Italian Word of the Week: COMUNITA’

italicsby Daniela Gross

“I’m going to the Comunità”. It’s a daily expression for every Italian Jew.

In Italy the “Comunità” (Community) is the core of Jewish life, the institution that brings everyone together. It provides all the necessary services – synagogue, education, kosher food, social and ritual services – and it represents roots, tradition, sense of belonging to Italian Jewry.

There are 21 “Comunità” spread throughout the country, mostly in North and Central Italy. They are all members of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI). The biggest are in Rome and Milan and there are also “Comunità” in Ancona, Bologna, Casale Monferrato, Ferrara, Firenze (Florence), Genova (Genoa), Livorno (Leghorn), Mantova (Mantua), Merano, Modena, Napoli (Naples), Padova (Padua), Parma, Pisa, Torino (Turin), Trieste, Venezia (Venice), Vercelli and Verona.

The sizes of the “Comunità” vary significantly: 70 per cent of Italian Jewry is in fact concentrated in Rome and Milan. There are medium size “Comunità” with 500-1000 members in Torino, Firenze, Livorno, Trieste, Venezia and Genova, while the others are smaller “Comunità” that count only a few dozen people.

The Community’s life is usually quite lively and interesting: you go to your Comunità not only for religious or practical reasons, but also to be updated on the latest news and to meet friends.