EVENTS – MILAN JEWISH FESTIVAL Women, Exodus and Freedom

milanoBy Daniel Reichel

“This year we have a double theme: freedom and women”, explained on Sunday Rabbis Alfonso Arbib during the presentation of Jewish and the City, the international festival of Jewish Culture of Milan, whose title is “Pesach, the long Journey towards Freedom”. The second day of the Festival has coincided with the European Day of Jewish Culture, which dedicated this edition to the role of Women in Judaism. In the Central Synagogue of Milan, a big crowd turned up for rav Alfonso Arbib lesson: the Chief Rabbi of the city focused on the role played by women in the Haggadah, and talked extensively about Miriam, Moshe’s sister, and the daughter of Pharoah, reminding to all that “She has been the first person to fight the persecution against the Jews when she saved the life of Moshe”.

The story told in the Haggadah has been the protagonist of a very special Seder on Saturday night: created by director Andrée Ruth Shammah and playwright Miriam Camerini, it was open to the whole city and hundreds of people took part in it. The public, sitting at the long tables of the Rotonda della Besana, listened to the story of Pesach, from slavery in Egypt to freedom and with the help of rav Pierpaolo Pinhas Punturello actors, musicians and many members of the Jewish community explained to the public why it is so important to tell this story again and again. “A magical night”, this was the comment of the Head of the Culture Department of Milan Jewish Community, Daniele Cohen.

On Sunday, French philosopher Catherine Chalier introduced by rav Benedetto Carucci Viterbi explained why for Judaism it is so important to tell stories to the next generation. As rav Carucci put it: “Telling stories is both a way to achieve freedom and to create your own identity”. Also on Sunday five women, Lizzie Doron, Costanza Esclapon, Aliza Lavie, Livia Pomodoro and Wassyla Tamzali, talked about the “Freedom to be women”, introduced by Daniela Ovadia, journalist and part of the organizing committee of Jewish and the City.