(by Gianluca Angelini)
FERRARA – A large building in the heart of Ferrara that hosted the city's prison until 1992 has become a museum dedicated to Jewish history and tradition. The National Museum of Italian Judaism and Shoah (Meis) focuses on the history of Italian Jews over 22 centuries.
Culture Minister Dario Franceschini and President Sergio Mattarella inaugurated the museum, whose creation was approved by Parliament in 2003 and funded by the culture ministry with 47 million euros, to narrate the over two thousand years of Jewish presence in Italy and the contribution given by this community to the country's development through a wide-ranging scientific and cultural display. The museum will be completed in 2020 with the creation of five modern buildings to recall the five books of the Torah.
Franceschini said that the museum ''is an important site because it recalls the Jewish presence in the country and will be an important place for youths, for people who know little of the millennial history of Italian Judaism. Moreover – he added – it will be an interesting place for international tourism: we presented it in New York and Jerusalem and met with great interest''.
The museum in Ferrara, created thanks to a law unanimously voted by the Lower House and Senate, the minister also said, will vie to attract students from Italy and abroad because ''investing in knowledge means offering the strongest antidote against all the risks and fears of our time''.
The museum offered the multimedia performance 'Con gli occhi degli Ebrei italiani (with the eyes of Italian Jews) for the inauguration, introducing the museum's theme and the exhibiting tour 'Jews, an Italian story. The first 1,000 years'.
The event runs through September 16 to reveal the origin of Italian Judaism and is curated by Anna Foa, Giancarlo Lacerenza and Daniele Jalla, with a setting by Gtrf from Brescia.
On display are 200 precious objects, including 20 manuscripts, 18 Medieval documents, 49 epigraphs from the Roman and Medieval ages and 1212 rings, seals, coins and amulets from all over the world including Genizah in Cairo, the National Archaeological Museum in Naples; the Vatican Museums, the Bodleian Library in Oxford, the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York and the Cambridge University Library.
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