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IMG_1058“Defending the immense legacy that belongs to the Jews of Italy, while also making a new mark, creating something, ensuring that we’re seen as active members of society, is the challenge into which we’ve decided to invest resources and energies. We are convinced that, just as historical sites have a strong identity-based value, contemporary spaces can also help us to feel strongly rooted in a community and to a culture whose tradition is very much alive”.

The words of the Jewish Community’s president Daniele De Paz introduced the moving opening ceremony of the new Tempio piccolo in Bologna. A day of celebration and renewal, addressed to the entire Italian Jewish population, which was represented today in its many facets by the older, young and very young generations (who were particularly numerous at the synagogue). Named to commemorate Renzo Yedidià Soliani, the Jewish Community’s president in the 1960s, all eyes were on this synagogue today with the ceremony and numerous initiatives, some for children too, scheduled for the afternoon. “The opening of a new synagogue is in itself, and perhaps due to its rarity too, an historic event, an incredibly joyful one, and is the tangible evidence of our desire to look to the future. And it’s all the more moving”, said Noemi di Segni, President of the UCEI, “to be opening, or rather re-opening, a place that already existed, so long ago, and which today will begin living again”.

Dario Disegni, President of the Italian Foundation for Jewish Cultural Heritage, added in his speech, concluding the first part of the event, “Understanding ‘the other’, people who are different from ourselves, is the best antidote to the blights of racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia, which unfortunately are spreading through our society increasingly quickly. So, on the one hand this place stands as a warning to reinforce our Jewish identity, and on the other, it encourages us to create a space for interaction and discussion with other members of society”.bologna 3

Rav Alberto Sermoneta, chief rabbi of Bologna, then began the inaugural religious ceremony. At his side stood rabbis Giuseppe Momigliano, Adolfo Locci and Alberto Somekh, who along with the chief rabbi took the Torah scrolls from the Aron, to share them with the entire community and with the various people attending (including the vice president of the UCEI Giulio Disegni, the Bologna Jewish community’s councillor Davide Menasci, and council members Vittorio Mosseri and Roberto Israel).

After this, Rabbis Sermoneta, Momigliano and Locci held some brief lessons on themes surrounding today’s ceremony. Rav Sermoneta recalled the importrance of minhag, namely the customs and traditions of a specific community; Rabbi Momigliano spoke about the responsibility of finding chesed, the goodness that God gave as a gift to all people; and Rabbi Locci discussed the history of the figure of the chazan, or cantor, from post-biblical literature to modern times.

A congratulatory message from the Israeli ambassador Ofer Sachs was also read out.

(26 March 2017)

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