Ferrara, a symbol of vitality and renewal

Renewing oneself as an individual, as a community, as a country. It was the central theme of the 23rd edition of the European Days of Jewish Culture that took place Saturday in Italy. Promoted by the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities, the event kicked off in Ferrara, the leading city in Italy, and over one hundred Italian locations participated with meetings, conferences, book presentations, concerts, and visits to synagogues. As remarked by the President of the Republic of Italy Sergio Mattarella, it was an opportunity to discuss not only the challenges of Judaism but those the entire society will have to face in the next future. “Renewal – he said – is a theme that also represents a challenge, because renewing is a purpose that, measuring itself against the new times, also brings to life and reinterprets the values and principles of an identity which, in dialogue with other cultures, composes a civilization”.
Speaking in the splendid setting of the Ferrara synagogue, UCEI President Noemi Di Segni spoke about the values and principles of Judaism and the mark they left on the evolution of Italian reality. “For our part, as a Jewish component of Italian society we have always contributed to renewal understood as requests and cultural contents, elaborating them on the basis of a millenary tradition, principles of sound governance and management of public affairs, respect for the body and life, scientific research in response to the ailments and discomforts of every living being. Defense of the homeland and reconstruction after the rubble. Launch of the constitutional project and then convinced participation in the European one”.
A Jewish world therefore fully integrated into the Italian social fabric, which in recent centuries has been able to renew itself internally preserving at the same its roots and values. After all, the concept of renewal returns in many passages of Judaism, including the wish for the New Year (Rosh HaShanah): “shetitchadesh alynu shanà tova umetukà” – “may a new and sweet year be renewed for us”.
A wish recalled by Di Segni in particular referring to the expected renewal of the institutions of our country with the elections of 25 September. To the future elects, the appeal launched in Ferrara is to carry the country forward in this time of great changes and evolutions, while protecting the values and traditions of each of its components.
In his opening speech, the president of the Jewish Community of Ferrara Fortunato Arbib, also connected past, present and future. “The Jews in the history of Ferrara were not only inhabitants of the Ghetto and testimonies of faults; they have suffused the entire city with their presence and action for over 600 years”, he remarked. “A long time has passed and today Ferrara is honored by the Jewish presence. The National Museum of Italian Judaism and the Shoah – MEIS, the synagogue, the cemetery in via Vigna, and the community that I am honored to represent are objects of great political interest, tourism, social and cultural”. An interest, he added, that translates into projects for the restoration of community environments and cooperation initiatives involving the city, its Jewish world, and Israel. It is a demonstration of the great vitality of a small presence, but still capable of leaving a mark on the present and future of Ferrara.
“Today this city – recalled the President of MEIS Dario Disegni – is more than ever the capital of Jewish culture in Italy: in addition to being the leading city of this day, it also hosts the Jewish Book Festival, with international and national guests and major events”. A double encounter that emblematically represents the ability of Jewish Italy to “propose its cultural wealth to the country and a strong message of the need for mutual knowledge and dialogue between all the varied components of our society”.
To conclude the morning, the discussion entitled “Renewal in Judaism: Ferrara, Italy, Europe”, moderated by Shemuel Lampronti, with interventions by Rabbi of Ferrara Luciano Meir Caro, the Judaist, journalist, and writer Giulio Busi, UCEI vice president Giulio Disegni, the scholar Laura Graziani Secchieri and the director of the Foundation for Jewish Contemporary Documentation in Milan – CDEC Gadi Luzzatto Voghera.