Sunday, January 17, 2010

Rome and Jerusalem

UPDATE: I watched all one and a half hours of the live broadcast of the visit and speeches and music. It was all very moving! You can read Pope Benedict's address at .
In a few hours Pope Benedict will make a rare visit inside a synagogue, the Great Synagogue of Rome, and then go outside to plant an olive tree together with his Jewish "brothers and sisters."
Meanwhile, let me show you our own Italian synagogue here in Jerusalem.

I posted the Italian Festival last summer (click on the tag "Italian" below) that took place in the courtyard, but you still have not seen the Italian Jewish Art Museum or the old synagogue inside the building.

Above the entrance is written Beit Knesset ke-minhag Bene Roma, Tempio Italiano.

The rite of the Conegliano Synagogue is technically called "Minhag Bnei Roma" (Children of Rome Prayer Custom), "Loez"(Foreign), or "Italiani."
In modern Hebrew it is called " Minhag Italki" (Italian Prayer Custom).
Wikipedia says that "Italian Jews can be traced back as far as the second century BCE: tombstones and dedicatory inscriptions survive from this period. At that time they mostly lived in the far South of Italy, with a branch community in Rome, and were generally Greek-speaking. It is thought that some families (for example the Adolescenti) are descendants of Jews deported from Judaea by the emperor Titus in 70 CE."

Welcome inside the 300-year-old interior of the synagogue.
After World War II it was dismantled in a huge rescue operation in the village of Conegliano in Italy. The furnishings arrived in Jerusalem in 1951 and the restoration began.

This is the bimah, the platform on which the Torah scroll is read.

The bimah faces the holy ark or aron kodesh, inside which the Torah scroll are kept.
Elements of the ornate ark may be from even before 1700.

The women's gallery is on top.
All in grand Baroque style.
The men sit on the benches on the main floor.
Services are on Saturday (Shabbat) morning.
Here is a photo borrowed from photographer Jonathan Sierra.
See more of his good photos of the worshippers at an Israelity Blog recent post.
More about the fascinating synagogue and museum at the Jerusalem Italian Jews Association website.
Jerusalem Post on Jewish protests to the Pope's visit.
Wiki on the history of Jews in Italy is here.
About Il Rito Bene Romi prayerbook and liturgy (in Italian).
MP3 of the Shema prayer chanted in Roman rite.
The portal for news of Italy's Jews (in Italian), which will soon have hopefully good news about the visit of il Papa --
or in English and other languages, the Pope's YouTube channel.


Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Amazing. Thanks for sharing.

Leif Hagen said...

THANKS for a wonderful look inside the synagogue! I was surprised to see Baroque style - I don't know why.

Robin said...

I've always liked that synagogue - it looks so quintessentially [i]Italian[/i] :).

Sara said...

A beautiful place. I can't help thinking how pleased the craftsmen and builders who fashioned this place 300 years ago would be to know that their work is now being used to worship God in Jerusalem! Or, maybe they do know...

FA said...

I am impressed that you know that the Pope is visitng a Synagogue today. I wasn't aware of that. I'm glad that he's keeping the inter-faith dialogue, that was a priority for John Paul II (the Great?!?!?), open. Thanks for the great pictures -a fitting and beautiful place for the worship of our God.

Dina said...

FA, this is a moving and historic couple of hours! As we speak, being televised (TV and Internet) all over the world.
and click on the flashing red words on the left.

It is only the 2nd visit of a reigning pope to a synagogue in history!

VP said...

I know well this place, it was just behind my hotel the first time I was in Jerusalem.
It is wonderful that the beautiful furnishing of the old synagogue found a new life here.

FA said...

Thanks for telling me Dina. I'm watching....although understanding very little. Nevertheless, it's blessing to be able to watch this, "together", in different parts of the world and from our respective faith traditions!

Chuck Pefley said...

I'm always astounded by stories of complete buildings being taken apart and moved from one country to another. What an undertaking and what an amazing history this community has. Thank you for sharing this!

Rob and Mandy said...

What a beautiful synagogue!

Dick said...

Thanks for the history lesson, very interesting.
The synagogue is beautiful, great shots.

BlossomFlowerGirl said...

I've not seen inside a synagogue before. It's very beautiful and it looks so peaceful.
Melbourne /daily Photo

Dina said...

Thank you all for your impressions. Hope you have seen more from Rome meanwhile on your TV news.

Anonymous said...

Very ornate!

Cloudia said...

I show a cathedral,
you show a Shul-
copycat LOL!

Just brilliant architecture, Dina.
You blog such amazing quality day after day! So glad I'm a member here.

Aloha, Friend!

Comfort Spiral

moneythoughts said...

Thank you for sharing these photos. I have read some history of Italian Jews over the years, and now I have the pleasure to see some photos. I will come back and study the photos in more detail later.

Thanks again.

Louis la Vache said...

Apropos to this post, this morning at the Sunday Forum at our parish before the Choral Eucharist, we watched a video of Elie Wiesel speaking before the German Parliament, and the President of the German Parliament in Israel.

crederae said...

hello oh I mean bonjourno,
Ilove the baroque banisters by the way. beautiful presentation.

Catherine said...

Baroque ! That's the word, Dina...
I've followed your link to the Jerusalem Post. At first sight, I found this visit a perfect sign of dialogue and opening between the 2 religions, they need this striving.
But, if this visit is a political mean to "counterbalance" the Pope Pius's beatification..;it's not very correct.
I prefer imagining that it's done in the same feeling of opening and rapprochement between both religions, as Jean Paul II has done it.

Dina said...

Catherine, I debated whether to put in that Jerusalem Post link, but in the spirit of fairness thought I had to include it. But frankly, I am tired of some Jews so busy whining about Pope Pius maybe becoming a saint that they cannot see the greatness of yesterday's visit in Rome. Catholics and Jews have come such a long way, and this is what should be emphasized.

Dina said...

Correction to my own comment:
I meant to say this is only the second sitting Pope in history to visit a synagogue. Pope Benedict has been to three.

Dina said...

Louis, nice you could see those videos. I blogged about Merkel at the Knesset then:
And today, the German Chancellor received Prime Minister Netanyahu at a historic joint meeting of the two countries' cabinets in Berlin.

Pietro said...

Dina, you are too fast with the posts, I am too slow in the comments! ;-) I'm joking, of course!
Thanks for this really wonderful article: the pictures of the synagogue are fantastic.
Yesterday the Pope's visit to the Synagogue has been very good and encouraging: I'm so glad of it.
Happy new week!

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I think I missed the great event but I'd rather spend time exploring your photo documentation. Most of my understanding of middle eastern history comes from the writer Karen Armstrong (especially Islam post 9/11). It's always a pleasure to add to the story and this bit on the Italians does for me.

Off topic: Have you ever come upon information connected to one of the 12 tribes of Israel in China?

Dina said...

Pietro, I was hoping you Italian blogger friends would see our Italian synagogue.

PA, Karen Armstrong? I have her _A History of Jerusalem Once City, Three Faiths_!

I once long ago heard something about the lost tribe in China. But too long ago to remember what. ;)

Jew Wishes said...

What breathtaking photos, Dina! I am so grateful you shared these.

The first one, with the arch, is so illuminating. What a wonderful interior to the synagogue.

Kay said...

This is very beautiful, Dina. Thank you for showing it to us. I'm glad the pope is making an effort to build a peace bridge. It is badly needed.