CULTURE 5776, a Year for Italian Jewish Heritage

fbceiBy Francesca Matalon

The board of the Foundation for Jewish Heritage in Italy (FBCEI) recently met and set the priorities for the coming year, also emphasizing the effort in carrying out the projects already started.
Among the endeavors mentioned were the promotion of exhibits and conferences to meet the growing interest of the public, and the tireless work behind the scenes researching, restoring and cataloguing the vast Italian Jewish cultural heritage in order to improve it and make it more accessible.

The Foundation is currently at a turning point, president Dario Disegni said. In August, he signed an agreement with the Central Institute for the Catalogue and Documentation of Italian cultural heritage (ICCD), which allows the Foundation to use the ICCD’s digital platforms with its catalogue becoming part of the national archive. “Thanks to the new information system, we will be able to make all the data available on an interactive map on our website, considerably improving the accessibility to information about Jewish cultural heritage in Italy, an extraordinary result,” Disegni explained.

Another map will also be completed, the map of the “imperdibili”, the must-see places, developed by FBCEI as part of a project of the European Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture and Heritage (AEPJ). Italy is now part of a European network that connects the Routes of Jewish Heritage throughout many different countries, providing information, multi-medial material and practical guidelines about places of interest as well as Jewish businesses. “Together with the scientific work for the catalogue, this initiative aims to promote cultural tourism, which has been dramatically increasing in recent years, especially from abroad,” Disegni said. “We have to organize the tourist interest in Jewish sites to our best,” he added.

The year 5776 will also be full of big events. Together with the Jewish Community of Florence, in November, the Foundation will inaugurate a new exhibition at the National Library in that Tuscan city. For the first time in fifty years, the books belonging to the Jewish Community which were damaged in the flooding of the river Arno will be back in the city. This is the purpose of the exhibition, Disegni stressed, as well as the restoration of precious Jewish volumes, that will later find their permanent home back in the Florence synagogue.

The 500th anniversary of the founding of the Venice’s Jewish Ghetto also occurs in 2016. The Foundation closely collaborates with the Committee that is organizing the celebrations for the occasion. Among other initiatives there will be a great exhibition at Palazzo Ducale and the possibility to discover the roots of Jewish Venice. Along with these initiatives, the FBCEI is also involved in a research project about the history of the Jews in Venice to be found in the State Archives.

“The value of these major events is also in the occasion to organize, as we always do, conferences and moments of study,” Disegni concluded.