CULTURE The Ability to Overcome the Ghetto Characterizes Jewish History, Says Venice Chief Rabbi

bahboutBy Rossella Tercatin

“The ability to overcome the Ghetto characterizes Jewish history: even in the darkest hours, subjected to the most terrible tests, Jews did not give up and did not lose hope, turning tragic moments into occasions to renew themselves and to find new answers to the challenges they have to face,” said Venice Chief Rabbi Scialom Bahbout, in a message written ahead of the celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the establishment of the Ghetto in the city.

The Ghetto of Venice was the first in history, established in 1516. The events for the anniversary will officially open on March 29 with an official ceremony followed by a concert.

Rav Bahbout chose to link the concept of the establishment of the Ghetto with Psalm 30, the one for the dedication of the home. “Psalm 30 offers many ideas that give this moment meaning: today we can remember the establishment of the first Ghetto – and of all Ghettos where Jews and non-Jews were confined all over history – because for good and for bad, it was the home of Venetian Jews until it was freed by Napoleon. [In the Psalm] we have just declared: You, o Lord, brought me up from Sheol – meaning from an infernal place where there is no life – You made me live, preserving me from going down into the Pit, and You turned my lament into dancing of joy, reviving my hope.”

“Here we are today, remembering that said moment, but also saying that we are still alive e we have many ideas and innovative suggestions to give meaning to our presence here and to precisely overcome the ghetto,” rav Bahbout concluded.