Foundation for Jewish Cultural Heritage in Italy: from Gorizia to Siena, an initiative to transmit knowledge

A considerable number of illustrious people rest in the Jewish cemetery of Rožna Dolina in Nova Gorica, such as the philosopher Carlo Michelstaedter, the glottologist Graziadio Isaia Ascoli and the journalist Carolina Luzzatto, the first woman in Italy to run a newspaper.
To recall and commemorate their stories, the Fondazione per i Beni Culturali Ebraici in Italia (Foundation for Jewish Cultural Heritage in Italy) organized an initiative, scheduled for 2025. As a matter of fact, in 2025, the Slovenian city and the nearby Gorizia, once divided by the iron curtain, will both be European Capitals of Culture. This initiative includes the restoration of the Jewish cemetery with the goal of turning it into an increasingly lively place where knowledge is transmitted, a window on the “Jerusalem on the Isonzo.”
During the opening session of the board of directors, that took place in Florence, Dario Disegni, president of the Foundation, stated that this initiative represents a significant commitment. He also claimed that next year “will be a year of onerous commitments that will be needed to carry on major projects started in the almost over four-year period, and that will be needed to meet the new responsibilities entrusted to the Foundation by UCEI.”
Among others, it has been carried out an in-depth work regarding liturgical musical sources “which comes alongside the recent granting for the management and the enhancement of the Bibliographic Center, relaunched in 2023, and now renamed National Library of Italian Judaism Tullia Zevi”, explained Disegni.
The agenda also includes structural initiatives, such as the cataloguing of Jewish cultural heritage in the different regions, the continuation of the cataloguing of ancient Jewish books in community libraries and in state libraries, the promotion of Jewish cultural tourism, the realization of new restorations and the promotion of conferences and research.
The meeting has been organized in the Tuscan capital on the occasion of the exhibition “Gli ebrei, i Medici e il Ghetto di Firenze”, that was inaugurated at Palazzo Pitti on the 23rd of October. “The Foundation is one of the partners of this exhibition: it collaborated and supported the creation of the video and of the three-dimensional model that ends the exhibition”, affirms Disegni.
The meeting of the board of directors was preceded by an inspection of the synagogue of Siena, which was recently damaged by an earthquake. “This was a symbolic yet concrete act, and we are working to allocate resources, without forgetting the fundraising side”, explains Disegni. A conference (“Am ha Sefer – Il popolo del libro”), is also being organized, and it will take place in Rome on the 21st of November. Its aim is to talk about “readers and bibliophiles in Jewish Italy between the 17th and the 20th century.”

Translated by Francesca Pischedda and revised by Claudia Editori, students at the Advanced School for Interpreters and Translators of the University of Trieste, interns at the newspaper office of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities – Pagine Ebraiche.