ROME – Family and tradition on display on the 120th anniversary of the Great Synagogue

The European Day of Jewish Culture on September 15th will be dedicated to family. And in Rome, “no place better represents this concept than the Great Synagogue, which will soon celebrate 120 years since its inauguration,” said art historian Giorgia Calò, director of the Community Culture Center. To this end, the Center launched a “call to action” to collect as many photographs as possible of joyful family events held at the synagogue “from its foundation to the present day”. A selection of these images will compose the exhibition “Family and Tradition of the Jews of Rome”, which will open on the European Day of Jewish Culture. The photos will be displayed along the gates of the synagogue on about twenty panels.
“Numerous Jewish families keep images in their homes of photographs on the steps of the Temple after weddings and anniversary celebrations, symbolically embraced by its columns,” explained Calò. “It’s a symbolic embrace, the essence of family warmth.” The response to the “call to action”, ended on June 30, yield its fruits. A couple of decades in the long journey from July 28th, 1904, when the Great Synagogue first opened its doors, still need to be “covered” though.

“A story of happy moments”

“We have received material of enormous interest,” remarked Calò. “These images hold great value as they visually testify to the changes experienced by the Jewish community in relation to the fashion and sensibilities of each era, as well as the events lived through. For example, from the opulence of the Emancipation years to the painful moments following the enactment of racial laws in 1938, to WWII, to the Holocaust. Here, opulence clearly diminishes.” In the chronological path planned for the exhibition, the focus will shift from the war period to the years of post-war reconstruction, with a dedicated space highlighting “the resilience of this community, its ability to maintain its traditions despite everything and to celebrate moments of happiness.”
At the center of this section will be photos of three Holocaust survivors, Romeo Salmonì, Giuseppe Di Porto, and Davide Di Veroli, celebrating their silver and golden wedding anniversaries with their wives. The triumph of life over death. Another photo potrays “one of the first marriages between a Roman Jew and a Libyan Jewess,” anticipated Calò. It is the union celebrated in 1954 between the “Roman” Giovanni Di Veroli and the “Libyan” Sara Tito, born in Benghazi. Di Veroli was a talented footballer, playing for several seasons with Lazio Footbal Club. Among those who celebrated him at the Great Synagogue was the then-president of the “Biancocelesti” club, Costantino Tessarolo.

Photo: the wedding of Giovanni Di Veroli with Sara Tito.