For Immediate Announcement

First Woman Rabbi in Italy conducts first Jewish Wedding

and Bar Mitzvah in Calabria

the deep south of Italy since Inquisition Times

It’s a time of firsts for the Jews of Calabria, the region of Italy in the deep south or the “foot of the boot.”

In 2004 Rabbi Barbara Aiello, whose Jewish ancestors were once crypto or secret Italian Jews, became the first woman and first Progressive rabbi in Italy.

In 2007, with the help of a grant from a US philanthropy, The Vuolo-Bernstein Family Foundation, Rabbi Aiello established the Italian Jewish Cultural Center of Calabria (IjCCC) along with the first operational synagogue since Inquisiton times.

On May 5, 2007 Synagogue Ner Tamid del Sud (The Eternal Light of the South) hosted the first Jewish wedding to take place in Calabria since the long arm of Torquemada reached into Sicily and Calabria, forcing Jews to convert or be killed. The wedding was held at Nicastro the old fortification from the first century that overlooks the “Timpone” the Jewish Quarter that dates from the 9th century and is still intact. In this beautiful setting Andrew Ewart and Lupe Torres were married under the chuppah. They exchanged wedding vows using the ancient Italian Jewish practice of wrapping the couple in the tallit, symbolizing God’s loving embrace.

On June 15, 2007 the Waldman family will travel from New York City to Calabria to celebrate their son, Tyler’s becoming a Bar Mitzvah. The ceremony will be the first one held at the synagogue and will include Progressive Jewish families from as far away as Turin and Naples.

Local Calabrian historian Professor Vincenzo Villella has been instrumental in documenting the Jewish presence in Calabria since ancient times. Prior to the Jews’ expulsion from Spain and subsequent forced conversions during the Inquisition, the Jewish population of Calabria was nearly 50 percent of the total.

Now, with the advent of the IjCCC, synagoga Ner Tamid and a rabbi living and working in Calabria, the Jews of Calabria have the opportunity to reconnect with their roots and traditions that characterize them as the oldest Jews in the Diaspora. For more information

Rabbi Barbara Aiello

Via Scaramuzzino 36

88046 Lamezia Terme (CZ) Italy

Telephone: from the US: (home) 011.39.0968.44 86 14

Cell: 011.39.333.535.0647