Italian City to Build First Synagogue in Over 500 Years
JNS.org — Palermo, Italy will finally rebuild its synagogue, 524 years after its previous one was destroyed during the expulsion of Sicilian Jewry.
In a ceremony Thursday at the Historical Archives of Palermo, located on the ruins of the ancient Great Synagogue, the local archbishop announced that the site — seized in 1493 by the Roman Catholic Church to build a monastery — will be returned to the Jewish community, which plans to erect a new building nearby.
Palermo has seen little to no Jewish activity since the expulsion.
The announcement comes in response to a request from the Sicilian Institute for Jewish Studies and Shavei Israel, a group dedicated to helping “lost” Jews worldwide reclaim their roots and re-embrace Judaism. The ceremony was attended by hundreds of descendants of “anusim,” Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity during periods of European persecution but continued to practice Judaism in secret.