EVENTS – MILAN JEWISH FESTIVAL The Long Journey towards Freedom

sederBy Rossella Tercatin

Four nights and three days of lectures, performances, concerts, workshops at a dozen different locations. Milan Jewish Festival Jewish and the City will take place from Saturday evening September 13 to Tuesday September 16, offering all of these and much more. This year edition main theme will be the story of Pesach and the long journey of the Jewish people towards freedom.

“According to Jewish tradition, not a day should pass without the Yetziàt Mitzràim, the Exit from Egypt, being remembered,” underlines Rabbi Roberto Della Rocca, Director of the Department of Education and Culture of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities and director of the festival. Yetziàt Mitzràim, stresses the deep meaning and universal values inherent to the story of Exodus. “We will focus on issues that are not only stimulating but also extremely relevant in this day and age”.
Many subjects are underlying themes which have inspired the different moments of the festival: the concept of freedom, the importance of narrative, and the approach to others. Remembering the commandment: “You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feeling of strangers, having yourself been strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exod. 23:9).

Organized by the Jewish Community of Milan with the collaboration, among others, of the city of Milan and the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, the festival Jewish and the City was successfully launched in 2013 and attracted over 15,000 people. Like last year, the event will coincide with the European Day of Jewish Culture, offering Milan citizens not one but several days of encounters with Jewish Culture in all of its nuances.
Among the speakers, both Jewish and non-Jewish, will be rabbis and journalists, historians, musicians, philosophers and directors, food bloggers and educators. The first night will open with a reenactment of the Passover Seder in the gardens of the Rotonda della Besana, a 300-years-old baroque building located in the center of Milan (in the picture, a painting of the seder by Italian artist Emanuele Luzzati). The Rotonda is only few meters away from the Central Synagogue. The guest of honor for the closing ceremony will be Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, one of our most prominent contemporary Talmud scholars. Rabbi Steinsaltz will give a lecture in the Central Synagogue.
Following the closing ceremony everyone is invited to the Piazzetta Palazzo Reale, at the corner of the Duomo square, for a very special concert, “Listening to Chagall” conducted by the Israeli Omer Meir Wellber (a comprehensive exhibition of the works of the Russian-French Jewish painter will be inaugurated at Palazzo Reale the following day).

“In the past months we have witnessed several episodes of anti-Semitism and intolerance in a number of Italian cities. There is too much ignorance about Jews and Israel. Our hope is that Jewish and the City will be able to contribute to the fight against prejudice. Culture is our strongest response,” concludes Rabbi Della Rocca.