More than 2,200 years of Jewish history are on display at the Museum of Italian Judaism and the Shoah, a new, landmark museum in the town of Ferrara. The exhibits will show what few know, that Jews have been contributing residents since before the arrival of the Normans and Spaniards. Tracing a route from Jerusalem to Rome, the exhibits show how Jews have always maintained their heritage while settling on the peninsula. “In today’s world, characterized by multi-identities, the Jewish experience maybe can serve as an inspiration,” said Simonetta Della Seta, director of the museum. One of the exhibits showcases an Italian Jew being deported to Rome after the destruction of Jerusalem; a Jewish scribe from the 12th century; a moneylender during the Renaissance age; and a Jewish girl who was expelled from school due to racial laws in 1938. The museum, which used to be an old prison, was constructed thanks in part to a 2006 law passed by Italy’s parliament and with support from the culture ministry and the Association of Italian Jewish Communities. The building is not complete and renovations are being done in stages. The finished product will comprise five “volumes,” symbolizing the five books of the Torah, and will house a restaurant, an auditorium, and exhibition spaces.
Amazon seems to have noticed that Israelis do a lot of online shopping, so they are planning to set up a retail shipping center in the country. The company is in talks to lease at least 270,000 square feet of warehouses in the country, according to the Israeli business daily Calcalist. Due to high retail prices and even higher taxes on items, Israelis are looking for bargains online, and if Amazon’s proposal goes through, the next step would be to launch a targeted website for Israeli consumers. The new warehouses could lower Amazon’s prices for Israeli consumers and drastically reduce the company’s delivery times. Amazon’s deliveries to Israel are supplied mainly through shipping centers in Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Elie Wiesel’s, Holocaust memorial in Athens was vandalized last month. Perpetrators erased inscriptions on the monument, which commemorates the more than 60,000 Greek Jews killed during World War II, according to the English-language Greek Reporter. The memorial features pieces of a broken marble Star of David, each representing a lost Greek Jewish community. The names of the communities are engraved in the marble piece pointing in the direction where they once existed. Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, renowned author, and Nobel Prize winner, wrote the inscription for the engraved plaque. It was written in Greek, French, and English, but only the English inscription remains. “Elie Wiesel’s appeal to the passerby to stand, to remember, to honor the victims of the Holocaust was turned into an act of vandalism, disrespect, insult,” said Minor Moisis, president of the Jewish community of Athens, according to the European Jewish Press. The memorial, erected in 2010, had faced previous desecration; back in 2014, it was spray-painted with anti-Semitic threats. The memorial will remain open and accessible to the public. Roughly 5,000 Jews currently reside in Greece.
The U.S. State Department will no longer fund the Palestinian Authority unless it stops dishing out money to the families of Palestinian murderers and terrorists convicted in Israeli courts, say Republicans from the United States House of Representatives, who recently passed such a bill. The bill, called the Taylor Force Act, is named after a U.S. Army veteran who was murdered in Jaffa in 2016 by a Palestinian assailant. The bill received virtually unanimous support after being drafted by Republicans and is awaiting approval from the Trump administration. While Jewish-American groups and Israel advocacy organizations praised the bill’s passage, the PA claimed that the funds are not monetary compensation for terrorists, but rather social security for the families of Palestinians unjustly detained or serving as legitimate combatants. The proposed bill would freeze financial assistance provided by the US absent reform while retaining aid allotted for security cooperation and some humanitarian relief.
Norwegian Jews feel unsafe in the region. Two of three admit they have had to hide their beliefs for fear of anti-Semitism, according to a recent survey by the Center for Holocaust and Minorities (HL Center). The survey revealed that there is a strong prevalence of anti-Semitism among Norway’s growing Muslim immigrant population, which has flooded Norway in the last five years. 20 percent of local Muslims and 11 percent of the general population believe that harassment and violence against Jews could be justified to some extent by the conflict in the Middle East. Additionally, 42 percent of the Muslims surveyed argued that Jews had “too much influence over the world economy,” compared with only 9 percent of the total population. The survey also found that 39 percent of Norwegians feel that Muslims pose a threat to Norwegian culture, while 31 percent shared the belief that “Muslims want to take over Europe.” There are about 700-1,200 Jews living in Norway.
“This is a full-out scandal,” said Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, after seeing human remains from an old Jewish burial ground in Siemiatycze, a small town in eastern Poland, being dug up and dumped to make way for the construction of an electrical substation and a parking lot. Schudrich was horrified that Polish officials allowed construction to continue after many bones and even a large fragment of a skull were excavated from the site, which is deemed holy according to Jewish law. Local authorities insist that the work did not take place on the grounds of the Jewish cemetery, but on already developed land that is managed by an automobile association. Schudrich, who says this is the worst desecration of a Jewish cemetery he has seen in 17 years (in Poland), refutes this claim stating that this land was part of another section of the cemetery that was not returned to the Jewish community after the fall of communism in Poland. “This is a very egregious violation of the final resting place of the Jews of this town,” Gideon Taylor, co-chair of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, said.
Poland has more than 1,000 Jewish cemeteries across Poland, but in most cases, no Jewish communities left to look after them. Prosecutors have opened an investigation.
May 30th has been established by Romanian parliament as a national day to celebrate Yiddish language and culture. They chose this particular date to commemorate the birth of Itzik Manger, a prominent Yiddish Romanian poet and playwright. Through the passing of this law, authorities are permitted to organize and take part in cultural, educational, artistic, or scientific programs and events dedicated to the promotion of the Yiddish language and theater. Romania is proud of its Yiddish culture, as evidenced by its Jewish State Theater, one of Europe’s leading institutions of its kind for the past 70 years. Before World War II, Romania had a booming Jewish population of over 700,000, but between 280,000 and 380,000 Jews were murdered or died during the Holocaust and in the territories under Romanian control, according to the Final Report of the International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania.