A Jewish wedding was celebrated in the Calabria region in Southern Italy, at the site of a 1500-year-old synagogue, according to the Italian Jewish newspaper Pagine Ebraiche.
In 1985, the constructions for a new road near the village of Bova Marina unearthed the rests of an ancient settlement. According to experts, the settlement was founded in the second century, CE, and abandoned between the sixth and the seventh century.
As explained in the dedicated page of the portal Italia Judaica, by the Tel Aviv University Goldstein-Goren Diaspora Research Centre, the site included the rests of an ancient synagogue featuring mosaic floors and displayed a menorah and other Jewish symbols, such as an etrog and a shofar. Furthermore, the archaeologists identified a niche that was probably used to keep Torah scrolls, and a jug full of small value bronze coins that might have been the community’s charity offers.
The groom, Roque Pugliese, was Calabria’s representative in the board of the Jewish Community of Naples, the only official Jewish community south of Rome (Italian Jewish communities are territory based).
Several rabbis officiated at the wedding, including Rabbi Elia Richetti and Rabbi Giuseppe Momigliano, both former Presidents of the Italian Rabbinical Assembly, the Chief Rabbi of Naples Umberto Piperno, Rabbi Gadi Piperno, who leads the “Project South” within the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI) and Rabbi Ezra Raful.
Among the guests were UCEI President Noemi Di Segni, the President of Shavei Israel Michael Freund and some representatives of the local authorities.
Shavei Israel is a non-profit organization that aims to strengthen the ties between the Jewish people, the State of Israel, and the descendants of Jews around the world.
After 1500 years of a thriving Jewish presence, Jews were expelled from Southern Italy at the end of the fifteenth century, when the area was under Spanish control.
While many left, many others formally converted to Christianity and continued to practice Judaism in secret, with some of their descendants maintaining Jewish customs such as lighting candles on Friday night to this day.