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June 9th, 2014 - Sivan 11th, 5774

The Strongest Shield
by Guido Vitale*

Ofra Fahri, the cultural attaché of the Israeli Embassy in Rome, announced at the opening of the Venice Biennale of Architecture that she is about to leave her post in our country and return to Jerusalem. We owe her a big thank you. The way she has succeeded - with sensitivity and poise - to foster a deeper understanding of Israeli culture is a major achievement. The strongest shield that Israel can employ is its ability to export Israeli culture and its love for freedom, diversity and democracy.

*Guido Vitale is the editor-in-chief of Pagine Ebraiche.
Italian Word of the Week:
by Daniela Gross

Unfortunately “antisemitismo”, so similar to the English term “anti-Semitism”, is still a very alive word and, what is worse, a current mental habit: in Italy as in the rest of Europe. According to a recent survey commissioned by Anti-Defamation League about the attitudes toward Jews around the world, 20% of Italians hold traditionally anti-Semitic stereotypes. Maybe not so bad, in front of the incredible scores of Greece (69%), Hungary (41%) or France (37%). But incredibly worrying, in absolute terms and compared to the reality of Northern European countries such as Denmark or Sweden (9% and 4%) or to the U.S. (here 9 per cent of those surveyed revealed anti-Semitic views).

An Italian Jew has to cope, since the childhood, with behaviors and statements inspired by clichés or prejudice and also the public speech often reflects that kind of attitudes. The Observatory on Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Prejudice in Italy, in 2013 registered about fifty episodes of anti-Semitism, not more than in the precedent three years. They consist mainly in offensive graffiti, email or other communications to Jewish institutions or leaders, public declarations, insulting chants and banners during soccer games (the extremism in the stadiums is a disturbing and increasing phenomenon). And in this frame the internet plays, in Italy like over the world, an impressive role in spreading hatred words.
Therefore the dramatic events in Brussels renewed fears and concerns never dead. And reminded us that even 70 years after the D-Day the world is not free of anti-Semitism.
Peres and Napolitano
The Goodbye of Two Old Friends

By Rossella Tercatin

“Peace does not come easy. We must work with all our might until it is achieved, and achieved quickly. Even if it calls for sacrifice and compromise. The Palestinians are our neighbors. We pray that soon we will live in mutual respect and good neighborliness”. The words pronounced by the President of the State of Israel Shimon Peres from the podium inside the Vatican gardens, praying for the peace in the Middle East alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Pope Francis were broadcasted all over the world.
Jorge Bergoglio’s initiative to invite the two leaders together with three delegations representing the world’s three great monotheistic religions - Christianity, Judaism and Islam –was extensively covered by Italian, Israeli as well as international media (and part of the Jewish delegations were also several Italian Jewish leaders, among them the President of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities Renzo Gattegna, the President of Rome Jewish Community Riccardo Pacifici, and the Chief Rabbi of Florence Joseph Levi).

However, only few weeks before the expiration of his seven years mandate as Israeli President, Peres’ visit to Italy is also the occasion for a last official visit to an old and dear friend and colleague: the President of Italy Giorgio Napolitano.

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Solidarity in Brussels
By Adam Smulevich

The leaders of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) and of the Belgian Government agreed to work together on issues related to improving Holocaust education and the fight against anti-Semitism, racism and terrorism. At the meetings in Brussels between a WJC solidarity mission comprised of 38 Jewish leaders with Belgium’s Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, Interior Minister Joëlle Milquet and Minister of Justice Annemie Turtelboom, both sides agreed on the necessity of strengthening cooperation on a European and world-wide level to prevent further deadly attacks such as the one committed at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels.

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Pope Francis’ Visit, Seen from Rome in a Catholic TV Studio
By Lisa Palmieri-Billig*

Having had the good fortune of being able to watch the close-ups of almost every moment of Francis’ visit to Israel while acting as AJC (American Jewish Committee) guest commentator at the TV studios of the Italian Bishops Conference in Rome, I was touched by this Pope’s genuine humanity.  His warm, informal, intimate and spontaneous but also well thought out comments and gestures completed a process of transformation of the papal image that first began over a half-century ago with John XXIII, known as “the good pope”.
Despite the extreme briefness of his trip (which pessimists had predicted would make it meaningless), Francis managed to balance out the conflicting expectations of both Palestinians and Israelis by acts of highly symbolic significance.

*AJC Representative in Italy and Liaison to the Holy See

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The Global History
of Jewish Food

By Ada Treves

It is well known that food has a great importance in Italian culture. At least as much as it has in Jewish culture. And the only Italian University where all courses and subjects have to do with food is the promoter of an international seminar about Jewish Food. Professor Simone Cimotto, an expert in America History whose interests include Migration History and Food History, has used his extensive experience in American Universities to organize “The Global History of Jewish Food”, that will take place on the 9th and 10th of June at the University of Gastronomic Sciences, in Pollenzo, Piedmont.

The University, founded in 2004 by the international non-profit organization Slow Food, in cooperation with two Italian regions (Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna), is a ministerially recognized, private non-profit institution. Its goal is to create an international research and education centre for those working on renewing farming methods, protecting biodiversity, and building an organic relationship between gastronomy and agricultural science. So its laureate, the “Gastronomes”, hailing from all over the world, are a new professional figure, with many skills.

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Florence, Waiting for Balagan

By Simone Somekh*

The second edition of Balagan Café, a Jewish culture festival taking place in front of the majestic synagogue of Florence, is set to start on June 12th.

The project, designed by musician and klezmer expert Enrico Fink, aims to open the Jewish community to the vibrant cultural life of Florence. With a busy schedule that is going to entertain the audience for the entire summer with live concerts, aperitifs, and stands selling traditional Jewish food and kosher wines, the festival will try to top the unique and unprecedented magic that was created with last year’s premiere edition and that attracted a total of 800 people to the several events that were organized.

*Simone Somekh is a student at Bar-Ilan University, Israel

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Francesco Moises Bassano

Como ha escrito el director de Pagine Ebraiche, Guido Vitale, la finalidad de esta edición internacional, es  introducir y contar al mundo la vivaz historia y la cultura de los judíos italianos, pero es asimismo una buena oportunidad de emplear y beneficiarse del conocimiento de otro idioma distinto al propio.

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Breaking the Tablets

By Yaacov Mascetti*

The story of "Maamad Har Sinai" is a one of revelation, within the framework of a synesthetic experience, in which God writes his commandments onto two stone tablets. The narrative opens many questions and answers few, leaving the reader in a wonder-struck confusion, while it delineates the traits of a unique historical event. Moses climbs up to Mt Sinai in order to receive the Law, while the people stand around the mountain and refrain from touching it or eliciting any other contact with the Divine agent. Upon ending the revelation, upon having finished, or maybe begun, the process of transmission of the Torah, Gd gives the tablets to Moses, an object carrying words "written with the finger of Gd" (Deuteronomy 32:16ff).

*Ph.D., Department of Comparative Literature, Bar Ilan University

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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 an occasional language 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 an understanding of the Jewish world and the debate 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: Francesco Moises Bassano, Susanna Barki, Monica Bizzio, Benedetta Guetta, Daniel Leisawitz, Gadi Luzzatto Voghera, Yaakov Mascetti, Francesca Matalon,
Giovanni Montenero, Elèna Mortara, Lisa Palmieri Billig, Shirley Piperno, Giandomenico Pozzi, Daniel Reichel, Adam Smulevich, Simone Somekh, Rossella Tercatin, Ada Treves.

Questo notiziario è realizzato in condizioni di particolare difficoltà. I redattori di questo notiziario sono giornalisti italiani di madrelingua italiana. Mettono a disposizione le loro energie e le loro competenze per raccontare in lingua inglese l'ebraismo italiano, i suoi valori, la sua cultura e i suoi valori. Nonostante il nostro impegno il lettore potrebbe trovare errori e imperfezioni nell'utilizzo del linguaggio che faremo del nostro meglio per evitare. Contiamo sulla vostra comprensione e soprattutto sul vostro aiuto e sul vostro consiglio per correggere gli errori e migliorare.

Pagine Ebraiche International Edition è una pubblicazione edita dall'Unione delle Comunità Ebraiche Italiane. L'UCEI sviluppa mezzi di comunicazione che incoraggiano la conoscenza e il confronto delle realtà ebraiche. Gli articoli e i commenti pubblicati, a meno che non sia espressamente indicato il contrario, non possono essere intesi come una presa di posizione ufficiale, ma solo come la autonoma espressione delle persone che li firmano e che si sono rese gratuitamente disponibili. Gli utenti che fossero interessati a offrire un proprio contributo possono rivolgersi all'indirizzo  desk@ucei.it

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© UCEI - Tutti i diritti riservati - I testi possono essere riprodotti solo dopo aver ottenuto l'autorizzazione scritta della Direzione. Pagine Ebraiche International Edition - notiziario dell'ebraismo italiano - Reg. Tribunale di Roma 199/2009 - direttore responsabile: Guido Vitale -
Coordinamento: Daniela Gross.
Realizzato con il contributo di:
Francesco Moises Bassano, Susanna Barki, Monica Bizzio, Benedetta Guetta, Daniel Leisawitz, Gadi Luzzatto Voghera, Yaakov Mascetti, Francesca Matalon, Giovanni Montenero, Elèna Mortara, Lisa Palmieri Billig, Shirley Piperno, Giandomenico Pozzi, Daniel Reichel, Adam Smulevich, Simone Somekh, Rossella Tercatin, Ada Treves.