Today I went to Mishkenot Shaananim for the second day of a conference on "Italy in Israel: The contribution of Italian Jews to the establishment and development of the State of Israel."
The lecture hall was almost full and I and a handful of others were the only ones who needed earphones to hear simultaneous interpretation from Italian to Hebrew.
(Someday before it's too late I hope to know Italian!)
The Italian-speakers spoke rapidly (maybe just to get a lot in within their 20 minute allotment).
The poor microphone got quite a few knocks from the Italkim who spoke with lots of hand movement.
(Italkim is apparently the Hebrew word decided upon to refer to Jewish immigrants/olim from Italy.)
Outside the hall was a big exhibit of photos celebrating 60 years of Italian-Israeli relations.
(Italy recognized the young state early in 1949.)
A nice 1988 photo of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Foreign Minister Giulio Andreotti reviewing the honor guard at the airport in Rome.
And a 1958 image of Randolfo Pacciardi taking leave of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion at his kibbutz in the Negev.
UPDATE: I just started watching the movie "Kingdom of Heaven" about the Crusades.
The opening scene is France, 1184.
The father tries to convince his son to join him and become a Crusader knight.
Before he rides off on his steed, he says,
"Jerusalem is easy to find. Come to where the men speak Italian, then continue until they speak something else. We go by way of Messina. Goodbye!"
UPDATE 2: Oh dear, just two days after I published his photo, Yitzhak Shamir died this evening, June 30. May he rest in peace after 96 years of life full of devotion to the Jewish people and state.