ROME (JTA) – A marathon-like race past sites of Holocaust and Jewish remembrance in Rome will highlight events in Italy marking International Holocaust Memorial Day.
The “Run for Mem” — short for “Run for Remembrance: Looking Ahead” — is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 22. International Holocaust Memorial Day is observed on Jan. 27, the anniversary of the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz, but in some countries, including Italy, events take place in the days or even weeks surrounding that date.
The Run for Mem will start and end in Rome’s historic Jewish ghetto, in a square now named for the Oct. 16, 1943 deportation of Roman Jews to Auschwitz. Billed as the first time in Europe that a sport race through sites of remembrance is being held “to commemorate the Shoah and determine future direction,” the race has two routes – a 10k, for athletes, and a 3.5 kilometer route for the general public. Both take participants past sites related to the Holocaust.
Participants will be encouraged to stop, read commemorative plaques, and light candles. They will also meet with Shaul Ladany, an Israeli Holocaust survivor and champion race walker who survived the attack on Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972.
Organized by the umbrella Union of Italian Jewish Communities, or UCEI, under the auspices of the government and in collaboration with the Rome Marathon and the Maccabi Italia Association, the event is supported by or partnered with more than two dozen other Jewish, civic, governmental, and sports bodies and will be featured on national television.
“Sport as a means of coming together is a way to affirm life and dialogue,” UCEI President Noemi Di Segni told a news conference Monday.
Other initiatives around the country to mark Holocaust Memorial Day include exhibitions, cultural and educational events, and commemorative ceremonies.