Tuesday, May 8, 2007

From Boker Tov to Buon Giorno!

To ease the transition from boker tov to buon giorno, I decided to visit the Venetian Ghetto as my first stop this morning. Apparently the word ghetto, formerly spelled getto, simply meant iron foundry and was the name of the island in Venice where the Jews were sequestered in the Middle Ages before Napoleon came along and knocked down the doors. Now of, course, ghetto has just one unhappy meaning.

The small area is now home to just 30 Jews (thousands of others live in different parts of Venice), Judaica shops, a Kosher bakery and restaurant (I even saw a sign for falafel - 4 euro!), the Jewish Museum, a Chabad center, a few synagogues and a yeshiva of sorts. On a tour of some of Venice's, if not Europe's, oldest synagogues, built in the 16th century and no longer in use, the droopy eyed, greasy haired and unsmiling guide rattled off dates and descriptions and indicated that he was pleased that the group did not pepper him with questions; that would have required work. Perhaps there wasn't much of a transition to be made from Israel, after all.

Wandering into a Judaica gallery, I met the friendly and business savvy Israeli owner who also has a gallery in Old Jaffa (from which Jonah set sail, landing in the belly of a large fish), where I had been a few days before. A small Jewish world, indeed. To complete my ghetto visit I snacked on a smoked salmon sandwich at the Museum's kosher cafe.

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