EVENTS Freedom and Books in Ferrara

By Daniel Reichel

The sixth edition of the Festival of Jewish Books of Ferrara (25-28 April), organized by Foundation of the National Museum of Italian Judaism and the Shoah (MEIS), opened on Saturday night with the event “Homage to liberty”, which lead the visitors on a walking tour of Ferrara. “Homage to liberty” because on the very same day all Italy celebrated the liberation from the Nazi-fascist regime and the festival remembered it. The walk indeed stopped at some important places in the city connected to the Second World War period and ended at the MEIS with a visit to the exposition “Torah source of life. The collection of the Museum of the Jewish Community of Ferrara.”

Many people participated in the event as well as at the concert of the klezmer band from Turin, Mishkalé, at the Chiostro di San Paolo. But the Ferrara Jewish Festival mainly focuses on books and from Sunday on books have been the protagonists with a lot of presentations and conferences.

Among the highlights of the festival is the Jewish culture Award Pardes, that this year was given to the Nobel Prize winner for Literature Patrick Modiano, the witness to the Holocaust, Sami Modiano and historian Anna Foa. On Sunday, the day began with a panel on Gino Bartali who was not only a great cycling champion but also a silent hero in defense of the persecuted whom Yad Vashem awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations (the panel, which among others featured the son of Bartali, Andrea, was moderated by the journalist of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities Adam Smulevich).

The book of Silvio Magrini, “History of the Jews in Ferrara from its origins to 1943” (Belforte, Livorno) was also presented to the public on Sunday. Among the presenters were Andrea Pesaro, president of the Jewish community of Ferrara, the chief rabbi of the city rav Luciano Caro and Laura Graziani Secchieri (State Archives – Ferrara, Scientific Committee Foundation MEIS). Introducing the presentation was the editor-in-chief of Pagine Ebraiche and coordinator of the Culture and Information departments of UCEI, Guido Vitale, who will also take part on Tuesday at the presentation of the new book by “Dante Lattes: Ethics and Practice” (Gruppo Editoriale Bonanno) by Amos Luzzatto, one of the protagonists of Italian Jewry in the last centuries.

In the year of Expo Milano, the universal exhibition that will start next May 1 and will focus on issues related to food and nutrition was also presented at the Book Fair as Jewish Ferrara wanted to dedicate something to the theme. It will thus be presented on Tuesday with the volume “The Kosher Diet. History, rules and benefits of a Jewish nutrition” (Various Authors, Giuntina), curated by Rossella Tercatin. On the panel, along with Rabbi Caro, will be the head of the project related to the Italian brand and a member of UCEI board, Jacqueline Fellus, the president of the Jewish Medical Association, Giorgio Mortara and the chef of the Gambero Rosso Laura Ravaioli.