The President of the AEPJ – European Association for the Enhancement and Preservation of Jewish Heritage – François Moyse together with Claudia de Benedetti, Assumpció Hosta and Annie Sacerdoti, representatives of the organisation’s Board of Directors, significantly placed a plaque in front of one of the oldest mikveh, ritual baths, in Sicily in Syracuse this morning, 20 October.
“Today, the AEPJ is proud to unveil a plaque in a very special place”, said Francois Moyse, “and our thanks go to Amalia Danielle di Bagni for preserving and looking after this treasure. This mikveh is testimony to the historical presence of Jews on the island of Ortigia. Syracuse was one of the first cities in eastern Sicily to welcome Jews. But, sadly, it was also the city that expelled them in late 1492 because of the Spanish Inquisition.”
In recent years, the AEPJ has placed four plaques in Europe at places of relevant importance to Judaism. As in Italy (in 2016, in the Jewish Museum in Venice, on the occasion of the ceremonies of the 500th anniversary of the creation of the Venetian ghetto) in Lithuania and in Luxembourg.
For more than 20 years, the AEPJ has been promoting the European Days of Jewish Culture, allowing an ever-widening public to discover Jewish places such as synagogues, cemeteries, monuments, Judaica, museums, ritual baths, and buildings that are the pride of local history. Jewels of common national architecture, they have become examples of the integration of a minority into society and united in the knowledge of cities and countries across Europe, places to be proudly displayed to visitors, spaces of intercultural learning and interreligious discovery, agoras of cultural celebration.
Thanks to the cooperation with the Council of Europe and its European Institute of Cultural Routes the AEPJ obtained in 2004 the certification by the General Secretariat of the Council of Europe with which the European Routes of Jewish Heritage were officially recognised.
The activities of the AEPJ have also developed over the years with tours, concerts, Jewish cuisine tastings, theatre performances, and exhibitions. In Syracuse this afternoon, to seal a day of great cultural significance for the history of Sicilian Judaism, a conference entitled “Giudecca another discovery. The human, social, political fabric”.
“Dear guests,” concluded Francois Moyse, “let’s unite our efforts in safeguarding this unique treasure, this heritage that is Jewish but belongs to all inhabitants, to the island: this is what we owe and what we want to pass on to the next generations.”