20160418 - Trapani is the far western corner of the triangular island of Sicily

posted 18 Apr 2016, 20:12 by Lodzer Shabbat-Bulletin   [ updated 18 Apr 2016, 20:18 ]

Shabbat Shalom,

Trapani is the far western corner of the triangular island of Sicily. In a month time, I'll be bringing here one group after another, but at the moment, it's just legwork.

Here's more common ground yet to a rabbi and a tour operator; not only do both lead people, feed people, teach people, and entertain them, but also in both professions, your work must be pretty much done before the first customer shows through the door.

Palazzo della Giudecca, the "Jewish Palace", reminds us of the happy days for Sicily before the Spanish rule, the Inquisition, and of course the eventual expulsion of the Jews, as was the case throughout the lands of the Crown, in 1492.

Built originally in 1300's by a Jewish banking family, after the expulsion it fell into the hands of a Spanish noble family (they were the ones to add the tower with diamond-shaped stones behind my back).

You have to give it to those Spanish of the old; whichever colonies they managed to acquire, nobody knew better how to bring cultural, economic, and social stagnation for many years to come.

(Interestingly, when Ferdinand, together with queen Isabella, expelled the Jews, Sultan Beyazid II sent him a mocking letter of gratitude for impoverishing his own empire to enrich the Ottomans by sending over all the Jews.)

In a month time,  our determined groups will be looking for the few rare Hebrew inscriptions remaining in spite of the Spanish attempts to purge the facade. Meanwhile, all you see here is the name "Jewish Street" behind me.

The Alhambra Decree was issued on March 31, 1492. Mere weeks before Pesach. We can only imagine what that year's Seder looked like. From being forced to stay as slaves to being forced to flee as refugees and outcasts, our people seldom left others passively impartial.

Have a wonderful, blessed and abundant Pesach. Part of recognizing our fortunes, our freedom and access to all the vast resources we have, lies in remembering those who haven't. In realizing and contemplating the "what could have been".
Which is why we start our Seder with "Kol dikhfin", an invitation to all those hungry for food or warmth, to come and join our festive table.

As for me, I still have to get to our yontef group at the hotel in... well, talk to you next week.

Happy Pesach!
Rabbi Eli


                Via Giudecca, Trapani & Palazzo della Giudecca, Trapani