FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION:
DISCOVERING JEWISH ITALY

(The article appeared in Moked/מוקד il portale dell'ebraismo italiano, o‍‍n October 26, 2021 and was translated by Aleksandra Makuch)

After several months of online meetings and sessions, the fifteen participants of the first edition of MiDorLeDor Italy finally managed to meet in person. They were joined by the Polish coordinators from the Taube Center in Warsaw, who–together with educators from the Union of Italian Jewish Communities–organized a two-day, intensive workshop in the ancient city of Rome.

The MiDorLeDor program was originally conceived by the Taube Center for Jewish Life & Learning to teach young people about Polish Jewish history. It was created to strengthen their understanding of the importance and impact of personal, communal, and national heritage. Now, in partnership with the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI) and the European Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture (AEPJ), the initiative made its way to Italy. The Italian edition, adapted to the needs and goals of the local Jewish community, is dedicated to the study and transmission of its Jewish cultural heritage. The program took its name from a biblical expression meaning “from generation to generation” to emphasize the importance of passing individual and collective inheritance onto the new generation.

The entire group had the opportunity to discover Roman Jewish heritage through site visits to the Jewish catacombs of Vigna Randanini and then at the Synagogue of Ostia Antica, the oldest synagogue in Europe. Adachiara Zevi, the founder of the Arteinmemoria Association, explored how the present can inspire a dialogue with the past through the language of art.

In another session, the participants began learning about the richness of Hebrew dialects in Italy, with a particular focus on Judeo-Italian. Actors Alberto Pavoncello and Rina Menasci engaged the group in discovering the intricate beauty of the language and learning about the efforts to transcribe Judeo-Italian sources.

The journey continued during the second day when the participants met with the representatives of the UCEI’s Bibliographic Center. Expert archivist Serena Terracina and Diletta Cesanain, secretary of the Jewish Cultural Heritage Foundation, shared the story of how the Center was founded and what treasures it contains.  

The group had a unique chance to interact with several of the preserved volumes and find out how they can be analyzed and studied. The day concluded with an in-depth workshop led by Marta Eichelberger-Jankowska, Educational Director at the Taube Center, exploring heritage narratives and how they can be developed around a specific theme. 

Towards the end of the second day the participants presented individual projects that they will implement in their communities or organizations, aiming to develop them around a common Jewish heritage.

The opportunity to study and experience Jewish cultural identities brought great ideas and inspired numerous questions to be pondered by the group in the coming months.

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