Italy kulanu

Kulanu’s engagement in Italy is concentrated in the country’s south, where we work with Rabbi Barbara Aiello. Rabbi Barbara has taken it upon herself to educate about the persecution of Jews in Italy’s history and to try and revitalize Jewish practice there. She compares the historical experiences of some Jewish Italian communities to Anousim or Crypto-Jews (who had to worship in secret) and the Holocaust (persecution).

Who supports the work of Rabbi Aiello in Southern Italy? Support comes largely from donations, the translation of documents, genealogical research for those seeking information on their Sephardic Jewish heritage, historic tours of Sephardic sites in Southern Italy, and Bar/Bat Mitzvah and wedding celebrations.

While Italian law stipulates that the government fund all houses of worship, for Jewish communities, this applies ONLY to Orthodox synagogues. For synagogues like ours (recognized by the Reconstructionist movement) along with the three Reform communities in Italy, they are totally dependent upon donations for maintenance and support.

What would Rabbi Aiello do with more funds? She would translate Reform Jewish prayer books into Italian. She has permission to do so but lacks the funds. She would translate study guides and teaching materials into Italian for the teaching and learning of Hebrew. She would rent buses to bring individuals interested in attending her weekend Shabbatons from other villages up the mountain to Serrastretta.

Where does Rabbi Aiello’s greatest support come from? According to Rabbi Aiello, support comes from local Crypto-Jewish individuals and from families who often tiptoe into the synagogue and want to know who they are and where they come from. In addition, it comes from Italian-Americans whose families immigrated to the United States from Calabria and Sicily. These areas were (and still are) the poorest regions of Italy. As a result, the majority of Italian-Americans in the US trace their heritage to Southern Italy. Since both Sicily and Calabria once had a high percentage of Jews, there is a great possibility that many Italian-Americans have Jewish roots.

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Sinagoga Ner Tamid del Sud “The Eternal Light of the South” Synagogue

village of Serrastretta, region of Calabria

82 members

Official language: Italian and English

Local language: Italian

Rabbi Barbara Aiello email

              local telephone:  +39  0968 81302

              Skype id:  rbaiello

Contact Regional Coordinator

US State Dept Info

CDC Traveler’s Health Info

CIA World Factbook