“The preservation of the Jewish heritage: Italy’s excellent work”

It has been little over twelve months since the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities – UCEI entrusted the management of its Bibliographic Centre to the Jewish Cultural Heritage Foundation in Italy. The Centre is a site of historical importance for Italian Judaism, and a meeting place “that we hope will increasingly establish itself as a hub of study, research and exchange”.
The president of the Foundation, Dario Disegni, expressed this wish during the inauguration of the convention “Judaica cognoscenda et custodienda” that was held on Thursday, 1 December 2022, and that brought together scholars from the fields of library sciences, art history, printing, cataloguing and archivistics. The topics of discussion were the history, cataloguing and protection of the Jewish book heritage. The Centre was called upon to give even more value to this already important heritage, rich from both a qualitative and a quantitative point of view. In his opening speech, Disegni stressed that “the treasures held in these rooms are many, and many are also the possibilities of further investigation”.
The book section is comprised of more than 25,000 volumes, he pointed out, but there are also numerous accounts available in the archival, the photographic, and the musical sections. Disegni asserted that it has much to offer, and he also highlighted the fact that the convention signed the beginning of a new phase of public sharing. As an additional remark of this, at the site of the event two evocative artifacts were displayed in a case: an incunabulum from 1475 and a volume of the famous Talmud by Daniel Bomberg. “The enhancement of the Centre is the most significant initiative of the year. We are committed to its management, but also to its relaunch,” said Disegni.
He then highlighted the fact that the Foundation plays a key role in many projects: they range from multi-year programs for cataloguing to the contribution offered to the I-tal-Ya Books project that focuses on book heritage; from European-wide projects (such as the restoration of the Gorizia cemetery in Valdirose) to projects regarding the individual properties of the 21 Italian local Communities (such as the ongoing one in Livorno); and last but not least, they will curate the celebration of the bicentenary of the birth of the rabbi and thinker Elijah Benamozegh, an “extremely relevant” appointment scheduled for next October. The work of the Foundation was also praised by Noemi Di Segni, president of UCEI. During her speech, she said that “the work done is without a doubt a highlight in the field of heritage preservation. Yet its light is dim: together we have to make it shine as bright as possible”. The president went on saying: “We are in front of an excellence of Italian Judaism, and it should be shared internationally as well”.

Translated by Annadora Zuanel, revised by Martina Bandini, students at the Secondary School of Modern Languages for Interpreters and Translators of the University of Trieste, interns at the newspaper office of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities – Pagine Ebraiche.