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The Mystery of San Nicandro, a film by executive producer Vanessa Dylyn, is based on a book by Professor John Davis about a group of Italian Roman Catholics in a small village. The group underwent a mass conversion to Judaism in fascist Italy, and over a period of 20 years of observing Jewish practices, they left Italy and emigrated to the new state of Israel in 1949.
In the making of the film, the producer discovered a bigger story — that of the powerful revival of Judaism in Southern Italy. About 10 years ago, Rabbi Barbara Aiello, Italy’s first female rabbi, opened the first synagogue in Serrastreta, Italy in 500 years. She serves the new communities of Jewish presence in Calabria and Sicily, and more recently Pugalia and Sardinia, all areas with an ancient Jewish population before the Spanish Inquisition forced Jews to flee.
The spirit that called the converts of San Nicandro back to Judaism has also been stirring in North America, where many people of Italian origin are discovering links to a Jewish past.
Date: Sunday, April 2, 2017
Time: 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 7:15 p.m.)
Location: Lodzer Centre, 12 Heaton St. (Bathurst & Sheppard), Toronto
Admission: $10.00 per adult, $5.00 for students