Turin: Jews and Waldensians, citizens like others since 1848

Under the sky of Turin, the Mole Antonelliana has once again turned blue. “1848: Jews and Waldensians, citizens like others”, states the white bold lettering appearing on the city’s symbol from this week. Conceived as a grand new temple for the than newly emancipated Jewish community of Turin 1848, the Mole never became a synagogue. However, today’s words somehow harken back to the original project and remind us of how for both the Jewish and Waldensian minorities, civil rights were an achievement not to be taken for granted. “Citizens like others,” is a powerful message in its simplicity, emphasized the President of the Jewish Community of Turin, Dario Disegni.
A message that spans the centuries, unites Jews and Waldensians (the two minorities almost jointly obtained Emancipation from the House of Savoy in 1848) and speaks to the present, as recalled by speakers at the Jewish Community’s social center. With the measures taken by the King of Sardinia and ruler of the Savoyard state Charles Albert, the two religious communities were granted full civil rights.
“It was an event that over 100 people came to join. Unfortunately, we had to turn some of them away, but the large attendance is a very positive sign,” Disegni stressed. The meeting, titled, “Jews and Waldenses, a long history in Turin,” featured historian Claudio Vercelli and Waldensian biblical scholar and pastor Daniele Garrone. The former traced the history of Piedmontese Judaism from its establishment in the 15th century; while the latter focused on the relationship between Jews and Waldensians.
“We are both celebrating important anniversaries this year. The Waldensian community commemorates the birth of the movement, which occurred 850 years ago; while we celebrate the official settlement of the Jewish community in Turin 600 years ago”, Disegni explained. To mark the occasion, an international seminar will be held in November in Piazzetta Primo Levi, the heart of Jewish Turin, to reconstruct six centuries of history between integration, discrimination, wounds and opportunities.
Opening the meeting alongside Disegni were greetings from Sergio Velluto, President of the Consistory of the Waldensian Church of Turin, and Deputy Mayor Michela Favaro. “Several city councilors also came, as part of the City Committee against hatred and antisemitism. An important adhesion from institutional representatives, which shows how close the city is to its minorities,” says the president of the Jewish Community of Turin.


Translated by Claudia Editori and revised by Laura Cattani, 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.