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January 18, 2016 - Shevat 8, 5776


Jorge Bergoglio Visits the Synagogue of Rome

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By Rossella Tercatin
Jorge Bergoglio visited the great synagogue of Rome on Sunday afternoon. He was welcomed by the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities Renzo Gattegna, the president of the Jewish Community of Rome Ruth Dureghello and the chief rabbi of Rome Riccardo Di Segni.
Before entering the building, Bergoglio paid tribute to the plaques that recall the victims of the Shoah, and the two-year-old boy murdered by Palestinian terrorists in 1982.
Inside the synagogue, the pontiff thanked the community in Hebrew with the words “todah rabbah,” calling them “our elder brothers and sisters.”

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speech by chief rabbi of rome - full text

“Our Friendship in a New Era”

img headerBy Riccardo Di Segni
Welcome, Pope Francis, to the Great Synagogue in Rome; a place which was built as a sign of freedom after centuries of restrictions and humiliations;  a place visited by kings, presidents, ministers; offended by the Nazis and stained with blood by Palestinian terrorists; but especially a house of prayer where the Jewish people in Rome have celebrated and still celebrate the most important moments of their private and collective life. Today the Temple is grateful to receive the third visit of the Pope and Bishop of Rome. According to the juridical rabbinic traditions, an act repeated three times becomes chazaqà, a habit. Clearly this is a concrete sign of the new era, after all that happened in the past.  The breakthrough produced by the Vatican Council fifty years ago  was confirmed by numerous and fundamental acts and declarations, the last one month ago, which opened up and established a new path to mutual knowledge, respect and collaboration.
Pope Francis is welcomed by the Jewish Community of Rome. We receive him in this community of faith with its ancient and sacred vocation which, as promised to Abraham, invokes a blessing on those who bless us. The people here today are the historical memory of this community, the unfortunately very few and last survivors of the horrors of the  extermination camps,  those wounded by terrorist attacks but also the witnesses and the protagonists of the intense organizational and religious life of this community. A community  that resists the seductions of this time and invests its energy on its spiritual and social growth,  in line with the ancient teachings. It is a positive and constructive testimony of its values in a society for which it difficult to find its own way.

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speech by ucei president - full text

“The Importance of Symbolic Gestures”

img headerBy Renzo Gattegna

Dear Pope Francis,
It is with a spirit of profound respect that, on behalf of all the Italian Jewish Communities, I offer you our warmest welcome.
I am aware that you have come to this Temple to meet Italian Jewry, with its thousand-year-old history of faith and culture, suffering and life.
Your visit will further strengthen the process of dialogue, friendship and brotherhood between the Jewish People - the People of the Covenant - and the Catholic Church.
Your visit today follows the preceding visits of Pope John Paul II in 1986 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, each of which marked an increase in the level of our relations.
We have an indelible memory of the images of the historic embrace between Pope John Paul II and Rabbi Elio Toaff thirty years ago, April 13, 1986. I was present, and I saw with my own eyes how the two approached one another, first held each other’s hands and then let themselves go in that gesture, one leaning against each other as if to sustain each other and erase the distance that for centuries had been unbridgeable.
On January 17, 2010 I had the pleasure of participating personally, as representative of Italy’s 21 Jewish Communities, in the visit of Pope Benedict XVI, then as today, together with our Chief Rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni.  It was a significant meeting, with rich contents, during which the Pope reaffirmed our shared common roots as the basis to overcome all forms of misunderstanding and prejudice.
These two encounters have constituted crowning moments and the ideal continuation of a path that has not always been easy, which has its origins in the fundamentally positive shift ushered in with the promulgation of the Second Vatican Council’s declaration, “Nostra Aetate.”

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speech by president of the jewish community of rome - full text

“Together, We Are Writing History”

img headerBy Ruth Dureghello

With the permission of Chief Rabbi, Riccardo Shemuel Di Segni,
and of the Masters,
I would like to welcome the religious, civilian and military authorities present here, the representatives of the state of Israeli and all of you.
I feel moved to welcome Pope Francis on behalf of the whole Jewish community of Rome, the third Pope to cross the threshold of our Great Synagogue, whose short distance from St. Peter's has seemed almost impossible to travel for centuries. Today's meeting shows that the dialogue between great religions is possible. It is a pledge to be open to others and to promote peace and freedom for each human being. This shared commitment became a reality for the first time on April 13, 1986 with the Pope's historical visit to this Synagogue.
We are here today thanks to two great champions of our time and especially to their courage: John Paul II and Elio Toaff zl. May their memory be a blessing for all of us.
This historical event occurred again on January 17, 2010, thus giving continuity to the friendly relationships between the two banks of the Tiber. This is the reason why I want to extend my warmest greetings to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
Today we are again writing history.

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New Stolpersteine Placed in Italy

img headerBy Rachel Silvera
Every stone bears a story. Every stone reveals a name. Every stone remembers a life. A number of new stolpersteine (literally “stumbling blocks”) were placed in Italy, in Rome and in Turin, to commemorate the victims of Nazi-fascist persecution. Created by German artist Gunter Demnig twenty years ago, the stolpersteine are placed outside the houses of Holocaust victims to remember them. Every stone bears the name, the age, the birthdate and place of deportation and, if known, the year of death of the victim. The project was developed by Demnig to keep alive the memory of those who never returned to their homes all over Europe.
In Rome 11 new stolpersteine were added to the 226 already installed, while Turin now counts 40 new stones. Adachiara Zevi, who heads the association "Arte in Memoria" (Art in Memory), explained: "Since 2010, we have placed over 230 stones in Rome. Demnig’s idea has taken a step forward and its artwork has become a real map of European Memory, reaching a total of 56,000 stolpersteine in different cities".

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Remembrance: New Horizons ahead

img headerBy Ada Treves

Ambassador Sandro De Bernardin (in the picture with demographer Sergio Della Pergola), recently appointed Head of the Italian Delegation of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, is resolute and full of energy. His name is not new to Italian diplomacy, working as the Italian ambassador in Israel and holding several tasks of significance at Farnesina’s Director General for Political Affair and Security. His competence on Remembrance, research and education, the main themes of IHRA, goes hand in hand with the attention developed during long years of work on delicate topics. His first words are to underline the importance of an international institution - the once called Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research (ITF) – created in 1998 by Sweden’s prime minister

*This article has been translated in English by Letizia Anelli, student at the Scuola superiore interpreti e traduttori di Trieste, ‎who is doing her apprenticeship within the newsroom of Pagine Ebraiche.

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Teatro La Fenice to Host Ceremony Marking the 500th Anniversary of Venice’s Ghetto

img headerBy Rossella Tercatin

Teatro La Fenice, one of the most renowned Italian opera houses, will be the venue of the official opening ceremony in remembrance of the creation of the Ghetto of Venice, the first ghetto in history, in 1516 On March 29, 2016, representatives of Italian and international institutions and Jewish leaders from all over the world will gather to listen to the keynote speaker, the British historian, Simon Schama. Afterwards, Israeli conductor Omer Meir Wellber will conduct the Fenice Orchestra in Gustav Mahler’s Symphony no. 1 in D Major.
The event is organized in collaboration with the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI) with the support of the World Jewish Congress and the European Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture and Heritage (AEPJ).

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A Surprising Italian Renaissance

img headerBy Julie Carbonara*

Through the centuries, in spite of their meagre numbers, Italian Jews have had a huge impact on Italian life and on Judaism as a whole. Currently, Italian Judaism is undergoing a transformation, fuelled partly by the influx of Jews from Arab countries over the past decades and a revival in the South where it had been virtually absent for hundreds of years.
Standing at about 28,500, Italy's Jewish population may be among the smallest in Europe but that has always been the case. "However, although there are few of us, Italian Jews have characterised and often determined many pivotal events in Jewish history," points out historian Gadi Luzzatto Voghera. "It was here that Hebrew typography was born at the end of 1400; the standard form of Talmud (still in use today) was founded in Venice; and the first rabbinical college was opened in Padua in 1829. These are just a few examples. You don't need big numbers to make an impact."ies.

*The London Jewish Chronicle, January 4, 2016. In the picture, the Chanukah public lighting in the city of Trani, Apulia.

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Geschichte in der Deutschen Scola


von Andrea M. Jarach*

In ihrer Blütezeit zählte die jüdische Gemeinde Padua rund 1300 Mitglieder. Heute sind es nur etwa 180. Doch es beeindruckt, was diese kleine Gemeinde auf die Beine stellt. Mit überwiegend eigenen Mitteln hat sie in der alten Synagoge, der ehemaligen Deutschen Scola, ein jüdisches Museum eingerichtet. Seit seiner Eröffnung vor einem halben Jahr ist es zu einer kulturellen Selbstverständlichkeit der Stadt geworden.
Anfangs war das Museum nur an zwei Tagen pro Woche geöffnet. Trotzdem wurden bereits mehr als 3000 Besucher gezählt, und es haben viele Veranstaltungen stattgefunden. Das Kuratorium hat zudem einen zweisprachigen Katalog und einen kleinen Führer durch das alte Ghetto und das jüdische Padua herausgegeben.

*Jüdische Allgemeine Wochenzeitung, 14.01.2016.

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My Muslim Colleague and I


By Susanna Calimani*

Let's talk about it, although it's kind of private.
A few days ago I went for lunch with my colleague: he comes from North Africa, he is Muslim, a PhD student here in Germany and currently sitting in front of me at the European Central Bank, so not really the last caveman. Obviously we talked about a bit of everything, but mostly about Judaism, stereotypes, prejudice, Israel and Palestine.
I did my part, as always.
He told me he grew up, with all his friends, always being taught to hate Israel, and all the Israelis; and it's hard to get rid of stereotypes; almost impossible. I didn't ask him, he told me, spontaneously. Then he added it would be weird for him not to teach his kids to hate Israel and all the Israelis.

*Susanna Calimani is a wandering economist, currently based in Frankfurt.

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Ceder à rien


By Guido Vitale

“Nous ne devons céder à rien, nous continuerons a porter la kippa”. (Rav Haim Korsia, grand rabbin de France).

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Leaving Europe


By Daniela Gross

“While the wave of refugees to Europe from the Middle East doesn’t seem to stop, an opposite migration is quietly taking place. As reported by The Washington Post, “Jewish immigration to Israel from Western Europe has reached an all-time high as a result of a rise in anti-Semitic attacks, a leading nonprofit group said Thursday, as France's beleaguered Jewish community grapples with whether to refrain from donning Jewish skullcaps for safety.” 

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moked è il portale dell'ebraismo italiano

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Realizzato con il contributo di: Francesco Moises Bassano, Susanna Barki, Amanda Benjamin, Monica Bizzio, Angelica Edna Calò Livne, Eliezer Di Martino, Alain Elkann, Dori Fleekop, Daniela Fubini, Benedetta Guetta, Sarah Kaminski, Daniel Leisawitz, Annette Leckart, Gadi Luzzatto Voghera, Yaakov Mascetti, Francesca Matalon, Jonathan Misrachi, Anna Momigliano, Giovanni Montenero, Elèna Mortara, Sabina Muccigrosso, Lisa Palmieri Billig, Jazmine Pignatello, Shirley Piperno, Giandomenico Pozzi, Daniel Reichel, Colby Robbins,  Danielle Rockman, Lindsay Shedlin, Michael Sierra, Rachel Silvera, Adam Smulevich, Simone Somekh, Rossella Tercatin, Ada Treves, Lauren Waldman, Sahar Zivan.