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Anna Yona

  • Italian

Anna Yona (1908–2006), who taught Italian at NEC from 1964 to 1992, died October 9, 2006. Her own educational background included a degree in art and literature from University of Turin, as well as private piano lessons. Yona, her husband, and their two small children fled Mussolini's Italy for haven in the U.S. after Fascist laws banning Jews from all public employment made it impossible for them to find work in their homeland in the late 1930s. (The story of Yona's father, Vittorio Foa, an antifascist activist betrayed to the police by a half-Jewish cousin, is chronicled in Alexander Stille's 1991 book Benevolence and Betrayal.) In Boston, Yona was well known to radio listeners as host of the daily "Italian Hour" in the 1940s and '50s. Yona used the airwaves to broadcast the names of Italian citizens who were trying to contact relatives in the U.S., and was responsible for reuniting many families. As a translator, she played a role in introducing her cousin Primo Levi to English-language readers.