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Yael Amato with her colleagues Gennaro Vanacore, Roberta Paturzo and the Ensamble Musicale Giovanile in the old Napoli Jewish Quarter.

At the San Gennaro All’Olmo-Fondazione G. Battista Vico and Santa Maria delle Anime del Purgatorio-Fondazione Opere Pie-Napoli-Italy

It existed a flourished Jewish Community in the old Napoli town in Italy, we are in the south of the boot and over 500 years ago’ a flourished Sefardi Community was an important part of the town population. The “Giudecca” was formed from an older and a newer area from Forcella to Quertiere San Lorenzo, from Via Limoncello to Spogliamorti passing from San Marcellino, it all was once a Jewish Quarter which finally was put to an end during Inquisition time, when most of these Jews who came mainly from Spain, were again expelled also from the Kingdom of South Italy, and Naples was its Capital at the time. The Sefardim had high education and many of the families had Rabbinical and Kabalistic traditions which from brought to Spain and to Italy. They were called also Spaniards-Spagnoli in Italian. We would be surprised to know how much of these Sefardi traditions is still alive nowdays and the Naples’ Old Giudecca is full of these examples, as well as all South Italy, but often it is not known from where these traditions came from and is called “Folklore” instead. This Folklore however was the remaining of once a very observant Community who was forced to abandon the religion but did all efforts to hide the meaning of the religious observance by keeping them into family traditions, where often when shared within the Community ( still remaining as Conversos ) where looked as simple Folklore and not pointed as Jewish Traditions or Observance. Many Conversos Communities are still alive in the surrounding of Naples, where Jews who could not flee in other Countries, often not wealthy enough to chose this option, went to Rode, Salonikka, Izmir and the Americas, or North Europe, and therefore had the possibility to remain openly Jewish. To assume that Conversos are not Jewish is rather common, but a group of these the Anusim, who had intentionally kept all the most important Rabbinical Traditions did this intentionally as they knew that this way the door would be opened, they were conscious to remain Jews however forced to be no-longer part of the Jewish Nation. Many of these were also Spanish-Portuguese, the Sefardi which from Spain went to Portugal and later emigrated to Italy.

Miracles still come live now days as in the Giudecca, Napoli centre, in occasion of the Festa Europea della Musica and Musequality World Busk 2012 june 21-27, the Ensemble Musicale Giovanile, lead by violinist Angela Yael Amato and her colleagues Gennaro Vanacore flute and Roberta Paturzo guitar, were engaged in a series of concerts for the first time after over 500 years where the Sefardi Music was brought back to the old Jewish Area. The two main locations where S. Gennaro all’Olmo, in Via S. Gregorio Armeno and Santa Maria del Purgatorio ad Arco in Via Tribunali. The first venue has all the aspect of a former small Synagogue which likewise many others became Churches. We should not forget that the Jewish presence in the area started much earlier than the Inquisition times and that from Nocera to Napoli several Communities had a flourished period where they remained until the Christian enforcement, obliged them ether to leave or to hide.

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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.