Jewish Rome tells its story in a book series

The first volume was published in 2012: La scomparsa della sesta Scola (“The disappearance of the sixth Synagogue”), written by Giancarlo Spizzichino. The author reconstructed the little-known history of the Portaleone synagogue, also known as “the Sixth Synagogue,” located in the so-called Ghettarello beyond the walls of the “enclosure” established by Pope Paul IV in 1555 (currently Via di Monte Savello).
The upcoming twelfth volume of the series “Trauma and Memory,” by sociologist Enzo Campelli, is going to analyse PTSD in the years following World War II, starting from the notes of Mordko Tenenbaum, a Polish Jewish doctor who was also a partisan and later the director of the Jewish Health Organization. He was first interned at the Ferramonti camp in the Calabria region, and then confined in the surroundings of Frosinone.
The “Jewish Rome” series by the Italian publishing house Gangemi Editore is an initiative of the Department of Cultural Heritage and Activities of the Roman Jewish Community, directed by Claudio Procaccia (photo), who is also the series editor. “The project deals with a period of enormous interest because it shows a moment in Roman history marked by secular trends and the desire to integrate ‘differences,’ but also by paradoxes. Two generations after Roman Jews were freed from the Ghetto where they had been confined for centuries, Fascism, as we all know, issued the racial laws. This also suggests that the idea of a secular society was not truly embraced by Italian society,” Procaccia pointed out. As the scholar added, another point of reflection “is related to the topic of assimilation, which is highly relevant to Italian Judaism, which originated precisely in that historical period.”
Throughout the years, the series has covered various issues. For examples, it contains a part about the ancient catacomb of Vigna Randanini; the lives of Roman Jews during the centuries in which they were isolated both socially and physically; some events between the Unification of Italy and the Jewish emancipation, but also about Shabbat as an opportunity for humanity to redeem. “The idea is that there is a lot to offer on a cultural level, because the series deals with a wide range of themes and stories,” Procaccia explains. “Over the years we have involved not only high-level scholars, but also independent academics, who have provided different and always significant insights.” An asset for everyone is Rome Jewish community’s historical archive, among the most important in Europe, with 284 meters of folders, files, and registers.

Translated by Martina Bandini, revised by Klara Mattiussi, students at the Advanced School for Interpreters and Translators of the University of Trieste, trainees in the newsroom of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities – Pagine Ebraiche.