Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Making Jewish History in Rome

Martha Ackelsberg, her partner, Judith Plaskow, and I made our way on Saturday evening to the reading of the megillah on Purm at Beit Hillel, the new progressive, egalitarian synagogue here in Rome.  Judith and Martha both read portions of the megillah, one of them in English and the other in Hebrew.  They were joined by others reading portions in Italian, French, Russian, Yiddish, and Spanish.  The rule is you must hear the megillah on Purim -- but it can be in any language!

We were told that this was the first reading of the megillah by men and women together in Rome's Jewish history.  I didn't ask for evidence, but it seems very possible.  I was glad to be present. We were at what is best described as a storefront stiebel, on Via dei Salumi, not a hundred yards from Spirito di Vino, a restaurant housed in the remains of a 12th century synagogue, when Trastevere was the home of most of the Jews in Rome, before they were forced, in 1555, into the ghetto across the Tiber.

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