Years ago, UCLA visiting professor Luisa Del Giudice discovered she was more interested in the way ordinary people remembered their past than the way writers and academics recorded formal history.
In pursuit of that interest, she founded the Italian Oral History Institute (IOHI), a project dedicated to documenting the groups typically unacknowledged in Italian life and history. This year, the IOHI presents "Italian Jews: Memory, Music, Celebration," a far-ranging survey of Italian Jewish life including music, food, cinema, history and language. The Jewish presence -- and now absence -- in the Italian landscape, in the small towns and large cities, inspires a new generation of both Italian and American scholars.
From Oct. 24 to Nov. 8, the Skirball Cultural Center, UCLA, Cal State Northridge, the Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel and the Istituto Italiano di Cultura will offer seminars, symposia, round-table discussions, movies, song and food.
Thursday, Oct. 25, Cantor-Rabbi Elia Richetti comes all the way from Venice, Italy, to perform "Music of Italian Jews: Hazanut from the Italian Tradition" at Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel. Before the one-night concert, Francesco Spagnolo, director of Yuval Italia, the Italian Center for the Study of Jewish Music in Milan, will lecture on "Feeling Italian and Singing the Bible: National and Jewish Identity in the Music of the Italian Jews."
Many of the presenters are from Los Angeles. Evan Kleiman, the chef and owner of Angeli Café, will moderate a discussion and host a lunch of Italian Jewish foods on Sunday, Oct. 28. Judy Zeidler, writer and restaurateur; Steve Siporin, ethnographer of Italian Jewish folk culture from Utah State University; and Joyce Goldstein, author of Cucina Ebraica, will explore -- and eat -- a variety of Italian Jewish foods. (Preregistration required). An International Symposium will open on Monday, Oct. 29 at UCLA. The first in a series of speakers that day will be Alessandro Portelli, recipient of the Viareggio Prize for his work on the oral history of the Fosse Adreatine massacre, toward the end of the German occupation of Italy.
For more information on "Italian Jews: Memory, Music, Celebration, " contact the IOHI (310) 474-1698 or www.iohi.org .