The Jews of Italy

Italian history is always a difficult subject. Behind it and inside it there is the extraordinary variety of regional and urban units: the history of Florence is not the history of Pisa, or even that of Arezzo or Siena or Volterra. Where the Jews are involved, the differences in uzzaocal traditions are increased by substantial […]

Puglia: A Land of Jewish Arrivals and Departures

Fabrizio Lelli in conversation with Alessandro Cassin for Printed Matter The last Jews left Apulia in 1541. In 2001 Fabrizio Lelli arrived at the University of Lecce to teach Hebrew language and literature, in a city with no Jewish population. This year, from Sept. 6th through the 10th, Apulia will mount the NEGBA, a Festival of Jewish […]


Conversation with Rav Umberto Piperno (Scola Nova Italiana New York) Some Italian wines champion the finest artisanal tradition and offer little-known historical perspective on kashruth. Among these, the only all-kosher Italian winery, La Macie offers its exceptional Chianti “Terre di Seta” and Sentieri Ebraici distributes in New York a full line of sweet and dry […]


Seder Italian Style Audio recording of a Roman and Tripolinian Seder, commentaries, Pesach guidebook for children, transliterated Haggadah and much more available online at www.torah.it.   The Italian Haggadah (Belforte Publishers). On the occasion its bicentenary Belforte republished in anastatic copy [raised relief], one of its signature books which has been popular throughout the world: […]

Apulia’s Cuisine

In his book Mangiare alla Giudia, historian Ariel Toaff traces the origin of many traditional Apulian dishes to the presence of Jews and Muslims in the area. As with liturgical poems some of the traditions of the dispersed Apulian Jewish communities were maintained among the Jews of Corfù in Trieste and the Jews of Rome, […]

High Holidays

Rosh HaShanà and Yom Kippur Food is an essential component in the rituals of the Jewish Holiday. It is selected and prepared for its symbolic meaning, specific to each celebration. In Italy, recipes and traditions vary depending on the city, although common elements appear throughout the peninsula. The table of Rosh HaShanà, the beginning of […]

Eggplants and Egghair

The Cuisine of the Jews of Italy Ariel Toaff, Bar Ilan University The culinary history of any people is inevitably tied into its cultural identity which, born of the religious, social and economic evolution of that people, tells the complex story of its past. This is especially true of the Jews. Clearly the most significant […]

Prayer Books

Italian Machazorim Italian Machazoriim, Soncino e Casalmaggiore, 1485-86 Machazor Kol HaShanà, Rav Samuel David Luzzatto (ShaDaL) Machazor di rito italiano secondo gli usi di tutte le Comunità, curated by Rav Menachem Emanuele Artom, Roma 1998-Jerusalem 2005 Italian Siddùr curated by Rav Panzieri, 1935 Siddur di rito italiano secondo l’uso delle Comunità di Roma e di […]

The Italian Rite

Adapted by Eitan Fiorino from the introduction to the Siddur Benè Roma by Rav Riccardo Di Segni Italian Jews are under many respects an island in the Jewish world. Even the name of the land that has given them home for over twenty-two centuries was traditionally interpreted as a Hebrew word: I-tal-ya: “Island of the […]

On The Music of the Jews of Rome

Francesco Spagnolo, University of California, Berkeley The history of Jewish music in Italy is long, fascinating, and filled with contradictions. Its length is due to the very history of Italian Jewry, whose origins go back more that two thousand years. Fascination stems from the meeting of the music of the Jewish Diaspora, represented in Italy […]

Leo Levi on the Music of the Jews of Italy

Traditional Jewish Music and Italian-Jewish Liturgical Traditions Leo Levi z”l, Jerusalem, summer 1955 (Published in: “Rassegna Mensile di Israel,” Tishri 5718, Ottobre 1957, Vol. XXIII, N. 10) What is the status of the minhaghim with regard to liturgical music and its distribution in Jewish Italy today? The goal of this paper is, first and foremost, to […]

Sarra Copia Sullam

Howard Tzvi Adelman The most accomplished, and thus the least typical, Jewish woman writer of early-modern Italy was Sarra Copia Sullam (c. 1592–1641). The details of her life reveal the great opportunities and potential dangers in the life of at least one woman of wealth and talent. Sarra was one of three daughters born to […]

Prescribing Love: Italian Jewish Physicians Writing on Lovesickness

Michal Altbauer-Rudnik   “… for love is strong as death, and wrath bitter as the underworld: its coals are coals of fire; violent are its flames.” (The Song of Songs, 8:6) Although the present study focuses on the early modern period, it is worthwhile to consider how the presentation of love-related pathologies had produced a […]

Leone Da Modena’s Manuals for the Dying

Avriel Bar-Levav The structured mourning rituals of the Jews, such as the shiva with its specific demands on the mourners and their visitors, or saying kaddish, are quite known. Far less well-known is the existence of detailed rituals for people who are dying. Such rituals were created and printed in book form during the 16th […]

In Trani when they studied Talmud

In Trani when they studied Talmud. -Isiah ben Mali, one of the great Talmudic scholars of all time was born in Trani-. By Oreste Spagnuolo, Italy, Italy Magazine In 12th-century Europe, among Jewish scholars who were often held in high esteem by the monarchs, the following saying was popular, “The Law comes from Bari and […]

The Giudecca of Trani, Italy (1000–1550)

A Mediterranean Jewish Quarter and Its Architectural Legacy Mauro Bertagnin, Ilham Khuri-Makdisi, Susan Gilson Miller In: Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review During the late Middle Ages the city of Trani in southeastern Italy was home to a significant minority population of Jews. This community reached a highpoint during the thirteenth century, when under the protection […]

The Italian Genizah

Mauro Perani, University of Bologna (courtesy Morasha) English version by Simcha Shtull, Jewish Heritage Online Magazine Professor of Jewish History Muro Perani from the University of Bologna shares the recent discovery in Italy of thousands of parchment folia and bifolia dismembered from Hebrew manuscripts that were reused as bookbindings in the 16th and 17th century. […]

Edict of Ancona’s Inquisition Against The Jews

We, Fra Vicenzo Salina, of the order of Predicatori, Master in Theology, General in Ancona, Sinigaglia, Jesi, Osinio, Cingoli, Macerats, Tolentino, Loreto, Recanati, and other towns and districts. It being deemed necessary to revive the full observance of the disciplinary laws relative to the Israelites residing within our jurisdiction, and having hitherto without effect employed […]

Judaism in Puglia as a Metaphor for Mediterranean Judaism

Fabrizio Lelli, University of Salento The history of Judaism in Puglia is a distillation of thousands of stories of Mediterranean Judaism – fragments that across the millennia collectively comprise a powerful identity. Here are stories of wandering, of links sustained across great distances by faith in ancient traditions; and stories of commercial and cultural exchange […]

Jewish Women in Modern Italy

Luisa Levi D’Ancona Jewish Women Archives The history of Italian Jews in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is essentially a story of social integration and embourgeoisement, with the exception of the years of Fascism, the racial laws (1938) and World War II. In Italy, each pre-unification state had a particular relation to its Jewish population, […]

History of the Jewish Community in Trani

Francesco Lotoro The presence of a Jewish community in Puglia can be traced all the way back to the Roman Empire. The origins of the community are disputable; some maintain that the first Jews arrived in Trani after the expulsion from the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon around 1144 C.E., others argue that they had […]

Jewish Dancing Masters:The Art that left the Ghetto

Joanna G. Harris, Ph.D 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 […]

Early Jewish History in Italy

Daniel M. Friedenberg   AFTER HIS VICTORY IN THE FIRST JEWISH WAR TITUS sent back to Italy many thousands of Jewish slaves. Some went to Rome and the records also indicate a large number were shipped to the ports of Apulia (now called Puglia), the extreme southeastern region of Italy facing the Adriatic Sea. Most […]