Historical Figures

Pesaro occupies an important position in the history of Hebrew publishing. Abraham b. Ḥayyim “the Dyer” worked in Pesaro before moving to Ferrara in 1477. In 1507, Gershom Soncino opened a printing house in Pesaro and worked there with limited interruption until 1520. He produced, besides books in Italian and Latin, an impressive range of classical Hebrew texts: some 20 Talmud treatises, a complete Bible (1511–17), Pentateuch or Bible commentaries by Baḥya (re-printed three times), by Moses b. Naḥman (Naḥmanides), Levi b. Gershom, David Kimḥi, Isaac Abrabanel, as well as an edition of Nathan b. Jehiel’s Sefer Arukh (1517). Some of these works appear as published by the “Sons of Soncino.”

Guglielmo da Pesaro (see article in Books & Essays)

Guglielmo Ebreo da Pesaro, Liber Ballorum (1460),

Jewish Dancing Masters: The Art that Left the Ghetto by Joanna G. Harris
Jews were known to be merchants, musicians and physicians in the 15th and 16th centuries. That is well documented in the various histories of Jewish Venice. But dancing masters? To the lay person, it seems extraordinary that an irrelevant art form would be the provenance of “people of the book”, expected to be cultured, educated, worldly and wise. Yet, an early treatise by Otto Kinkeldey details the teaching of Guglielmo Ebreo, a Jewish Dancing Master of the Renaissance and Barbara Sparti has continued the research in “Maestri did danza ebrei nel Rinasciemento italiano.”

Otto Kinkeldey’s study “A Jewish Dancing Master of the Renaissance”, recounts that Gugliemo Ebreo, a Jew from Pesaro, taught court dances; dances whose steps and attributes later become the basis of classical ballet technique and vocabulary. Gugliemo (circa mid 15th century), the Jewish Dancing Master who, along with the composer Salomone Rossi, ‘proclaimed their race, ” contributed a treatise (1463) which is proof that the “courtly art of dancing was assiduously cultivated in the circles that gathered round the Tuscan and Lombard princesses.” 

In the late 18th Century, Salvatore della Ripa became prominent among the new entrepreneurial class. He was a successful, merchant, banker, and communal leader. Sara Levi Nathan of Pesaro hosted Giuseppe Mazzini and other Italian expatriates at her London home. As Jews, they both lived important moments of the unification process of the 19th and 20th centuries. Sara Levi was born in 1819 and died in 1882, while Amelia Pincherle lived from 1870 to 1954. The names of their families are connected; Sara Levi was part of the Rosselli family on her mother’s side and married Moses Nathan, a German who later became a British citizen. Amelia Pincherle Moravia, sister of Carlo Moravia, the father of the famous author Alberto, belonged to a rich Jewish family who had supported the Republic of Venice against the Austrian Empire; she married Joe Rosselli, nephew of Sara Levi, and gave birth to three sons: Aldo, Nello and Carlo. Carlo Rosselli founded the anti-Fascist movement (Read More) in 1929.

Sara’s political activism was an example for her twelve children, all of which remarkably survived, as Calloni pointed out, considering the infant death rate of the century. Sara brought up her children with the earnings of the Minerary Establishment of Siele, near Mount Amiata, in Tuscany. Investing in the mine was a great intuition, demonstrating an uncommon entrepreneurship. Together with aiding the family, the economic stability helped finance charity work and political campaigns of the Risorgimento. A true patriot, she supported (Read More) Mazzini during his exile in London, Lugano and Pisa, playing a key role in the (Read More) Partito d’Azione. It was in her house in Pisa that Mazzini died, under the pseudonym Mr. Brown. Accused of conspiracy, she was forced to seek refuge in Lugano and returned to Italy and Rome only at the end of the unification process in 1871. Her children also made themselves known for their political commitment. The fifth-born Ernesto became mayor of Rome in 1907; it was the first time a Jewish Republican, an opponent of the Pope’s policies, was elected in a city still quite faithful to the idea of the Pontificial State. (I-Italy on Women of the Risorgimento)

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