The Reconstructionist movement is adding another affiliate abroad this week, as it welcomes into its ranks a fledging synagogue in the Italian region of Calabria - where before the synagogue’s foudning, there hadn’t been a schul in centuries.
“We are thrilled to welcome our first Italian affiliate to our movement,” Rabbi Deborah Waxman, head of the Reconstructionist movement, wrote in a statement. “Through their heroic efforts to reclaim their Jewish past from painful history, the community members of the community of Sinagoga Ner Tamid del Sud epitomizes Reconstructionist values.”
Located in Calabria, Ner Tamid is the first synagogue in the region to operate in the open since the Inquisition, when most Jews either fled or converted. Some of its members are the descendants of Jews who practiced their faith in secret or became Christian. Ner Tamid counts about 80 families in its ranks, according to the Reconstructionist movement.
Barbara Aiello, Italy’s sole woman rabbi and Ner Tamid’s spiritual leader, praised the admission into the progressive Reconstructionist movement. “As a congregation made up of [people] whose ancestors were forced into adult baptism centuries ago, we feel a particular affinity to the principles upon which Reconstructionist Judaism is based,” she said in the press statement.