Thursday, 22 Oct 2020 - 4 of Heshvan, 5781

Date chosen by public broadcasting company in Italy to organize a contest for journalists raises eyebrows in the Jewish community

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The date chosen by RAI, the public radio-television broadcasting company in Italy, to organize a contest for new journalists, is raising eyebrows in the Jewish community.

The 3,000 candidates have received an email telling them that the exam would take place on Saturday 10 October.

‘’This exam cannot take place because this excludes those who profess the Jewish religion. And moreover, RAI is a public body,’’ said Ricardo Pacifici, former head of the Jewish community of Rome in an interview with an Italian newspaper.

Under a law signed in 1987 between the state and the Union of Italian Jewish communities (UCEI), it is not possible to organize exams or tests neither on Saturday (Shabbat) or on Jewish holidays.

‘’October 10 is not only Shabbat but also the Jewish festival of Simhat Torah,’’ noted Pacifici.

Article 4 of the law states that the competent authorities will take into account the need to respect the sabbatical rest in setting the diary of competition tests. The following article lists the holidays to which the rest also applies. Among them,  the festival of Simhat Tora or Rejoicing with the Torah,which celebrates and marks the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings, and the beginning of a new cycle.

”I guess RAI is wrong in good faith. In the agreements between the Italian state and the Italian Jewish community, any public competition activity on Saturdays during Jewish holidays is prohibited. And RAI is certainly not private. The Board of Directors are appointed by the politicians,’’.

‘’If an observant Jew wanted to participate in that contest, knowing that it is on Saturday, it is not possible,’’ added Pacifici.

The risk exists that the contest might be cancelled in the eventuality of an appeal by an observant Jew who could not participate because of religious reasons.

Pacifici pointed out that even the latest constitutional referendums in the country have been extended on Monday, precisely to respect the Jewish New Year which fell on Saturday and Sunday.

For him, if  there are any observant Jews who are prevented from participating, RAI should redo the exam on another day.

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