Sunday, April 8, 2012

Ancient Synagogue in Calabria Comes to Light

One small section of the Jewish mosaic.
It was a blustery day in early February, when I set out for Bova Marina, an area not far from the big toe of the famous Italian "boot." I was traveling with my Canadian production crew, assembled to put the finishing touches on a documentary film which will feature the Italian Jewish Cultural Center of Calabria (IJCCC) and our nearly ten year effort to bring the history of Jewish Calabria to light. The film  itself  documents a longer international journey to highlight lost and isolated Jews of Calabria and Sicily and to feature individuals who have begun the journey to uncover their Jewish roots. The van was packed with equipment and people, and a hope to accomplish the day's extensive shot list before the sunlight faded.

Enrico Tromba and Rabbi Barbara
The archeological site has come a long way in four years. Overseen by Professor Enrico Tromba, the park, the painstakingly patient digs, and the noteworthy museum of ancient artifacts all represent years of hard work, as little by little, the ruins of an ancient synagogue have been revealed.

The location of such a archeological find is perhaps unexpected. The remnants of a foundation from long ago lie exposed beneath a piece of Italy's famous "autostrada," so that pieces of what was once a giant mosaic menorah were found in the dirt beneath an overpass. At a quick glance, it might look like organized rubble, nothing announces itself as a protected environment; a closer look, however, proves the existence of something not widely recognized in this region of southern Italy: there are Jewish roots here.

The rain threatened to to dampen our day as much of the necessary film footage required outdoor setups. In the end, the rain was kind, and only fell upon the van as we drove from location to location. Once we arrived to our destination, however, we were greeted with a lovely reminder that with the rain comes great beauty.

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