The Museum of Italian Judaism At work to engage younger audiences’
By Adam Smulevich
Few months ago, the National Museum of Italian Judaism and the Shoah in Ferrara – MEIS changed its director. In place of Simonetta Della Seta, to whom Yad Vashem has entrusted a prestigious international assignment, Amedeo Spagnoletto has arrived. Rabbi and Sofer, 52 years old, Rabbi Spagnoletto has many goals.
Among some, he told in an interview with Pagine Ebraiche, is making the Museum even more as an educational center. “A place where, by focusing on young people, engaging knowledge about Judaism, its history and its values can be transferred. But also, the source of a process that leads those who learn to share what they have acquired with others. Everyone, in one way or another, must feel involved”.
The new director has an idea, among others, in mind: to identify a school and a group of students who take up the challenge of setting up an exhibition under the supervision of MEIS and then the responsibility of sharing it with other schools in the city. The goal, he explains, is “to ensure that all students in Ferrara are participant of the Museum in a broad sense”.
Just an example of the many initiatives that Rabbi Spagnoletto is developing with his staff: Among the first to have seen the light has been the summer arena inaugurated in July, in the large garden of the Museum, with five movie screenings around the theme of identity.
The new director told Pagine Ebraiche: “The project was born very quickly, but with great enthusiasm. We started from a premise: those who wanted to come to MEIS in recent years have already done so. However, there are many other citizens (from Ferrara and not) who may not always go to museums but who may still be interested in getting to know us. Cinema seemed to us the right language to attract, to create a bridge with them. The wide participation of the public was the best response to our expectations”.
Important signs, like those launched by local institutions, says Rabbi Spagnoletto. “From the day of my inauguration, I was able to meet almost everyone: from the mayor to the prefect, from the regional representative to the bishop. Every meeting, even the most formal, is evolving into a relationship of sincere closeness”.
These are signs of recognition that follow the path opened by former director Simonetta Della Seta. Rabbi Spagnoletto stresses: “If I embarked on this adventure, I owe it to her and to all those who made the MEIS what it is. An attractive, fascinating, international place. People like the president Dario Disegni, who has just started his second term and whom I strongly trust. Without forgetting the efforts made in recent years by members of the board of directors, the scientific committee, anyone who has cooperated at all levels”.
Many challenges await MEIS in the short and long term. Like the inauguration of the third permanent exhibition, postponed from past spring to March 2021 due to the Covid 19 emergency. “Beyond the ghetto”: a theme that seems to be of great interest, on the axis of rights first denied and then finally conquered by Italian Jews. Or like the completion of the full museum structure. “Covid 19 has postponed the deadlines initially envisaged. But we remain confident”, underlines the director.