17 October 2009

Italy: Jewish paper for non-Jews launched

The oldest Jewish community in the Diaspora has launched a new Jewish newspaper aimed at non-Jewish Italians.

Ruth Ellen Gruber's story at JTA detailed the background of the online version of Pagine Ebraiche (Jewish Pages) which will feature news reports, essays, commentaries, historical articles and cultural pieces. (Pagine Ebraiche)

Sponsored by the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, or UCEI, the umbrella organization that links Italy's 21 established Jewish communities, the newspaper and an online Jewish information portal launched last year are part of a multi-dimensional media offensive aimed at bolstering the Jewish voice in Italy and creating a constructive dialogue between Jews and non-Jewish Italians.

Journalist Guido Vitale, who directs the newspaper, Pagine Ebraiche (Jewish Pages), and the Web site, Moked.it, said he wants "to construct a piazza, an agora, where they can interact with each other and with Italian society."

According to Gruber's story, Italians are fascinated by things Jewish although there are only 30,000 Jews among a population of 60 million.

"There is a huge interest in Jews and Jewish culture here," said Emanuele Ascarelli, who directs “Sorgente di Vita” (“Source of Life”), a biweekly Jewish television program co-produced by UCEI and state-run RAI television that draws 200,000 to 400,000 viewers. Ascarelli estimates that 90 to 95 percent of them are not Jewish.

Non-Jews flock to Jewish-themed cultural events - festivals, food tastings, book launches and concerts - all over the country. During September's annual European Day of Jewish Culture, some 60,000 Italians (most non-Jews) attended Jewish lectures, exhibits and other events held in nearly 50 towns and cities.

The mainstream Italian media presents many Jewish-related stories. However, although interest is high, there is still widespread ignorance about Jewish beliefs, traditions and values.

The paper will be published monthly with an initial run of 30,000 and sold at selected newsstands in major cities. It will include news reports, essays, commentaries, historical articles, cultural pieces and other material.

"A minority like ours cannot only have the goal of recounting itself and its history, or only reacting to the initiatives and actions of others, be they positive or negative," said UCEI president Renzo Gattega. "Rather it must act concretely to bear witness of its values, its identity, its vitality."

Read the complete article at the link above.

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