“Good morning, I would like to visit the Synagogue,” says a sweet lady wearing an old-fashioned patterned dress at the Milan Sinagoga Centrale (Central Synagogue) on a lazy mid-summer afternoon. “I’m sorry ma’am. For security reasons, it is not possible,” replies the attendant.
It happens often. People want to visit synagogues as they would visit churches, and they cannot. Sometimes it is possible to book a group visit, but the experience is not the same. To amend this situation, every year, all over Europe, thousands of synagogues open their doors to the public for the European Day of Jewish Culture (EDJC) on the first Sunday of September.
The EDJC was born in 1999 and has become one of the most beloved and effective means of spreading knowledge of Judaism and Jewish Culture. Every year the Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture and Heritage (AEPJ), an umbrella organization that gathers B’nai B’rith Europe, Red de Juderías de España and the European Council of Jewish Communities, selects a theme related to Jewish culture. In past years, the EDJC celebrated Art and Judaism, Jewish Festivals, Jewish Cooking and Jewish Music. For 2012, the AEPJ chose “The Spirit of Jewish Humor.”