After 50 years, Judaica damaged in Florence flood restored, exhibited

Ruth Ellen Gruber

FLORENCE, ITALY (JTA) – A major exhibition opening this week showcases hundreds of items of Jewish cultural heritage that were salvaged from the devastating 1966 Florence flood and restored to their original condition.

The exhibit, “And the Waters Receded,” opens Thursday at Florence’s National Library. It displays hundreds of rare Jewish books, documents, archives, and Judaica items, some of them centuries old, which were damaged when the Arno River overflowed its banks on November 3-4, 1966.

“After 50 years, we have been able to recover and restore to our city a fundamental patrimony, which bears witness to the attachment of the Jewish community to tradition and to the history of Florence,” said Renzo Funaro of the Foundation for Jewish Cultural Heritage, who coordinated the initiative along with a representative of the National Library.

The exhibit is one of a number of events marking the 50th anniversary of 1966 floods, which devastated the city and seriously damaged hundreds of thousands of books, paintings and other items held in Florence’s museums, libraries, churches and private collections.

Among the Jewish material damaged were 95 Torah scrolls – only three of which could be saved; 15,000 books, only 8,000 of which could be saved, as well as hundreds of ritual objects, furnishings and textiles.

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