In the heart of the historic center of Siracusa (Island of Ortigia) Residence Hotel ” Alla Giudecca ” ( Via Alagona , 52) , in an old patrician building , hidden in its basement the most important and suggestive Miqwè ( Jewish ritual purification bath ) d ‘ Europe of the Byzantine era .
This website , the center of Jewish spiritual life , testifies to the existence of a Jewish community Syracuse among the oldest in the entire Mediterranean . The Miqwè , ritual purification bath , located 18 meters below the level of pedestrian and fed by pure spring water , is one of the only ritual baths in Europe that still retains its integrity and charm .
Sicily , after Israel , is the place where the richest cultural deposits of the Jewish tradition , dating back to the communities that have coexisted for 1500 years and interacted with our civilization .
The Jewish presence in Syracuse dating back to the first century . A.D. and in 1431 it was given them to live an entire neighborhood in the heart of Ortigia, the Giudecca . Under the reign of Ferdinand the Catholic , in 1492, was issued an edict of expulsion of the Jews, then mitigated , but all that imposed the construction concealed dei Bagni , a place where you played an important rite of purification desired by the Jewish religion.
In Christian worship , the idea of purification by immersion has become one of the key stages of redemption and, therefore, an essential part of the rite : the baptism in the Jordan, repeated symbolically , as well as representing the entrance into the Christian community is a direct loan Judaism .
In ancient times , in fact , especially in Rome , it was not difficult to find practitioners Jews baptized according to the symbolism of Galileo and you have to think that they were ” baptized ” in those bathrooms which were used to adjust the Jewish ritual purification . This union between Christianity and Judaism will fade shortly after , when Christianity became the imperial religion , but it is significant in a specific historical and cultural situation .
Mentioned that the bathroom is a Jewish ritual bath is believed to be certain both for the structure and for some parameters which fully meets : the Berakhot ( Blessings of the Treaty ), the Talmud Babli , completed in 501 AD about , writes: ” The ritual bath should contain 240 QAB water ” and its effectiveness ” is linked to the fact that it is spring water, living water , and this can not be heated .”
The bathroom of the Giudecca not only has all these features and more , but its structure and technique of construction make it an exemplary old – similar to those described in the Talmud – it is written: ” If one is down to bathe d ‘ dive … ” this means that the mikveh dug deep , as is that of the Giudecca , is one of the oldest examples , a valuable record of the remote origins of the Jewish community of Syracuse , whose construction techniques, the date of completion of the bathroom , they were even those used in Palestine until the fifth century. d. C. individually and shared with the structure of some Greek sources in 1200 . C. , but this is a very different matter.