A synagogue for Palermo, fundraising soon to be launched

The pandemic slowed down the project, but the commitment to give Palermo a synagogue never stopped. On the contrary, it recently gained momentum with an international crowdfunding campaign soon to be launched in order to support the initiative. The plan was illustrated during the recent visit to Sicily of the Israel ambassador in Italy Dror Eydar, explains Vice-president of The Union of the Italian Jewish Communities Giulio Disegni. “We showed him the project aimed at renovating the former Oratorio di Santa Maria del Sabato (Oratory of Saint Mary of the Graces of Saturday), given on free loan by the Archdiocese, which is meant to become the synagogue of Palermo and might become a catalyst for Jewish life in Sicily”.
The project officially started with the signing in 2017 of the free loan contracts between Archbishop Corrado Lorefice, the President of the Jewish Community of Palermo Lydia Schapirer, and the referent of Palermo Jewish section Evelyn Aouate.
“Now the building must be renovated and secured”, says Disegni, who was among the protagonists of the 2017 document drafting. The structure, he adds, dates back to the XVII century and is located in the ancient areas of Gazzetta and Meschita. “Now the goal is to launch an international fundraising to complete the restorations. There is a lot of interest on this matter, both in Italy, in Israel, and the US”.
The crowdfunding campaign, says Marilena Citelli Francesi, “will start shortly. All the necessary steps were taken with the joint presentation of the project and the creation of associations dedicated to fundraising. Our goal is to complete the renovation by September. At that point, after more than five hundred years Palermo will have again a synagogue, a place that will give the city further life”.
The discovery of the Jewish roots of the Sicilian capital was also the last stage of Ambassador Eydar’s visit to the region, where various institutional meetings were held. The objective was to further tighten relations between Israel and Sicily through developing new collaborations on the academic, economic, and scientific fronts.

From top, the unused Baroque oratory known as Santa Maria del Sabato, located in what used to be the city’s Jewish Quarter; from right, Ambassador Dror Eydar with Marilena Citelli Francesi and UCEI Vice -President Giulio Disegni.