International festival of Jewish culture
Milan’s Jewish community will celebrate a festival of Jewish culture from 13 to 16 September, an annual event prompted by the city administration and timed to be part of the European Day of Jewish Culture, celebrated in 30 countries and in over 70 towns and cities around Italy, and this year themed around Pesach.
The festival “takes on a particular role and significance this year,” said Milan mayor Giuliano Pisapia. “The theme at the centre of the debates and artistic and cultural initiatives in this 2014 edition has seized [arguments] which current events bring to our attention only too often. Pesach, or Easter, should help us to reflect because it relaunches and reinforces the path towards a new season of peace.”
And Walker Meghnagi, president of Milan’s Jewish community, added: “The festival is born out of the wish of the community to increase the opportunities for exchange with the city and with its fellow citizens, who were very enthusiastic for the festival and its issues during the first edition in 2013.”
This year’s Pesach theme will discuss the Jews’ long march from 400 years of slavery in Egypt towards freedom in the Promised Land. But that march did not bring immediate freedom: another 40 years of wandering in the desert were needed first, a voyage interpreted in Jewish tradition as necessary for winning true freedom from the past and from its slavery.
The programme includes lectures, readings, workshops, kids’ activity, concerts, show cooking, an exhibition of covers for the Haggadah (the book recounting the flight from Egypt, traditionally read out loud during Pesach) from around the world and guided visits, as well as guidance for teachers on how to present the history of the Jewish race to today’s schoolkids, and discussion on the role of women in today’s Jewish culture.
Most events are open free of charge as long as places are available; the detailed festival programme on the website indicates when an entry fee is to be charged.