Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sicily's New Synagogue

The city of Siracusa, in antiquity Sicily's most important Greek city and home to its largest Jewish community, again has a synagogue after five centuries. There is a Reform congregation in Calabria; the one in Siracusa is affiliated with the Orthodox community in Rome.

This revived community has made use of the ancient mikveh (ritual bath) in the city's Ortygia district, and a few of its "Returning Jews" are Sicilians descended from the Jews in Sicily before the expulsions and forced conversions of 1493. Tracing Sicilian Jewish genealogy is rarely simple, but in some cases these families might be described as anusim or even Crypto Jews. Labels aside, they're part of an important faith tradition that was hidden or lost for too long.

For more information visit their site, SiciliaEbraica.It.

Monday, September 5, 2011

First Rain September 2011

Last year (2010), almost to the day, it fell on September 6th - but far more substantially. This year Sicily's first real rain since late June fell tonight just around 11. Here it's shown as a drop of water on a plane tree (sycamore) leaf.

Bizarre as it may seem, this is always a quasi-mystical experience, even if it lasts for just a few minutes. Not only does the rain literally clear the air, it foreshadows a change of seasons. Of course, it'll be unbearably hot for another two or three weeks. I only wish we'd had a real shower...