When it comes to rediscovering the histories and artefacts of Sicily’s glorious Jewish past, opportunities for tourist development often arise; these situations are potentially worthwhile but must necessarily pass certain protocols with the regions and individual municipalities, Funaro explains. “Local governments must be made aware that the only official interlocutor is the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, and that consulting with the experts at the Fbcei is fundamental, namely the architects, historians and rabbis who help with research. It’s not enough for people to be acting in good faith; training and expertise are necessary, and the ability to confer with the appropriate institutions, which exist and which are already working more and more intensively, with excellent results”. The Fbcei’s activities have been focusing on southern Italy for several years now, with a specific commission working to maintain a constantly up-to-date vision of the situation, which is complex and very varied. Links with local institutions and universities are strong; many academics in southern Italy have a strong interest in the question. Furthermore, to coincide with the upcoming European Day of Jewish Culture (EDJC), the Foundation is retrieving and restaging two exhibitions curated by the Italian Cultural Heritage Commission – with which the Ucei and Fbcei have worked closely – and by the University of Palermo. These are two occasions for deepening and disseminating knowledge; they will be touring around the many towns involved in the EDJC in order to illustrate the specific features of Jewish Sicily. Indeed, a huge number of small towns and villages show evidence of a Jewish quarter, which often was very important to local history. This is a vast, fascinating field of research in which much has still to be discovered.
Ada Treves, twitter @ada3ves
Dossier Sicilia ebraica, Pagine Ebraiche – August 2017