How a Sicilian “Ghost Castle” Became the Synagogue of a Revived Community

In 1458, the kingdom of Sicily (which included both the island itself and a portion of southern Italy) became part of the kingdom of Aragon, which then merged with Castile to create Spain in its present form. This newly united country forcibly expelled its Jewish population in 1492, an edict that was applied to its Italian territories as well. Now, the area is seeing a Jewish revival, in part a result of the reconversion of locals who believe themselves descended from converted Jews. Joshua Marks reports on the small but growing community of Catania, Sicily’s second city:

The Comunità Ebraica di Catania opened [its] synagogue in 2022 in Castello della Leucatia (Ghost Castle), a building constructed in 1911 in the northern district of Canalicchio, which since 2001 has been home to a municipal library and auditorium. The municipality purchased the building in 1960.

According to popular legend, a wealthy Jewish merchant established the castle as a wedding gift for his daughter, Angelina Mioccios, who rejected the arranged marriage and committed suicide by jumping from its tower. The Stars of David located along the battlements of the towers appear to confirm the Jewish origins.

Read more at JNS

More about: Italian Jewry, Spanish Expulsion, Synagogues

As Hamas’s Power Collapses, Old Feuds Are Resurfacing

In May, Mahmoud Nashabat, a high-ranking military figure in the Fatah party (which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority), was gunned down in central Gaza. Nashabat was an officer in the Gaza wing of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist outfit that served as Fatah’s vanguard during the second intifada, and now sometimes collaborates with Hamas. But his killers were Hamas members, and he was one of at least 35 Palestinians murdered in Gaza in the past two months as various terrorist and criminal groups go about settling old scores, some of which date back to the 1980s. Einav Halabi writes:

Security sources familiar with the situation told the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaza is now also beleaguered by the resurgence of old conflicts. “Many people have been killed in incidents related to the first intifada in 1987, while others have died in family disputes,” they said.

The “first-intifada portfolio” in Gaza is considered complex and convoluted, as it is filled with hatred among residents who accuse others of killing relatives for various reasons, including collaboration with Israel. . . . According to reports from Gaza, there are vigorous efforts on the ground to contain these developments, but the chances of success remain unclear. Hamas, for its part, is trying to project governance and control, recently releasing several videos showcasing how its operatives brutally beat residents accused of looting.

These incidents, gruesome as they are, suggest that Hamas’s control over the territory is slipping, and it no longer holds a monopoly on violence or commands the fear necessary to keep the population in line. The murders and beatings also dimension the grim reality that would ensue if the war ends precipitously: a re-empowered Hamas setting about getting vengeance on its enemies and reimposing its reign of terror.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Fatah, Gaza War 2023, Hamas