This past Shabbat the madrichim had the honor of learning with Sorqi Regeur. Dr. Regeur is an esteemed professor at Brooklyn College and does research on the Jews of Italy. Her husband is Italian and came with her to share at different moments in her presentation. She started by telling us that the Jews in Spain were not the only ones who needed to hide their identities as Jews in order to survive. There were also Jews in Italy who similarly hid their identities in order to survive.
Many of us found it particularly interesting when Dr. Regeur spoke about the specific traditions that withstood generations of women who were hiding their Jewish roots in Italy. One such tradition was lighting candles on Friday night in a dark corner. The was done in order to hide the light from the outside world. It was fascinating to hear how many traditions went on while family members didn’t even all know they were Jewish. Dr. Regeur concluded by talking about teaching a college course at a school in Italy. She asked her students to go home and ask their families if they knew of any Jewish roots. She said almost eighty percent of her students had some Jewish roots. Overall she was very interesting to listen to!