Syracuse University Florence offers week of reflections on Holocaust
Syracuse University Florence offers week of reflections on HolocaustJanuary 24, 2007Daeya Malboeufdmking04@syr.edu
Syracuse University in Florence (SUF) is offering a week of reflections on the Holocaust, as part of the European Holocaust Memorial Day, Jan. 27, that was instituted by the European Parliament two years ago. In a resolution adopted on Jan. 27, 2005, the European Assembly called on all governments of EU member states “to reinforce the fight against anti-Semitism and racism by encouraging — notably among the young generation — more information on the Holocaust, discussing its lessons for today.”
SUF’s “Shoah: A Week of Reflections on the Holocaust” will run from Jan. 29-Feb. 2.
“The events will teach SUF students about a chapter of the Holocaust horrors little known in the United States: the fate of Jews in Fascist Italy and the importance of this for everyone in Italy today,” says Jonathan Nelson, who, along with Caterina Paolucci, serves as chair of the lecture committee and organizes the week at SUF. “The Shoah is the most significant tragedy of Europe in the 20th century, and as such we have to present it to our students so that they realize how Europe’s politics, society and culture are still influenced by it today.”
The week of reflections on the Shoah will culminate in a concert of the Klezmerata Fiorentina, featuring music of Eastern European Jews. Klezmerata Fiorentina is a new and rising group composed of four musicians at the apex of their careers (viola, base, clarinet and bassoon) who have come together under the leadership of the first viola player of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino orchestra, Igor Polesitsky, a Ukranian Jew from Kiev. The music is taken from melodies collected in Ukrania by the ethno-musicologist Moshe Beregovski between the first and second world wars. His archives have been published in part by Syracuse University Press.
Polesitsky has sought to revive and interpret the traditions of the music of Eastern European Jews as he remembers them through his grandmother when he was a child, giving a mystical meaning to the performance of music. The music reflects the notion of kavannah (attachment to God), focusing on the interior meaning of prayer, which allows one to reach a higher understanding of infinity where letters and words become pure truth.
Other events include a film screening, followed by a discussion and a lecture. The film screening is a newly restored version of one of the great classics of European cinema, “The Garden of the Finzi-Continis” by Vittorio de Sica. De Sica’s final great work represents the last golden flash of freedom before one of history’s major tragedies, chronicling the gradual disintegration of the Jewish community living in Italy at the beginning of World War II.
The film serves as a preparation for the lecture presented by Michele Sarfatti, director of the Center for Documentation of Modern Jews (CDEC) in Milan. Sarfatti is the leading international scholar on Jews in modern Italy. University of Wisconsin Press recently published the English translation of his most important book, “The Jews in Mussolini’s Italy.” In his lecture at SUF, Sarfatti will discuss the Jews in Italy in the early decades of the 20th century. In particular, Sarfatti will focus on the decision of the Fascist regime to persecute Jews, the nature of these attacks in the period from 1938-43 and the characteristics of the Fascist and Nazi persecutions in Italy from 1943-45.
“The SUF Week of Reflections is consistent with SU’s principle of diversity in its mission of teaching and learning, aspiring to a world of diversity without racism and religious defamation,” says SUF Director Barbara Deimling. “We are eager to invite and include our host culture in this dialogue.”
For more information on all SUF events, visit http://www.syr.fi.it.