Italian Word of the Week MORAH/MOREH

italicsBy Daniela Gross

I grew up in a Jewish community in the extreme northeast of Italy, Trieste, at the border with Slovenia. We were not more than five hundred people – so, in the reality of Italian Jewry a medium community – mostly composed by elderly. Before the World War II Trieste was a prominent and flourishing community as testified by his magnificent Synagogue, one of the most beautiful of Europe.
The persecutions fiercely hit that world, but even during the Fascism the community, until it was possible, didn’t give up his school and tried in every way to develop it: even in that troubled times, to take care of the children and of their Jewish education was a fundamental value. After the war the community reopened his school and concentrated again his efforts in the teaching.
That attention to the children is alive and vibrant in the entire Italian Jewry (there are schools in Rome, Milan, Turin and in Florence there is a kindergarden) and it couldn’t be differently: Our sons are our future and the future of our communities. In this universe the role of the Morah or the Moreh (feminine or masculine), like the teacher is called in Hebrew and we refer to her/his in Hebrew deliberately, to underline that we are talking about of “our” teacher, is unique and irreplaceable.
The Morah (or Moreh, but mostly they are women) teaches our kids from the first classes, introduces them to the fundamentals of the Judaism, and is a figure respected, beloved and very present in the Community’s life. You meet her/him not only in class but even at the services and events, sometimes it happens that your Morah becomes the teacher of your son, sometimes she taught your parents. When you get older and meet her at the Synagogue for the High Holidays you can feel, in a tangible way, that special bond among the generations that crosses our history.