After shabbat Aida, Teta and Ronnie went to pay the Florida restaurant for all the goodies we had on shabbat and do some more shopping for baby Aida at the fancy il Gufo across the street. We woke up this morning and packed up going on our way to Rome ( a 3 hour drive). The drive was fun- we reviews our trip and discussed old roman times.... Emma and Aida got nauseous but only Emma threw up. Aida was pretty intolerant of her sisters and even Teta when she started to talk about her lemon to which Aida responded "enough with the lemon already!" ( she bought a delicious smelling lemon from the supermarket the size of a melon that smelled delicious and she kept cutting pieces off of to put in hot water and saying how it must be from Capri.)
When we got to the hotel we were apprehensive about everything as usual. We found a tiny parking spot right outside on a cobblestone street. The hotel looked tiny and the bellman looked kind of annoyed when he realized I was planning on unloading all the bags from our trunk into the tiny hotel. It was old and Roman looking but very pretty. We piled into yet another tiny elevator and through the tiny Roman detailed hallways to our room. It was actually very cute- pretty and clean with roman decor. Our view was of some interesting looking archeological site- we haven't figured out which yet.
Next we went on a wild goose chase / treasure hunt to find the Jewish ghetto through the streets of Rome. Hannah was our navigator with google maps and aside from almost getting sideswiped by a few cars in the narrow streets and Emma nagging that she is nauseous we made it alive. We were shocked to see hundreds of people in the Jewish ghetto- much bigger than the one in Venice and enough restaurants to match! We passed one after another trying to figure out which one to try. Olivia spotted sushi!!! I grabbed a quick take out vegetable sushi and brought it to the dairy restaurant we sat at- milky kosher."
We ordered way too much food but somehow wiped our plates clean! Gnocchi, lasagne, grilled radicchio with Parmesan shavings, fettuccini with 4 cheeses....
Next we met our your guide Sara in front if the great synagogue of Rome. She taught us about the roman Jewish ghetto that the pope forced the Jews to live in by the river( the worst part of town because of flooding) in the 1500s. The Jews were only allowed two professions: money lending ( because sinners do that anyway and textiles. During that time the pope built five churches around the ghetto that the Jews were required to go to once a week to listen to sermons in piazza delle cinque scole ( five churches). She taught us about the hospital across the river that was important for two reasons- during WWII a non Jewish doctor saved 40 Jewish lives by hiding them in a ward and telling the nazis they shouldn't go in because they would be infected with some crazy (made up) disease. The second was in the 1990s when there was a terrorist attack and many people were injured. They were able to carry the injured immediately to the hospital across the street and save their lives ( accept one two year old boy who died).
On one of the five churches outside of the ghetto the is written a Pasuk from yeshayahu saying"our arms are opened to welcome you in, to you nation of rebellious people that go in an incorrect path, after your own thoughts and ways, a nation that angers my face every day." God says this to the Jews but the church used it to reference their own agenda and would kidnap the children of the ghetto, baptize them during the day and go steal them at night to convert them. About 20 percent ended up converted. Next we went to the Jewish museum where Sara grew up and showed us all the Aron kodesh from the 15 hundreds that they moved to the shul and she used to play the Italian version of red light green light with as a kid! Not knowing the significance! Also an Aron she used to pretend was a queens chair and sat on! We also saw the "shmatas" the woman of the community would make into beautiful parochets and the room I'm and Torah covers families donated with a picture representing their family name. They lived in very tight quarters, a few families in one apartment on top each other so the synagogues were the "living room" of the families. There were 5 different synagogues hidden in homes each with a different way of prayer (Italian, Sicilian etc...) the community spoke a Roman Jewish language like Yiddish was a mix of German and Hebrew this was a mix of Hebrew and Italian so that the Italians wouldn't understand them.... She showed us the difference of the cramped ghetto apartments next to the normal ones when the pope extended the ghetto closer to the 1800's. Today it is not a ghetto but a piazza where the old and young gather and socialize- an artist recently sculpted figures of the locals who hang out there - and Sara introduced us to one in the picture- her uncle! We asked her about the Jewish schools - there are about 1,000 elementary school students in the local one and a little less than that of high school students. She said she is extremely traditional and eats kosher but isn't necessarily Shomer shabbat but very much wants to continue her Jewish Italian traditions and wants to marry a Jew. Teta of course suggested "the Sushi guy" who she introduced us to earlier who is her friend and just opened the restaurant today! She said no- she needs butterflies and he's just a friend but Olivia and Teta were persistent and continued to suggest that she marry him! Emma, Aida and Hannah were appalled that we would get into her personal business like that! She didn't mind though- we took her email to set her up just in case!
Sara showed us the square where the Nazis rounded up the first Jews in October 1943. They took 1000 people and only 10 came back. Her grandfather was one who was hiding and a local his him and another local told on him. He was taken to Aushwitz in the second round up but survived and today lives right here. Her grandmother was able to run away fast when a cousin shouted to her to leave from the street and because she was so poor she just ran and got away. She hid in a convent of nuns who let her because they hoped to convert her. We saw the turtle fountain that the famous sculpture Bernini added turtles to later on ( it was originally by someone else) to represent that the Jews always travel from place to place with their homes on their backs. We also saw gold street tiles that have the names of those who were taken from their homes in the holocaust on the floor in front of them.
We visited the great synagogue that was built on the 1800s after the emancipation to celebrate their freedom from the ghetto. It was built by an Italian architect in the shape of a Greek cross- equal on all sides. Instead of a dome like a church the roof is a square. It was not damaged in the holicaust because the pope coincidently declared it a national monument years before so it was locked and not able to be destroyed. The nazis did steal many torot and other sacred books but many were hidden and saved. After the tour we bought some kosher gelato and took a walk over the bridge into trastevere where we took in some more sights of Rome. We tried to use some energy and get hungry again for dinner and walked down a huge flight of shallow stairs to a market and then back up. We made it back to the Jewish " piazza" and ate at a restaurant Sara recommended called Bella carne. The cold cut plate was amazing and even though we were stuffed we all managed to eat a full dinner of steak, ravioli, chicken soup, burgers, shish kabob and chicken wings!!!( we even ordered dessert!) we walked back to the hotel passed a bunch if cool very old ruins that we didn't have time to learn about and some insanely fascinating buildings that are masterpieces of Roman architecture. We are getting into bed now ready for our last day ( as unfortunately our Israel flights were canceled because of the war zone) of Rome and vacation tomorrow. We are touring the Vatican and the coliseum which should be fun! Buenos Are!