CALABRIA, Italy – No, you will not get a matzah ball recipe from Rabbi Barbara Aiello, but she will share her grandmother’s recipe for Italian wedding soup right next to an extra-large serving of a history lesson about the earliest Diaspora of Jews to southern Italy (in 267 BCE), specifically to the region of Calabria in the “toe of the boot.” And, yes, she keeps a kosher house and doesn’t eat pork or shellfish even outside her home. This is not so challenging in Italy, where the cuisine is so diverse.
Read in Italiano & English: La Rivista “Gattopardo,” the Magazine Gattopardo” in Italian translates to English as “Wildcat,” well named especially since the articles feature forceful and courageous Calabrians who are making a difference in the south of Italy. Rabbi Barbara is honored that the Serrastretta Synagogue is featured, along with the cultural center designed to help those with southern Italian heritage to discover their Jewish roots.
Like Marcy Kaptur, I have seen the effect that wearing a uniform can have on daily discourse. As far back as high school where the uniforms girls and boys wore created a visual balance between the sexes, to today’s television personalities like Greta Van Susteren, Rachel Maddow, Christiane Amanpour and Maria Bartiromo whose business suit “uniform” exemplifies equality in professional dress, clothing has the power to redirect attention from sex to substance.
The year was 1955 and I was eight years old. Back then Christmas was a magical time, even for us Jews. I recall that nearly every school held a Christmas pageant that featured stories, carols and the grand finale — a living Nativity scene with boys and girls dressed as the kings and angels, wise men and shepherds, Joseph, and the star of the show, the Virgin Mary. And even though we were Jewish, we were happy to share the Christmas holiday with our friends and neighbors. So that’s how it happened that I was to participate in the annual elementary school Christmas
Rabbi Barbara Aiello is proud to announce that Sinagoga Ner Tamid del Sud, serving the b’nei anusim of southern Italy has been accepted as a member synagogue in the Jewish Reconstructionist Movement. As the fourth largest movement of American Judaism,Sinagoga Ner Tamid del Sud becomes a part of the Reconstructionist stream which includes more than 100 affiliated ongregations throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe.
Visitors to Italy typically head to Venice, Florence and Rome — the historic big cities, rich with Jewish heritage and artistic treasures.
But farther south, Italy’s smaller, less-tourist-laden towns offer something else entirely: the opportunity to contemplate modest, meaningful artifacts of Italian Jewry amid the quiet of ancient walls and the scent of lemon groves. From the region around Rome south to Apulia, the vestiges of some of Europe’s most ancient Jewish communities — some dating as far back as ancient Greece — have lately been unearthed and restored, a poignant renaissance of heritage in a land where few Jews live today.
Rabbi Barbara Aiello, who grew up in Pittsburgh and is the first woman rabbi in Italy, has been working through Darshan to help people all over the world convert to Judaism.
But “It’s not online conversion; it’s online Jewish study that leads to a face-to-face conversion,” stressed Aiello, speaking from her home in southern Italy. Once a potential convert has achieved his or her required level of Jewish education, that person must come to Aiello to receive their certificate, their Hebrew name and be welcomed into her congregation, Sinagoga Ner Tamid del Sud.