Rabbi Locci and the value of being a community
In Padua the rabbi is an institution of reference not only in the Jewish community but in society at large. “Rabbi of Padua” is an expression that designates the role for centuries. The roman rabbi Adolfo Locci, in town from the December of 1998, is the last piece in this puzzle/ the last link in this chain. Over twenty years of work with various reasons of satisfaction under his belt. “All the religious services are guaranteed, tefillot at the temple of Shabbat and in all the holidays/party, mikwè which is also enjoyed by ladies from other communities, a Kolel ‘Od Mevakshè Hashem’ for adults whereby during the week they study Talmud, Torah Halakhah, the Talmud Torah for the youths until the age of Bar Mitzvah, the kasherut. Every slot is very occupied” he explains, remembering how had begun his career in Rome as an officiating Rabbi, a school teacher, the head of the cultural services at the Rabbinical Office and collaborator of Rav Elio Toaff z.l.
“I do not like comparing the Padua Community to the others, as if there were some sort of competition. From my experience in the UCEI council, the difference between one community and the other lies in the steadfast rabbinical presence. When it is present, although on a small scale for the obviously different numbers between the small and large realities, one could still live a Jewish life. Just like others, the vital sense of belonging and participation in community life distributed at various levels which depends, especially, on how families teach their children. The Padua community is small, but with a special type of tenacity”.
Many challenges threaten demographers of contemporary Judaism. Even in Padua, like the rest of Jewish Italy, the situation is not the rosiest. “But we will try our best to make sure we last as long as possible, to ensure continuity for generations”, affirms rav Locci. Last year brought a breath of positivity with “various births, Bar Mitzvah, a milah”.
Rav Locci, a big fan of synagogal hymns, is the life of a collection of Tradition melodies project which resulted in two CDs and various concert with the attendance of a vast audience including those who aren’t Jewish. Among the most successful external confrontation initiatives, he cites the cycle of meetings animated by the interreligious group of Study and Research on Judaism directed by Lucia Poli. These are occasions of intellectual enrichment in which, explains rav Locci, “Rabbis, scholars and Jewish historians are called to speak, to express themselves on different fields of knowledge”. Always, he continues, “we tried to find a common ground: with the diocese, but also with the other institutions with which we have close relations”. From the Municipality to the University: the support and the collaboration, he comments, “they have always been tangible”. With the hope that even the Museum of Jewish Padua, as well as a service space within the community, that can become an institution of cultural dissemination and increasingly be a place of “vitality in the sign of identity”. The project that looks towards the future are numerous. “But my greatest worry – concludes the head Rabbi – is that of trying to share the value of being a Community to a generation of youths present in Padua. That generation who will have to take charge of it in years to come”.
Above, Rabbi Locci and the Bishop of Padua in a recent visit to the synagogue.
Translated by Oyebuchi Lucia Leonard, student at the University of Trieste, intern at the newspaper office of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities.