After years of preparations, on March 29, 2016, the initiatives to mark the 500th anniversary of the establishment of the Venice Ghetto will have its official inauguration.
Jewish leaders along with Italian leaders will gather at the historic Teatro La Fenice to commemorate the event and its meaning in the contemporary world. Welcoming the audience will be the president of the Jewish Community of Venice Paolo Gnignati, the mayor Luigi Brugnaro and the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities Renzo Gattegna. The president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, will be speaking on the behalf of Jewish communities all over the world.
During the evening ceremony British historian Simon Schama will deliver a lecture focusing on the anniversary. The Israeli conductor, Omer Meir Wellber will then conduct the La Fenice Orchestra in a performance of Symphony No. 1 in D major by Gustav Mahler.
Among the initiatives planned for the 500th anniversary are special exhibitions, concerts, conferences, and also a special performance of William Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice”.
“The organizers, the friends of the Jewish Community of Venice and a special committee has elaborated a complex, high-level program which has a common aim: to make this Anniversary a new starting point that might encourage thinking about these historic experiences as a real lesson for a wide public in a variety of languages and cultural expressions,” highlighted Gattegna in his op-ed published in a special section devoted to the event by Pagine Ebraiche.
The special section presents many different opinions and contributions, including many warnings to not consider the anniversary as an occasion to celebrate the Ghetto itself, as was pointed out by Dario Calimani, a professor at Venice University.