The Foundation for Jewish Cultural Heritage in Italy has launched its first crowdfunding campaign geared to financing the restoration of an ancient Sefer Torah from the synagogue of Biella, a project undertaken together with the Jewish Community of the city to bring back into use one of the oldest scrolls in Italy. This is a first for the Jewish cultural world of Italy, as the president, Dario Disegni, points out, explaining the reasons for the decision to make use of the online collective funding system to carry through the initiatives of the Foundation.
The work on the Sefer Torah of Biella, written in Ashkenazi script in the 14th Century, is a “emblematic restoration”, emphasises Disegni, because “if the Carbon 14 tests confirm it this could be the most ancient Sefer Torah in use in Italy today”. This is why the Foundation chose to begin from here, with the intention of using crowdfunding for other later projects if the experience proves positive. The work to be done on the Sefer of Biella, says the Foundation, will include cleaning and restoring the parchments, filling in the letters that are broken or have gaps or cracks in the ink and restoring all the woodworm holes with parchment paste. “What we have here is a cultural heritage of great value and, at the same time, a small-scale project requiring a modest budget”, continues Disegni, “which means we will be accepting smaller donations but from a great number of donors, and this will also serve as a thermometer of the Foundation’s followers.”
With the current difficulty in obtaining public funds, Disegni has observed that all cultural entities in the country are seeking alternative ways to mobilize funding for projects and initiatives and crowdfunding has become one of the most popular due to the results already achieved. “We believe it will also be productive to use crowdfunding in the context of the Italian Jewish Community, with a campaign targeted to everyone”, the goal of which being the return of the Sefer Torah by the spring of 2016.
Francesca Matalon twitter @fmatalonmoked
(February 16th, 2016)