From September 15 to 18th, the Jewish Book Festival returns to the MEIS – National Museum of Italian Judaism and the Shoah in Ferrara. This 13th edition will address the issues of the relationship between Judaism and image and of renewal. A prestigious parterre of national and international guests is going to be featured, including Joshua Cohen, 2022 Pulitzer Prize winner with the novel The Nethanyahus, which will be published in Italy by Codice at the beginning of September and Israeli cartoonist Rutu Modan, who will unveil some initiatives she is committed together with the National Library of Israel. The program also includes meetings with the authors and workshops, a tribute to Primo Levi and the presentation of the project for a new house for the National Library of Israel, designed by the architects Herzog & de Meuron.
The relationship between Judaism and image will be explored through comics, graphic novels and ancient manuscripts illustrated in a comparison with the authors who, as the Director of the MEIS Rabbi Amedeo Spagnoletto says, reflects on “identity issues, the need for self-representation and the powerful balance between words and drawings, a combination that, in addition to entertaining, often allows us to express the ineffable “.
Renewal is instead the theme chosen for the European Day of Jewish Culture, which will take place on September 18, coinciding with the last day of the Jewish Book Festival, and will have Ferrara as the leading city in Italy. “Renewing means changing – points our Rabbi Spagnoletto – but also to make different something you already had, and even to return to appreciate ideas and beliefs set aside because hastily labeled as outdated. It means giving ourselves an opportunity to improve and so to respect ourselves and our environment. So, why not do it reading a book?”.
An all-round tribute will be dedicated to Primo Levi, starting with the presentation of a new edition of the short story collection ‘Natural Stories’ (Einaudi). An important occasion will be also the presentation of the facsimile edition of Meshal haQadmoni, a small code of ancient fables, richly illustrated with lively and colorful scenes and copied in 1483 in Brescia in an Ashkenazi Hebrew calligraphy, commented by the curators Monsignor Pier Francesco Fumagalli, Anna Linda Callow in dialogue with professor Saverio Campanini (University of Bologna).
A further look at books will focus on the National Library of Israel (NLI), the national library of the State of Israel and a reference point for Jews around the world. New headquarters – due to be completed shortly in Jerusalem near the Knesset, the parliament – were designed by Herzog & de Meuron. The complex will house all of its activities and treasures, from manuscripts by Isaac Newton to works by Maimonides, from the personal archives of the philosopher Martin Buber to the letters of Franz Kafka, as well as documents, rare books, and miniatures that recount centuries of history of the Jews in Italy and much more.
Many events will be dedicated to children and young readers, from workshops to the opportunity to listen to Keren David, who will present her new book Le cose che ci fanno paura (Things that make us afraid) published by Giuntina. Selected for the Strega Girls and Boys literary award, it is a story of friendship against the racism in which the author imagines a possible different future. Finally, the relationship between food, religion and dietary norms, such as kasherut, will be explored in the meeting dedicated to the book Recipes and precepts (Giuntina, 2019) by author Miriam Camerini, a scholar of Judaism and an artist. The presentation is realized in collaboration with Coop Alleanza 3.0.
Photo by Maurizio Cinti