Assemblyman Anthony D’Urso shares moving Holocaust experience

Emily Levine, Copy Editor

Anthony D’Urso, New York State Assemblyman, was honored for his family’s sacrifices in Italy
during 1944. On Nov. 10, at Temple Emanuel of Great Neck, D’Urso, a resident of Port
Washington who represents the sixteenth district in Nassau County, shared his story for the
recent anniversaries of Kristalnacht and Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Born near Naples in 1939, D’Urso’s childhood was heavily impacted by the rise of
fascism under Benito Mussolini’s rule. His family owned property in the suburbs of Naples,
stretching out a number of acres to foster cattle and crops.
The D’Urso’s knew of many Jewish families in their town and saw them either
independently flee to other countries or be rounded up by Nazi officers who sent them to labor
camps. Privy to this information because of their religious identification, Giuseppe D’Urso,
Tony’s father, and his wife arranged for two Jewish families to seek refuge in a nearby animal
shed. Anthony was only five years old when he was directed by his father to guard their shed
from suspicious neighbors or Nazi soldiers.
At his family’s commemoration at Temple Emanuel, D’Urso spoke of his story and his
continued work to amplify those without voices. Looking to his father as a role model, D’Urso
makes frequent visits to Haiti, Nicaragua and Kenya where he organizes projects to build
orphanages, schools, homes, water projects and community centers.
“Assemblyman D’Urso is a remarkable person whose genuine compassion for others
shows through in his extensive charity work,” said senior Sylvia Ades.
Giving thanks to the D’Urso family was also Gerald T. Walsh, the Roman Catholic
Bishop and Vicar for Clergy of the Archdiocese of New York. Walsh thanked the D’Ursos on
behalf of the Church for their sacrificial and moral deeds.
This past February, the D’Ursos were invited by Pope Francis to the Vatican, where he
honored and blessed the family for their heroic acts. The family was also commemorated in Yad
Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, Israel. They are a part of the
“Righteous Among the Nations,” an organization that honors non-Jewish individuals who risked
their lives for those targeted during the Holocaust.
“[The Pope] gave me sufficient time to tell him briefly what happened during the war,” said
D’Urso. “What my father’s role was to make sure . . . these Jews were taken care of instead of–
like people did– turn them over to the Nazis for money.”
With the recent anniversaries of Kristalnacht and Holocaust Remembrance Day, it is
important to be reminded of the horrors experienced and sacrifices made by selfless people for
those at risk.