“They say 20,000, and I say where?” tour guide Claudia Kravetz says of Chile’s Jewish population as we drive through the intersection of Las Condes and La Dehesa streets in Santiago’s Lo Barnechea neighborhood. With its wide, palm-tree-lined boulevards, reminiscent of Los Angeles, the area is nicknamed Little Israel for its concentration of synagogues.
Elizabeth Bettina is the author of the book, “It Happened in Italy: Untold Stories of How the People of Italy Defied the Horrors of the Holocaust,” published last spring by Thomas Nelson. The book tells the largely unknown story of Jews who survived World War II in Italy — both natives and those who fled there when no other country would take them. Bettina began research for the book in 2003, after seeing a photograph of a rabbi at the church where her maternal grandmother was married in Campagna, near Salerno. A native New Yorker who grew up in a largely Jewish neighborhood on Long Island, she is fluent in Italian, which aided her in researching and facilitating a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI and Jewish survivors. Novelist and travel writer Michael Luongo talked with her in New York City.