Syracuse University in Florence exhibit examines anti-Semitism
Syracuse University in Florence exhibit examines anti-SemitismOctober 11, 2007Daeya Malboeufdmking04@syr.edu
Syracuse University in Florence (SUF) has confirmed an agreement with the Foundation for Contemporary Jewish Documentation in Milan to translate the texts (including images) for an exhibit titled “1938-1945: The Persecution of Jews in Italy,” which will be shown in the SUF Art Gallery in January 2008. The exhibit will then travel to other cities throughout Italy.
The exhibit displays the history of the persecution of Jews in Italy, starting with the emancipation and integration of Jews in united Italy in the 19th century, to the growing anti-Semitism at the beginning of the 20th century, to the first racial laws discriminating against Jews in the 1930s under Fascist rule, to the final deportations to concentration camps in the 1940s. The show is visually supported with numerous archival documents and photos demonstrating the various stages of tolerance, discrimination and persecution.
One of the first panel documents, for example, is the construction of the grand synagogue in Rome — a visible demonstration of Jewish emancipation and acceptance within Italian society in the 19th century. This stands in stark contrast to later drawings illustrating family trees of racially mixed couples, executed by the Office of Racial Demographics to establish who was considered Italian and who Jewish.
SUF advanced-Italian language students, under the guidance of instructors Francesca Bea and Elena Lucchetti, will translate most of the 38 panels from Italian to English. This exercise will be used as a background for analyzing the history of anti-Semitism in Italy from 1938-45.
Loredana Tarini, coordinator of the Italian department, is pleased with this ambitious project. “The act of translating requires a deeper analysis of the meaning of the words, and succeeds in making the students active participants in the search for their meaning,” she says. “When translating a text, one studies every nuance, every detail, and can truly internalize the significance of the text.”
However, the words and their meaning don’t stop there — the conversation group Spazio Conversazione, composed of SUF students and Italian university students, will also collaborate on some of the panels.
Similarly, three independent study projects, overseen by instructor Luisa de Muru, will revolve around the translation and study of the historical background.
Michele Sarfatti, director of the Foundation for Contemporary Jewish Documentation in Milan, is grateful to SUF and sees the collaboration as an “opportunity to diffuse knowledge and history amongst young people from different cultural backgrounds.” He also announced his intention to attend the opening of the show in January.
Barbara Deimling, SUF director, has enthusiastically promoted and supported the project. “SUF will make an important and lasting contribution to the study of Jewish history in Italy,” she says. “I am pleased to see this engagement of SUF with the host culture in such an important theme of acceptance of diversity without racism and religious defamation.”