“Rabbis are not doctors. Rabbis have certain responsibilities which are very important, but doctors are the actual health experts. We should listen carefully to the indications we are given and be ready to act and equip ourselves with everything necessary. Of course, we hope we will restart soon. But what happened shows that we must live day by day,” said cautiously Rabbi Yosef Labi, rabbi of Verona.
“We certainly aim to reopen our synagogue,” he continued, “but it will only be done when adequate safety conditions can be ensured. The synagogue’s spaces are well-organized, at least for ordinary needs. Problems may arise at moments of larger turnout, such as Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. These are different situations, which should be assessed in all their facets.”
“I am not very optimistic about reopening for Shavuot. Gatherings in synagogues are more likely to be allowed later on, for Rosh Hashanah,” said scholar Ariel Finzi, reference Rabbi of Naples and all of Southern Italy.
“I am an engineer, and I tend to talk only when I see things written, defined, certain. Let’s wait for clear directions and only then we will see. Anyway, I reckon it won’t be easy until movement between Regions is allowed. At the moment, I’m stuck in Piedmont.”
Meanwhile, Finzi will continue his remote activity, which has particularly increased recently. “It’s ironic that things are now better than they used to be. Classes are now attended by people who did not use to show up for them, and occasions to study and talk together have remarkably increased.”
Rabbi Avraham Dayan, chief Rabbi of Livorno, is cautious as well. “Our desire to get back to praying in the synagogue is strong, but we must put health protection before anything else. It is the most important thing we have. For ourselves, and for others,” he said. Governmental norms will be adopted without question. “We would be happy to go back to the synagogue if we are allowed to. Otherwise, we will accept to stay at home, as we did on Purim and Pesach.” Rabbi Dayan is optimistic about the securing of the synagogue: “Luckily, the hall is rather spacious.”
Translated by Claudia Azzalini and revised by Mattia Stefani, both students at the Advanced School for Interpreting and Translation of Trieste University and interns at the newspaper office of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities.