Reprinted from Jewish News Syndicate
For the first time in over 1,500 years, the ruins of a synagogue dating back to the 4th century in the Calabria area of southern Italy have hosted a Jewish wedding.
Roque Pugliese and Ivana Pezzoli, both of whom are descendants of Iberian Jews forcibly converted during the 14th and 15th centuries, were married on June 4 in an emotional and historic ce¬remony at the site of the second-oldest synagogue ever found
Pugliese’s parents hid their Jewish roots while he grew up in Calabria and Argentina. Upon discovering his heritage, Pugliese decided to formally return to Judaism with assistance from the Shavei Israel organization.
While Pezzoli was raised with certain Jewish traditions in her family, she was never told why. Upon researching her family history, she found that she had Jewish roots and embarked on an extensive study of Judaism for more than eight years before undergoing formal conversion.
Pugliese and Pezzoli, both of whom are medics and met while working at a local hospital, are now living religiously observant Jewish lives.
The wedding took place in the archaeological park adjacent to the southern Italian seaside village of Bova Marina, where the remains of a synagogue were unearthed in 1983 during the construction of a road.
Among the items discovered were a mosaic floor with colorful tiles portraying images of a Menorah, a shofar, and a lulav and etrog, as well as a walled niche where the Aron Kodesh, or Holy Ark which contained Torah scrolls, once stood. The ruins face directly towards Jerusalem.
Pugliese and Pezzoli chose the site for their traditional Jewish wedding as a tribute to their ancestors. IAH