ROME (JTA) — In an unusual and highly symbolic move, the city of Turin has formally returned to the local Jewish community an ornate Torah ark.
The Jewish community had presented the ark to the city more than a century ago.
"This is recognition of the role Jews play in society," Turin Jewish community President Tullio Levi said at a ceremony Sunday night.
The gilded and intricately carved wooden cabinet, probably dating from the early 18th century, is the oldest example of furnishings from the synagogues that once stood in Turin’s Jewish ghetto, which was established in 1679.
After Jews in the city were emancipated in 1848, they built a large new synagogue, still in use today. When that building was inaugurated, in 1884, the community donated the ark to the city as a sign of recognition and good faith in public institutions following emancipation and the formation of the united Italian state.