A Calabria Miracle!
When Covid Restrictions Cancelled our Chanukah Celebration the Local Parish Priest Offered the Church!
When Sinagoga Ner Tamid del Sud was deemed too small to meet Italy’s Covid 19 social distancing requirements it seemed that the annual Chanukah Menorah Lighting event would be cancelled.
“We considered creating an outdoor event but here in the mountains of Calabria (in the “toe” of the Italian “boot,”) the weather can be cold with wind and rain arriving at a moment’s notice,” said Rabbi Barbara Aiello, spiritual leader of southern Italy’s first and only active synagogue in 500 years since Inquisition times.
“We are a B’nai Anusim congregation,” says Rabbi Barbara, Italy’s first woman rabbi, “and our congregants are discovering and embracing their Jewish roots. For these hidden Jews, the holiday that celebrates holding fast to Jewish traditions is especially important.”
That’s when Don Antonio Costantino, local parish priest of Chiesa di Santa Maria dl Perpetua Soccorso came to the rescue. Rabbi Barbara and Don Antonio have been sharing Chanukah in the synagogue for many years and Don Antonio was determined to keep this important interfaith tradition alive.
“We invite the synagogue to use the church for Chanukah,” said Don Antonio who explained that the space was large enough to allow for ample social distancing, but more important, the church offered a way to continue an important Interfaith celebration.
Rabbi Barbara and her congregation are thrilled and grateful. Thanks to the artistic talent of carpentry specialist, Tommaso Caruso, this year’s Chanukah celebration will include a five foot tall Chanukah menorah made specially for this interfaith event. Rabbi Barbara explains, “We will bring our large collection of chanukiyot – nearly 50 beautiful pieces, and as we have done every year for a decade, we will kindle light in honor of religious freedom for all.”
The Chanukah service is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec 16 at 5:00 pm at Chiesa di Santa Maria dl Perpetua Soccorso.