Jewish Calabria קאלאבריה יוהדית

Jewish Calabria קאלאבריה יוהדית
English abstracts (and something more) from the master blog Calabria judaica
(Sorry for my poor English: every help is welcome)


giovedì 13 marzo 2008

Reggio on the Jerusalem Post!


The Sephardi Perspective: Reclaiming the Jewish word
Posted by Ashley Perry (Perez)

While we look forward to Purim, there are many other reasons that Adar is such a celebratory month. The third of Adar commemorates the completion of the Second Temple, the seventh is the hilula of Moses and the 28th of Adar is a Talmudic celebration to commemorate the rescinding of a Roman decree against ritual circumcision, Torah study and keeping the Shabbat. However, another important date is often overlooked that goes to the root of the 'People of the Book' in the modern era.
Next week is the anniversary of the creation of the first printed and dated Hebrew book ever published with movable type on the 10th of Adar, Feb. 17, 1475. The book is a copy of Rashi's commentary of the Five Books of Moses. It was printed by Abraham ben Yitzhak ben Garton in Adar 5235 in the city of Reggio di Calabria, Italy. The sole copy of this book that still exists is kept in the Palatine Library in Parma, Italy. The method of type was called incunabula, which is a block-book printed from a single carved or sculpted wooden block for each page, made with individual pieces of cast metal movable type on a printing press, in the technology made famous by Johannes Gutenberg.
Relatively little is known of Garton, although most historians claim that he was a Spanish Jew who had escaped to Italy because of the wave of anti-Jewish hatred asserting itself in the Iberian Peninsular. Reggio di Calabria had become a haven for those Jews who fled Spain firstly because of the anti-Jewish violence and then the Spanish Inquisition.
Interestingly Garton used what has now become known as 'Rashi Script' which differs from other written forms of Hebrew. The type-set became known as Rashi Script because of this event; Rashi himself never used such a script. The script was known to be used by early Sephardi Jews and also became the type-set for Ladino, the language of the Iberian exiles.
This book set the tone for a cultural, intellectual and Judaic revolution. While the bastion of Jewish civilization which had been Spain was being literally burnt at the stake, the printing press in Central Europe allowed the Ashkenazi world to rise in dominance. Many Iberian exiles took the printing press to the Ottoman Empire and other parts of the Mediterranean. However, this venture did not permeate the Arab world in significant numbers.
The Arab world did not adopt a significant printing press for many centuries after Johannes Gutenberg first created the printed word. One reason is that the cursive nature of the Arabic script and certain of its other peculiarities made its adaptation to printing difficult. Another reason was the Western trend toward printing and the development of ornamental and sometimes elaborate type faces. In Islam, the drawing or depicting of human or animal forms was forbidden and writers and artists were forced to resort either to what has since come to be known as "arabesque" (designs based on strictly geometrical forms or patterns of leaves and flowers) or, very often, to calligraphy. This made writing the religiously preferred mode of copying texts.
While Christian Europe was undergoing the Renaissance and the Reformation, the Arab world had already been in decline for a couple of centuries. The 15th century Reconquista of Spain by the Catholic monarchs was the final nail in the coffin. The disruption to the cycle of equity based on Ibn Khaldun's famous model of Asabiyyah (the rise and fall of civilizations) points to the decline being mainly due to political and economic factors.
Tolerance of differing ideas and concepts had greatly reduced from the great Arab polemical debates at the turn of the millennium. This is perhaps best demonstrated by al-Ghazali's polemic work The Incoherence of the Philosophers.
This decline also affected the Jews within Arab lands as they were faced with more intolerant neighbors. While colonialism brought with it a rebirth in the standards of education for many Jews in the Arab World, centuries of lagging standards meant many were behind their European brethren. The Alliance Israélite Universelle, an organization created to combine the ideals of self-defense and self-sufficiency through education and professional development among Jews, disconnected many Jews from their traditions which in turn made sure they played little part in a Jewish intellectual renaissance.
Jewish printing presses from the Arab World during these centuries of decline were almost non-existent. This had a dramatic effect on the modern Jewish state. While religious life was largely unaffected due to the fact that large portions of the Sephardi service are sung or intoned in unison and thus had less use of printed prayer books, very few Jews of the Arab World had access to large compendiums of Jewish works.
While there was a time where almost all of the great Jewish treatises were Sephardi, recent times have proven the opposite is true. Today we see that most of the recent well-known works of Judaica are of Ashkenazi origin.
It is time for the great Sephardi mind to recapture their place in the Jewish world and not just in Halacha, where they have made inroads out of necessity. The great works of the Rambam, Ramban, Aboulafia, HaLevi and many others demonstrate that Sephardim have a rich history to rest on. The anniversary of the first Jewish printed book should be a good time of reflection for the Sephardim to share in the dissemination of the Jewish word.

giovedì 6 marzo 2008

Benedetto Musolino, the First Zionist

He was born in Pizzo Calabro, Calabria.
He was the first who proposed the Jewish State in Eretz and the Hebrew as its national language

Musolino, the Zionist
Sraya Shapiro, Jerusalem Post 04-03-1997
The first Zionist to claim Palestine for the Jews did it long before Herzl published his Altneuland.
He was Benedetto Musolino, a scion of a noble family in Calabria, southern Italy, says Bianca Romano-Segre, a veteran journalist who settled in Tel Aviv with her late husband just before World War II.
Musolino was an Italian patriot. He had studied philosophy and law, he took part in the rebellion against the Bourbons (for which he was imprisoned) and he lived as an exile in France and England. Musolino joined Garibaldi in the fight for a united Italy, and was ultimately honored as a member of parliament and a senator.
He died in 1885.

The Jewish Encylopedia
In the year 1870 [wrong, it was in 1851] Benedetto Musolino, a Christian and a fervent Italian patriot, worked out a complete plan for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, demonstrating the advantage of such a state not only to the Jews, but also to the Ottoman empire and to England.
In vain he tried to interest Lord Palmerston and the Rothschilds in the plan. Even his work "La Gerusalemme e il Popolo Ebreo" remained unpublished [actually, it was published in 1951 in Italian, and at the University of Jerusalem, Archive of the family Artom, there is a manuscript with a translation in Hebrew] ("The Maccabæan," 1905, p. 225).

The Jewish Agency for Israel
Benedetto Musolino (1809-1885) publishes "Gerusalemme e il Popolo Ebreo" - "Jerusalem and the Jewish People". He is influenced by the prevailing nationalist ideas which claim the right of all people for self-determination.
Benedetto Musolino was born in the townlet of Pizzo. He was active in "The Sons of New Italy" underground movement, and in 1848 was elected to the new parliament of the Kingdom of Naples. He was active in the declaration of Calabria as a new republic. He served in the army as a colonel and then in Garibaldi's army as a general. For some time he was a member of the Italian parliament and from 1880 was a senator.

sabato 1 marzo 2008

And We have Revealed to You...

Rashi's Commentary on the Pentateuch
Reggio di Calabria: Abraham ben Garton, [18 February1475]
First dated printed Hebrew Book

Fol. [1a] with commentary Genesis 3,8 (lines 9-11): "There are Many aggadic Midrashim, and our Rabbis have previously set them in proper order in Genesis Rabbah and other Midrash collections. However, I have come for the plain meaning of the biblical text and for the Aggadot that settle the words of the Scriptural text in their proper order."

Close-up, lines 9-11

This is the first printed Hebrew book to bear a date, (10 Adar 235 = 17/18 February1475). These images come from the facsimile of the only known close to complete copy, currently housed at the Biblioteca Palatina in Parma (ed. by J. Joseph Cohen, National and University Library, Jerusalem, [1969]). The Parma copy lacks the first leaves, and fol. [1a] begins with the comment to Genesis 3.4, "Thou shall surely not die.", the serpent's reply to Eve.
Although the first dated printed edition, the work is neither the first edition of Rashi's commentary, nor the first book to be printed in Hebrew. Between 1469 and 1472 three brothers, Obadiah, Menasseh, and Benjamin of Rome, were active as the first Hebrew typographers. Six works are positively known to have come off their press, among which was the first, albeit undated edition of Rashi's commentary. Nonetheless in 1475 edition Abraham Garton created and employed, for the first time, a typeface based on a Sephardic semicursive hand. It was this same style of typeface that a few years later, when commentary and text were incorporated onto one page, would be used to distinguish Rabbinic commentary from the text proper. Ultimately, this typeface would be known as "Rashi script."

In the world, there are only two anastatic pringings of this volume: one in Jerusalem and one in Reggio Calabria.

martedì 26 febbraio 2008

First Jewish Wedding in Calabria in 500 Years!

Rabbi Barbara Aiello officiated at the wedding ceremony that marked the first Jewish wedding in Calabria in 500 years, since Inquisition times. The “simcha” reunited Calabrians with their heritage, nearly lost after years of persecution.
The beautiful interfaith ceremony combined traditions from both Andy and Lupe’s heritage. Andy read from a prayer book brought from Germany by his Lutheran grandfather, while the Kiddush blessing featured a wine cup (kos Kiddush) given to Lupe by her colleagues for her work as Sisterhood president of her synagogue.

Calabria, characterized by its long sandy beaches, beautiful palm trees and ancient ruins, is one of Italy’s best kept secrets.
Part of those hidden traditions include the fact that Calabria, the region in the deep south or the “toe” of Italy’s boot, was once a center of Jewish thought and culture.
From the ancient castle of King Frederick II which dates back to the year 1000, to the excavation of the synagogue at Bova Marina (4th century CE), Calabria offers an unusually rich glimpse into Italy’s Jewish past. Lamezia Terme and its centro storico (historic center), Nicastro, where the old Jewish Quarter (Timpone) still stands is a perfect setting for a Jewish simcha.