Friday, March 29, 2013

Shavei Israel appoints emissary to discover 'hidden Jews' in Italy

Arutz 7   Rabbi Pinchas Punturello, 36, has been appointed to serve as the new emissary for the Shavei Israel organization in southern Italy and Sicily. In his new position, Rabbi Punturello will serve as the area’s chief rabbi, and will work to strengthen the local Jewish community in regions such as Puglia, Campania, Sicily, and Calabria, while also reaching out to the Bnei Anousim (whom historians refer to by the derogatory term Marranos) throughout the area, many of whom are looking to reconnect with the Jewish people.

Shavei Israel, which reaches out to communities of “hidden Jews” and helps them to reconnect with the Jewish People and State of Israel, is undertaking this project in conjunction with the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, the official umbrella organization of Italian Jewry. It marks the first time that a rabbi has been appointed to work specifically with the Bnei Anousim of southern Italy and Sicily.

“We are pleased that Rabbi Pinchas Punturello has joined the ranks of Shavei Israel. This is a direct result of the expansion of our activity throughout southern Italy in light of the growing desire of Bnei Anousim to reconnect with Jewish life,” said Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund. “In recent years, a growing number of Bnei Anousim in southern Italy have begun rediscovering their Jewish roots and expressing a desire to draw closer to Israel and the Jewish people. It is incumbent upon us to reach out to them and help them to do so,” he said.

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