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April 20th, 2014 - Nissan 20th, 5774

Beppe Grillo’s Words Offend all of Italy

by Renzo Gattegna*

"Beppe Grillo’s decision to publish on his blog a retouched picture of the notorious image of the gates of Auschwitz, together with an adapted version of Primo Levi's poem on the Holocaust Se questo è un uomo (If this is a man) represents his last vile provocation.
These words tickle dishonorable anti-Semitic sentiments and ride the popular discontent that is growing in these times of crisis. They are an obscenity against which we cannot remain silent, representing a criminal desecration of the value of the memory of millions of innocent victims that offends all of Italy".

*Renzo Gattegna is the President of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities
Italian Word of the Week:
by Daniela Gross

In some Italian Communities it’s called “Schola”. In other Communities people generally refer to it as “Tempio”. But although the names may vary, we always talk about the same thing: the Synagogue, the heart of the Jewish life in every Italian Community.

The Italian Synagogues are magnificent, perhaps among the most wonderful of the world (no exageration). For this reason they are the destination of many tourist routes in Roma, Firenze, Torino or Trieste. In these cities the Tempio dates from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and it is monumental. But in some places, as Venice, where there are some of the most famous Italian Synagogues, visitors at the beginning are surprised.

In fact, from the outside the Venetian Schole (plural of Schola: name that in vulgar Latin indicated a gathering place; in Italian the word “scuola” indicates the school) look exactly like any building around. That aspect reminds us how, until the XIX century the Synagogues in Europe were often hidden to the eyes of a hostile population through an humble aspect. The modest appearance, however, is limited to the exteriors: When you get in, you find splendid decorations and refined ritual objects.

The Synagogues are the most visible legacy of the glorious history of Italian Jews and represent now a big challenge for the Communities, called to preserve and enhance that important heritage.
But every Italian Jew, also if secular, loves his Schola and is really proud of it.
Beppe Grillo's Obsession

by Rossella Tercatin

Asked by the media whether he would apologize to the Jewish community after his parody of Primo Levi’s poem on the Holocaust, the Five Star Movement leader and former comedian Beppe Grillo replied that he had nothing to apologize for.

On the contrary, not only did he say that he did not offend anyone, but he also demanded that the Italian Jewish Community tear apart its Communication Department.
According to Grillo, all the blame of what he called “a misunderstanding” of what he said, rested on the Department and on the “stupid, ignorant, not very intelligent spokespersons, who should be fired”.

Read more

Italy’s Jewish Locals Insulted by Comedian-Politician’s Remarks

by Lisa Palmieri-Billig*

ROME – Beppe Grillo, a comedian as well as founder and leader of the populist Five Star Movement (M5S), defended his use of the Holocaust, Auschwitz and Primo Levi as a launching pad for ferocious criticism against the president, prime minister and the entire Italian parliament.

Grillo’s blog published a photo of the infamous Arbeit macht frei (Work makes free) sign above the gates of Auschwitz, retouched to read “P2 macht frei.” P2 is a secretive – and, in the eyes of many, subversive – Italian Masonic lodge that counts many politicians among its members.

*Lisa Palmieri-Billig is the Jerusalem Post correspondent in Rome.
This article appears on the Jerusalem Post.
Read more

it happened tomorrow
Thank You, Mr. Grillo

by Guido Vitale

When Italian Jewry speaks with one voice, we are heard loud and clear and even a populist leader, like comedian Beppe Grillo, fails to make people laugh.
Faced with our complaints about his anti-Semitic ravings, the artist was left with no arguments. All he could muster were insults and incoherent babbling.
And in conclusion he confronted Italian Jews with a threat: "You must change your press office". We would like to give him our heartfelt thanks. The value of our work at the press office of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities could have received no more convincing recognition.

American Jewish Committee Shocked by Grillo’s Statements
AJC is shocked by the cynical and instrumental use of the Shoah, of Auschwitz and of an author of the stature of Primo Levi as vehicles for base contemporary political propaganda by  Beppe Grillo, the head of the Five Star Movement.
AJC is equally appalled by Mr. Grillo’s vulgar insults against the President of the Italian Jewish Community and his insinuations regarding recondite power conspiracies behind all the crises of today’s world.
Read more

The Italian Jewish Book Fair Sparks Interest and Curiosity
by Sharon Reichel

The city of Ferrara is getting ready to host, from April 26th to May 1rst, the fifth edition of the Festa del Libro Ebraico in Italia, the established Jewish book fair organized by Fondazione MEIS (the National Museum of Italian Judaism and the Shoah Foundation).

The Festa del Libro Ebraico aims to present to the public the cultural products regarding Jewish life in Italy, mainly through a remarkably rich output of books on Jewish themes, but also through the organization of a diversified program that includes concerts, theatre productions, exhibits, debates, food tastings and much more.

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Pesach, Freedom and the City
by Simone Somekh

The cultural festival Jewish and the City is reportedly set to take over Milan, Italy, for its second edition on September 13-16.
The festival, which debuted last year in the cultural agenda of the vibrant Italian city, is a four-day event and seeks to give a thorough look at contemporary Judaism through exhibitions, concerts, performances, debates and workshops.

The theme of this year’s festival was announced to be “Pesach” – Passover – and will focus on topics such as the path to freedom.

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"Bocca di dama" from Libya,
the ultimate Passover dessert

by Benedetta Guetta*

Bocca di dama, literally "lady's mouth", is a cake specifically designed to be kosher for Passover, but also a simple, gluten free dessert that is absolutely perfect year round: a real crowd pleaser.

The recipe for Bocca di dama is quite old: it came all the way from Libya to Italy with the Jewish emigrants who fled the country in the Sixties and arrived in Rome, where the community of Libyan Jews now flourishes.

*Benedetta Guetta runs the blog Labna.it
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“Dialogue, New Challenges
We Must Be Ready to Take up”

by David Rosen*

Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni's article entitled " The Limits of Dialogue and a Symphony that Sounds Wrong" in which he criticises the symphonic tribute to the memory of the Jewish victims of the Shoah by the Catholic organization  "The Neocathechumenal Way" - in particular the concert of homage in Auschwitz, and implicitly the rabbis who attended this event and in particular myself;  was brought to my attention the first time it was published by Moked – Pagine Ebraiche - in Italian. Despite the fact that I considered the article to be an unfair misrepresentation, I did not feel that I should reply to it publicly in case this be mistaken as some personal conflict between Rabbi Di Segni and myself. Indeed even when his article was republished in English, I felt that I should wait until I met with Rabbi Di Segni face to face and explain directly my strong reservations regarding his comments and approach. This meeting took place in his office a month and a half ago, where I sought to clarify the events and my position and I mentioned that I had not wanted to contradict him publicly. Rabbi Di Segni told me that on the contrary, if we had a sincere difference of opinion (I had termed it a "makhloket lshem shamayim", a sincere argument for the sake of Heaven), then he would welcome my public comment. I was nevertheless surprised to see that his article has been reissued again by the Moked International website and therefore in light of Rabbi Di Segni's own encouragement to me, I have requested this "right of reply"

*Rabbi David Rosen is the American Jewish Committee’s International Director of Interreligious Affairs.

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moked è il portale dell'ebraismo italiano

This newsletter is published under difficult conditions. The editors of this newsletter are Italian journalists whose native language is Italian. They are willing to offer their energy and their skills to give international readers the opportunity of learning more about the Italian Jewish world, its values, its culture and its traditions.
In spite of all our efforts to avoid this, readers may find the occasional grammatical mistake. We count on your understanding and on your help and advice to correct these mistakes and improve our publication.

Pagine Ebraiche International Edition is published by the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI). UCEI publications encourage the understanding of the Jewish world and the debates within it. The articles and opinions published by Pagine Ebraiche International Edition, unless expressly stated otherwise, cannot be interpreted as the official position of UCEI, but only as the self-expression of the people who sign them, offering their comments to UCEI publications. Readers who are interested in making their own contribution should email us at desk@ucei.it 
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© UCEI - All rights reserved - The articles may only be reproduced after obtaining the written permission of the editor-in-chief. Pagine Ebraiche - Reg Rome Court 199/2009 – Editor in Chief: Guido Vitale - Managing Editor: Daniela Gross.
Special thanks to: Susanna Barki, Monica Bizzio, Rachel Briks, Benedetta Guetta, Francesca Matalon,
Giovanni Montenero, Lisa Palmieri-Billig, Giandomenico Pozzi, Daniel Reichel, Sharon Reichel, Rabbi David Rosen, Adam Smulevich, Simone Somekh, Rossella Tercatin, Ada Treves.

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Realizzato con il contributo di
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