Rabbi Barbara Aiello
|© 2008-12 Rabbi Barbara Aiello, All rights reserved.
Synagogue Ner Tamid del Sud represents the
tenacity, courage and longevity of Italy’s
Calabrian Jews. Even though centuries of
persecution forced Jews either to convert or
practice in secret, their traditions never died.
Maybe some of us became secular (“Siamo
liaci.”) Maybe some of us remember only a very
few practices, observances or words, while
others recall only bits and pieces passed on by
our grandparents. Nonetheless our connections
with our ancestors were never completely lost.
Ner Tamid del Sud, The Eternal Light of the
South. This is our synagogue – a connection to
a heritage and a culture whose light, Ner Tamid,
though once a small and flickering flame, now
burns brightly in “del Sud,” in Calabria once
Renovated by Calabrians who have discovered their Jewish roots, Brothers Enrico and Mario
Mascaro along with their son and nephew, Alessandro worked hard painting, paneling and de-
humidifying the 400 year old structure. In addition the family created a private synagogue
entrance complete with a new iron gate which prominently features two large Magen David “Stars
of David,” as the synagogue welcomes members and guests from all over Italy to regular
Shabbaton study gatherings and festival celebrations.
In the spring of 2007 renovations began on what may have been a
Jewish prayer room, complete with the remnants of an Aron Kodesh
archway that may have been a “Beit Knesset,” a house of assembly
for a group of marranos and crypto Jews. Services were held for the
first time in June, when Tyler Waldman and his family traveled from
New York to celebrate his becoming a Bar Mitzvah.
Synagogue Ner Tamid del Sud initates Jewish culture and heritage studies with a Shabbaton study weekend.
Students from all over Italy traveled to Calabria to join Rabbi Barbara for a special weekend that included
Kabbalat Shabbat services, Saturday morning Shachrit services, a Holy Books lesson taught by dottr. Anna
Levo, a Chanukah workshop and a Sunday morning introduction to the Hebrew language.
Rabbi Barbara leads a Chanukah workshop
where students learned the meaning of the
festival and practiced lighting the
nine-branched Chanukah menorah, the
A day of study, worship and song
concluded with Havdalah, the extinguishing
of the candle which separates Shabbat and
the week to come.
Thanks to the generosity of the National
Jewish Outreach Program, students from
all over Italy began their study of the
Hebrew language, with teachers Anna
Levo, Laurie Weiss Howell and Rabbi
Ner Tamid del Sud combines the Hebrew and
the Italian languages to emphasize that the
Jewish presence that flourished in Calabria
centuries ago has returned to burn brightly in
the new millennium. “Ner Tamid” in Hebrew
means “Eternal Light,” while “del Sud” is Italian
for “of the South.” In the Torah in the Book of
Exodus (27:20) we find reference to the Ner
Tamid of ancient Temple times. A derivative of
the seven branched temple menorah, the Ner
Tamid was symbolic of God’s eternal, unbroken
and continuous presence in the lives of the
Synagogue Ner Tamid del Sud, the first
active synagogue in Calabria in 500 years,
opened its doors in 2007.
After 500 Years
Returns to Calabria
Thanks to the
Ner Tamid del
Sud has been
its very own
Synagogue Ner Tamid del Sud in Serrastretta