Synagogues in Naples were invited to participate in a Sabbath Liquor-Free Challenge by local anti-drinking group Mothers Against Drunk Driving Especially on Shabbos (MADDES).
The organization agreed to pay for all Sabbath meals and beverages, providing the Shuls went alcohol free.
While everyone agreed that MADDES’s catered food was outstanding, shouts of “Get Out With You” and “We Shall Overcome” could be heard throughout Naples, primarily from Jews who like to wake up early to drink and then get bombed again following their morning prayers.
The ‘Day of Rest’ irony was lost on those who arrived late. Hearing about the liquor ban for the first time at shul, a majority of the congregants became extremely anxious. The rest downright agitated.
Whereas the Sabbath is the perfect opportunity to relax and linger with friends, most worshipers chose to head straight for their homes thinking that the morning would never end.
For others it never did.
Celebrations continued as always, but with the exception of Sabbath libations.
Mr. Nusach Italki, a long-time member of Naples’ oldest Shul captured the general mood of the room: “That was the longest Bar Mitzvah speech I ever had to sit through. I mean, really! Maybe it’s just my nerves but I could barely sit through the whole thing. I’m going home to make my own l’chaim”.
After returning for evening prayers, Mr. Italki felt it necessary to clarify that while earlier he was indeed “very thirsty”, he was also very proud of his son, wishing him Mazel Tov on his Bar Mitzvah.
A spokeswoman for MADDES personally apologized to the Italki family, conceding that no one anticipated that the program developed in Venice would have been met with such resistance in Naples.
An unmoved Mr. Italki replied that “those Venetians are blind!”, and headied home with his son for a final nightcap.