EVENTS Getting Ready for the European Day of Jewish Culture

geceBy Simone Somekh*

As the new Jewish year slowly gets closer, the Jewish communities in Italy prepare to kick off the fall calendar with a relatively recent tradition – the European Day of Jewish Culture.
The international festival, which is reaching its 15th edition this year, is set to take place on Sunday, September 14th 2014, in 30 European countries. Only in Italy, it is going to be celebrated in 77 different locations. The event was given a theme, “Women in Judaism”, which was readapted with the Latin term “Donna Sapiens” for the Italian public.

Conceived as an opportunity for the Jewish communities around Europe to figuratively open their gates to the local population, as well as a cultural and intellectual momentum of exchange, the Day of Jewish Culture represents a very meaningful event in the Jewish Italian calendar. Visitors will be able to take guided tours of the local synagogues, attend concerts, theatrical performances and lectures, join Kosher wine tastings, and, most of all, to ask questions.
Especially in such a peculiar moment for European Jewry – which has recently felt threatened by the several hateful, anti-Israeli demonstrations – culture and openness seem to be the best counterattack against ignorance and prejudice.

The theme “Women in Judaism” is turning the spotlight on a topic that is crucial in Judaism, but is not so well known to the most – the role of women in the daily, religious life of a Jew. Women, in Judaism, play not only the vital role of wives and mothers, but also the one of keepers of the tradition.
With its millenary Jewish history and rich set of traditions, also this year Italy will offer an intense, intriguing program that aims at answering all sorts of questions about Judaism. The city of Ferrara – UNESCO World Heritage Site – was appointed as leading location of the Italian rendition of the festival.

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*Simone Somekh is a student at Bar-Ilan University, Israel, and writes as a freelance for the Jewish Italian press.