Mishpocha-No Matter Where You Go!

Last fall, three members of my family and I went with a tour group to Italy. What a fabulous (though hectic) trip visiting ten different cities in just twelve days! And what sights we saw! The incomparable art of Michelangelo and Raphael, the ruins of Pompeii and the canals of Venice were among the highlights of the trip, but no more so than visiting synagogues in many of the cities. ?

One day in Rome, members of our group had an audience with the Pope. I’m sure it would have been an interesting experience; however, that was our last chance to visit the famous synagogue in that city - the one that had been attacked by Arab terrorists in the 80’s. The synagogue, built at the beginning of the 20th century, was heavily protected with armed guards patrolling the grounds. We were asked to show the contents of purses and packages before entering - all reminders that we Jews must still be on guard. Inside we joined an English speaking group and were given a guided tour of the magnificent structure and adjoining museum which was filled with Torah mantles, crowns, breastplates and other artifacts hundreds of years old. Daily afternoon and evening services are still conducted there even though most Jews have moved out of what once was a nearby ghetto . ?

Something I will always remember was a visit to Venice to the very first ghetto ever. Our very knowledgeable tour guide took us through three synagogues, still standing in all their glory but seldom used. Several plaques dating back to the 1600’s bearing both Italian and Hebrew names, adorned the walls of the foyer. As I lingered over one of them, a young woman approached and said something in French. I shrugged my shoulders indicating I did not understand, and she pointed to the Hebrew letters and said " ben Dovid?" Even though we were unable to communicate in our native languages, together we read the Hebrew on that plaque and all the others. As we parted, we smiled at one another as if to say "Yes, we’re part of the same family." Which made me realize how lucky I am to have mishpocha living in many placesaround the world.

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