With the holidays fast approaching, Jon and I were starting to wonder where and if we would go to services. After we Googled “synagogues in Naples, Italy” and did some research, we found that there was only ONE synagogue in Naples! Rome has more options, but driving two hours for services didn’t sound too appealing. I emailed the Rabbi, who quickly got back to me and invited us to dinner for the upcoming Friday night.
Unique Services in Every Way
The hard part was getting to the actual synagogue.
After the usual crazy drive into downtown Naples, we found a place to park. Then, we walked around the crowded cobblestone streets for at least 30 minutes, searching for the synagogue, but we couldn’t find it!
We showed people the address, and they kept pointing us in the same direction, but we just couldn’t find this place. One person told us it was in the parking garage! Just as we were about to turn around and abandon our plans, Moshe called from above and says, “Hello!” Three flights of stairs later, we found the front door.
We finally made it!
Jon and I walked into the small chapel and introduced ourselves to the other people there. Eight men and two women greeted us with open arms and were genuinely excited to meet us.
After some chit chat, we all sat down for the service. We knew beforehand that this was going to be more religious than we are used to, and that we wouldn’t get to sit next to each other during the service, which we didn’t.
It was very interesting listening to a service that was mainly in Hebrew, with the rest in Italian. They sang the tunes of the songs differently as well. We tried to keep up as much as we could, but of course had some trouble. The service only lasted an hour so we didn’t feel out of it for too long.
Sharing a Meal at the Synagogue in Naples
Afterwards, we all gathered in the kitchen for dinner. The dinner was delicious. It was a typical Italian meal minus the prosciutto, seafood, and other un-kosher stuff. After the appetizers and fish, Jon and I felt incredibly full. But wait! Enter the eggplant lasagna! You can assume an Italian Jew will push even more food on you than if they were just Italian or just Jewish. 🙂
What Jon and I really liked about the whole experience was that almost everyone there was from somewhere else. We all had a longing to be connected to Judaism, and we had sought out a place to do it. During the service, I sat next to a girl from Paris who had just moved to Naples two days prior. She was there to study abroad for the semester. Then, there was a married couple. The man was from Naples, and the woman was from New Zealand. Two other men were from Israel, and they were studying in Naples. And then of course there was us, the Americans.
Jews from all around the world, gathering in the only synagogue in Naples, Italy… it was a pretty cool scene!
Even though there were only eight of us at dinner, at any given time there were four languages being spoken (Hebrew, Italian, English, and French). And amazingly, we were all able to converse with each other smoothly!
Time Well Spent
They invited us to come back the next day for services, but we declined. But, we made plans to go there for Rosh Hashanah, so that will be enough for us!
All in all, we stayed for more than four hours and had a memorable time meeting new people!