The village of Selvino in the Italian Alps housed approximately 800 Jewish children orphaned during the Holocaust. The children lived in a large former fascist children’s home- Sciesopoli, where they were instructed in general education as well as in Jewish culture and Hebrew language.
The initial group of the orphans was collected by Raffaele Cantoni, a prominent figure in the Italian pre-war community and his staff from Italian convents and monasteries where they were hiding during the war. Later more children begun to arrive, including the newly liberated children form the concentration camps and those who survived the war hiding in forests in Eastern Europe. Many of the children were smuggled through the border from DP camps by the Jewish Brigade. The school was overseen by Moshe Ze’iri a member of the Jewish Brigade who run it like a kibbutz with a strict set of seven house rules. These included:
1. Self sufficiency- all work was to be done by children and teachers
2. Shared responsibility
3. Common property
4. All adults to share work with children
5. Hebrew as the house language,
6. No dwelling on the past
7. The importance of the studies.
The educational program run at Selvino included practical training and skills. The vocational training was run by ORT which established training workshops, one for locksmiths training and one for joinery for boys, and a dressmaking unit for girls, with a total of fifty-eight trainees in mid 1947. All the children from Selvino were preparing to immigrate to Palestine. Most of them did so by through illegal channels of emigration. The rest, mainly the youngest ones, went to Palestine after the founding of the state of Israel in May 1948. The house shut down in the end of 1948.