Italian congregation joins Reconstructionist movement


ROME (JTA) – The Reconstructionist movement has formally approved the affiliation of an independent congregation in southern Italy.

The Sinagoga Ner Tamid del Sud in Serrastretta, a small town in Calabria, became the movement’s third congregation outside North America.

In a statement on its website, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College said the board of governors of the RRC and Jewish Reconstructionist Communities approved the affiliation at a meeting June 11.The statement said that as an affiliated congregation, “Sinagoga Ner Tamid del Sud will have access to the broad range of services and resources RRC/JRC offers to all the communities it serves. It will have a voice in shaping the movement’s decisions and policy.”

Ner Tamid del Sud was founded a dozen years ago by Pittsburgh-native rabbi Barbara Aiello in the town where her immigrant father was born. It is not recognized by the organized mainstream Italian Jewish community, which is Orthodox.

The Ner Tamid del Sud congregation includes about 80 families, many if not most are Italians who trace their ancestry to Jews forced to convert to Catholicism centuries ago. Aiello divides her time between Calabria and the United States and is described on her website as “a spokesperson for Pluralistic Judaism – a movement that deliberately blurs denominational lines and extends the hand of Jewish welcome to Jews of all backgrounds.”

Last year, a fourth-year student at the RRC held a two-month internship at Ner Tamid del Sud.

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