The Jewish Community of Turin, in Piedmont, has a new Chief Rabbi, finally. It took more than a year to find the right candidate and to arrive to the final appointment, but it is now good to announce that Rabbi Ariel Di Porto – with his family, wife and two small children – will arrive in town before the end of the month, so to be “in full activity” in time for the Moadim.
Rabbi Ariel Di Porto will move from Rome, where he has been Head of the Rabbinical Office of the Jewish Community for four years. In fact the change of role is one of the ideas that helped him decide: “I am looking forward to start working full time in Turin – he declared the morning after the official appointment – after the months I have spent being there a few days every week. One of the things of which I am very happy is that I will have the chance to go back to studying again”. He also spoke with evident pleasure of the warm welcome he received from the community members: “One of the things I did more in the frequent periods I spent in Turin has been to meet people, I wanted to get to know the community before coming here. It is not true that here people here are cold and distant, it is only question of understanding their ways, I had quite some demonstrations of warmth and friendship”.
The Council of the Jewish Community has unanimously voted for him, and this, as Giuseppe Segre, the President, well explained is a real novelty. The Community, in fact, has a history of difficult relationships with his rabbis, and the arrival of rav Di Porto will hopefully end a long period of tension and internal fights.
During the past months many members got to know him, and everyone appreciated his preparation, his culture and his warm and kind manners. Rav Di Porto also stressed his gratefulness to rav Riccardo Di Segni, Chief Rabbi of Rome, for being at his side during his studies and later supporting his career, and in fact many people for Rome have clearly expressed their disappointment for the departure of the Head of the Rabbinical Office of Rome.
Rav Riccardo Di Segni acted as Chief Rabbi pro-tempore for the Jewish Community of Turin for the past year, after Chief Rabbis rav Eliahu Birnbaum and rav Alberto Moshè Somekh. Rav Somekh, in fact, is still part of the Rabbinical Office in Turin, as Head of the Margulies Disegni Rabbinical School, a historical institution of Turin, soon to become the centre of the new rabbinical school that will prepare students from the whole of the North of Italy. “With rav Somekh – explained rav Di Porto – I have already established a good relationship with him, and for me it is very good to have him at my side, it will be a superb occasion to study with a great Chacham”.
In the picture: Rabbi Di Porto (right) with the vice-president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities Giulio Disegni