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Jewish cemetery of Rožna Dolina

04 August 2024


6:00 p.m. guided tour of Jewish Gorizia by Lorenzo Drašcek; departure from the synagogue of Gorizia - via Graziadio Isaia Ascoli 19, 34170 Gorizia - and arrival at the Jewish cemetery of Rožna Dolina in Nova Gorica - Vipavska cesta 16b, 5000 Nova Gorica

7:00 p.m. "Once upon a time in Gorizia", a talk with Hans Kitzmüller, Renato Podbersič and Anja Medved in the courtyard of the former mortuary chamber of the Jewish cemetery of Rožna Dolina

8:30 p.m. refreshments provided by the organisers in the courtyard of the former mortuary chamber of the Jewish cemetery

9:30 p.m. start of the performance in the courtyard of the former mortuary chamber of the Jewish cemetery

event language: Slovenian

information: +386 30313488

thanks to: Krajevna skupnost Rožna Dolina, Lorenzo Drasček, Hans Kitzmüller, Renato Podbersič, Anja Medved

The first time was by chance, and the encounter immediately took on the features of a vision: it was spring, it was sunset, and the golden light falling obliquely on the grass and meadows enhanced the contrast of the blackish-grey memorial stones corroded by moss with bright green in the background. I remember that I arrived with the red Cinelli bike I had in my twenties, that I left it leaning against the surrounding wall and that I entered the cemetery with the foolish walk of a cyclist who has just dismounted. I remember I couldn't read Hebrew yet and that when I found myself in front of Carlo Michelstaedter's tomb I wanted to say something important but no particular idea came to me and I ended up not saying anything.

The Jewish community of Gorizia has been documented since the 16th century, but the presence of Jews in the city certainly dates back at least since medieval times. In 1698 Emperor Leopold I forced the Jews of Gorizia to live in a ghetto in the peripheral district of San Giovanni, where they already owned a cemetery. For this reason the Jewish community decided to move the holy field a first time at the end of the 17th century from the ghetto area to the lands beyond the Corno stream, along the road to Carinthia. It was moved a second time at the end of the 19th century, to the banks of the stream Vrtojbica along the road to Vienna, where it’s currently located.

In 1947 (the same year in which Cino Cinelli founded the bicycle company that brings his name) the new national border was drawn on the ground with white paint, and while the ghetto with the synagogue remained in Italian territory, the cemetery found itself in Yugoslavia. At the time this didn’t cause any stir because in the meanwhile the Jewish community of Gorizia had been completely annihilated in Auschwitz, but today, thinking about the centuries of Jewish, Semitic and Afroasiatic presence in Europe wiped out in just a few years, about the national solution given to a shoah, a catastrophe, caused precisely by the cult of the nation, being here at the Rožna Dolina cemetery in this bustle of roundabouts, overpasses, petrol pumps and Casino Royal is truly impressive... and suddenly another memory comes to me, that of an enormous black crow perched on a rusty metal sheet, croaking like a demon between the tombs of the Muslim cemetery overlooking the cliffs just south of Jaffa.


"Once upon a time in Gorizia" talk

HANS KITZMÜLLER Germanist, translator and writer. He has published a study on Christine Lavant (Braitan, 1996) and one on Peter Handke (Bollati Boringhieri, 2001). He has devoted numerous studies to Austrian Gorizia (above all Görz 1500-1915, Carinthia, 1995). He has translated into Italian Canto alla durata (Einaudi, 1995) and other texts by Handke and into German I Turcs dal Friûl by P.P. Pasolini.

RENATO PODBERSIČ Historian. He works as a researcher at the Študijski Center za Narodno Spravl in Ljubljana. Always interested in Judaism, he is among the authors of the exhibition Jews in Gorizia recently transferred from the Centre for Jewish Cultural Heritage in Maribor to the former mortuary of the Jewish cemetery in Rožna Dolina.

GIUSTINA SELVELLI Anthropologist and activist. She is a researcher at the Department of Sociology of the University of Ljubljana, where she works on ethnic minorities, ecology and nationalism in the Southeast European space. She is the author of some thirty academic articles, two monographs in English on cultural diversity in the Balkans, and the book Capire il confine (2024) published by Bottega Errante Edizioni. She collaborates with the Meridiano 13 association for which she writes popularisation articles.

ANTON ŠPACAPAN VONČINA Illustrator, sculptor, recycling performer and set designer. Publishes in magazines, covers, records, books. He has worked in set design for countless short films and films, including Zoran, My Dumb Nephew, Drevo, Babylon Sisters, Menocchio, The Wild Man, The Guiltless Man, River or Death!. He is one of the founders of the international festival Če povem 83. In 2022, he published Il figlio della lupa (Bottega Errante Edizioni) with Francesco Tomada.