EVENTS Florence’s Balagan Café. A Bridge to Jewish Culture

balaganBy Rossella Tercatin

In Florence, tourists and citizens who want to admire the sunset from the view of Piazzale Michelangelo, located on a hill just east of the city center can enjoy a unique skyline. When night falls, among the few well recognizable buildings is the stunning Florence synagogue, which was completed in 1882 and has been lit up at night since 2010.
But for those who would like to have a closer look at Jewish life in Florence, the Jewish Community offers another unique opportunity: for the third consecutive summer on Thursday nights, the Community opens the doors of the synagogue’s gardens for the festival of the Balagan Café.

The Balagan Café features a wide range of events ranging from concerts to panels. Last Thursday for the first night of the season visitors could enjoy an exhibit of ancient Jewish cookbooks (in collaboration with the ADEI, the Italian branch of the Women’s International Zionist Organization), alongside the performance “La mamma, l’angelo e la ciambella” (i.e. “The Mother, the Angel and the Donut”) by the artistic director of Balagan, Enrico Fink.

Introducing the topic of the relationship between Judaism and food was a panel including the director of the Jewish Museum of Florence and curator of the exhibit Dora Liscia Bemporad, the anthropologist Ugo Caffaz, and Simcha Jelinek the owner of Ruth’s, the only kosher restaurant in Florence.

“The common thread of the events is the concept of ‘bridges’,” explained the president of the Community Sara Cividalli, welcoming the visitors, “bridges between cultures, bridges of dialogue, bridges as meeting points.”
The concept of ‘bridges’ will serve as the main them for the next European Day of Jewish Culture, which will take place on Sunday, September 6. Florence will be the leading city for Italy for this special day.

The next event of the Balagan Café will take place on July 2.