Dalla Musica Ebraica Sefardita al Kletzmer
In ricordo del Bar Mizvah-בר מצוה
אמאתו אלכסנדר יוסף אברהם פארפיט


Angela Yael Amato al violino ed il Gruppo Musicale Sefarad di Serrastretta

Following the Musequality World Busk Concerts in June 21-27-2012 in the Napoli Jewish Quarter from Quartiere San Lorenzo to Forcella, which included Sefardi Music performed for the first time after over 500 years by the Ensemble Musicale Giovanile, in San Gennaro All'Olmo and St. Maria delle Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco, the last appointment of the series will be in Serrastretta, Calabria a small village near Lamezia Terme, where in Nicastro, once existed an old Jewish Quarter called Timpone. Some of these families came from another village called Amato, on top of the "Serre" which in Spanish indicates mountains, and kept their Jewish names into the families, like Rcahele, Yossef, Haim, Stella etcetera. Amato, originally Amado or Habib, was a typical surname from the Iberian Peninsula. Several of these families emigrated to Rodes, Salonikka and Izmir and several of them were Chief Rabbis, and extremely observant Jews, who later also emigrated to the Americas, both in South America and the USA.

The presence of a Jewish Population in Calabria, after the expulsion time during Inquisition in South Italy, which moved a large number of Sicilian Jews in the Continent, was expected to be around 40% of the population, which gradually moved also up to Napoli, the capital of the Kingdom of South Italy. Therefore a close connection between the Sicilian, Calabrian, Neapolitan Jewish families is certain. However once in the Capital the "Sicilian" Jews also mixed with the northern Jewish immigrations which from Spain and Portugal came through Livorno, Ancona, Ferrara etcetera. The Jews from the north also emigrated from the Iberian Peninsula likewise the Sicilian Jews, but had better possibilities to settle, as often had close relationships with the local Governors and its Aristocracy who supported their trades towards the Oriental Countries. Jews from Sicily once expelled from the south lost most of their wealth. However, brought with themselves something which no one could ever take away from them: since several of these families had Rabbinical and Kabalistic traditions their strong faith imposed them to be more observant of the traditions rather than losing them. It is a fact that several of the Conversos believed that the only way forward would be to hide as Crypto-Jews rather than finding another place or risking to lose their lives and therefore extinguish themselves for ever. Many Conversos believed that one day, by keeping the Traditions from their father's, in a better time, they would come back and knew that by keeping these traditions they would still remain Jewish in their own Anusim Communities however not any-longer part of the Jewish Nation. The Anusim Tradition changed from group to group, and it is impossible to identify all of them into one kind of tradition, however, Anusim knew which Rabbinical tradition needed to be kept in order to permitted them to remain Jewish even in case they had lost the knowledge of being Jewish whereas strict family practices guaranteed this important part of remaining into the Anusim group. We may say that one particular common attitude amongst them beside the traditions is exactly having faith, everything was lost for them except this sentiment which accompanied them from generation to generation, giving them the strength to continue with their practices and love for their origins. The family traditions and costumes were so strong to make them observing the Mizvoth with love for the observance, love which in Judaism is the higher part of the observance and the one which permits to guarantee the secure transmission from generation to generation, love which was one of the major part of the education transmitted by teaching through Mizvoth-actions as for these Jews to whom it had been forbidden to have any open religious observance, all was kept into family practices, but Judaism is action therefore their observance has been valid so far and they were completely aware of this. In the other side being these Jews so deep into anything which was studying and improving their moral education, they were completely dedicated to simple life, and often suited them to live in remote mountains not only as a refugee, but also as part of their typical Mystical-Meditating Lifestyle, like their Kabbalist-Talmudist fathers who not only were father's of the main Jewish scripts, but also believed that Judaism is positive actions and love for the human world.


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I am promoting a Jewish Movement in South Italy where Jews from Sefardi origins can reconnect with their father's heritage. Not only they should come back by rediscovering these Jewish roots, but more important they should be able to recuperate them in the most similar way and close to the traditions belonged to their old families. What is very little known, is that Sefardi traditions got lost during the Inquisition but not completely, the importance to bring back to light all the traditions of the past is a relevant part of the coming back of these Jews, the Anusim. To encourage the research not only through history, but a practical research where people themself are part of it, and to give more space to know more about costumes of Christianos Nuevos, should be taken into account. To consider Anusim part of the Jewish Nation and to allow them to come back within their traditions rather than an enforced Conversion, I believe is a Mizvah. Too often these Jews have been sxcluded in certain circumstances by more resrictive, integralist Communities, or have been forced to undergo' a full conversion as if they were not counted as Jews.

It is actually sad, to think of the destiny they had to undergo' and the misfortune which occurred for a very long period of time more than 350 years, during the Inquisition. Recent studies have proved the presence of at least 40% Jews in South Italy during Inquisition times, the majority
of them being already expelled from Spain as Christianos Nuevos, where only the minority of them could flee abroad and return openly Jewish, mostly in Salonicco, Izmir, Rodi the Americas, and North Europe. The remaining ones had to opt for remain in the country and still be descendant of Christianos Nuevos, with all the traditions typical of these groups' of Jews.

Rabbi Barbara Aiello, has been working for the last ten years on a revival of Jewish life, therefore she has in 2007 opened Ner Tamid del Sud Synagogue where many Anusim and Jews from America participate. It is the first Synagogue in Calabria after 500 years and recently a Sefer Torah was brought to Sicily in Palermo, to the growing Chavoura' led by Salvo Asher Parrucca, a valid student of Rabbi Aiello who with the support of Enzo Li Calzi have given a wonderful examples of how Jewish life is coming back to Sicily.

On the 14th of July my son Alessandro Joseph Avraham will take his Bar Mizvah in Serrastretta, and it will be the first Bar Mizvah completely in Italian, with an Italian boy. His gift for Torah is wonderful, a great inspiration from above, which will make many Jews understand what is the soul inside a young person and a Jewish soul. It is so important for all of us to invest with young people like him, and hpefully many more. He will in this occasion play some Jewish music on his cello. Being myself a musician, I believe there is no better words than the ones of music. These words, the notes, can go fast above and will communicate directly to people's heart.