City view, Macerata

Macerata’s public library contains a number of documents attesting to Jewish money lending activities in the city as early as 1287.

Though today there is no longer a Jewish community, its history is well documented. Inside the Municipality building there is a Hebrew tombstone inscription dating 1553, possibly transferred there from the former Jewish cemetery in Cappuccini Vecchi. The inscription refers to the death of Rabbi Avigdor under unknown circumstances. Considering that Pope Julius III had ordered the burning of the Talmud that year, there is the hypothesis that Rabbi Avigdor might have been killed attempting to save ancient copies of the Talmud.

In Macerata, Jews had been free since 1300 to practice a variety of trades (including goldsmiths), yet they were forced to live in a ghetto called Trivium Judeorum. What remains of the former Jewish Quarter today is Vicolo Ferrari. Beginning in 1427, Jews were forced to stop work during Christian holy days. They were also forced to wear a yellow sign with an “O” on their clothes. In 1569, the Pope ordered the expulsion of the Jews. As commerce and trade in the town rapidly declined, the Jews were called back.

Requests for the establishment of a ghetto in Macerata were made in 1642 and again in 1678, both with negative results. The Jews lived undisturbed except for Lent, when the Frati Minori dell’Osservanza, known for their violent anti-Jewish sermons, instigated riots and unleashed massacres.

In 1943, forty Jews, mostly foreign born, were arrested by the Italian army in Macerata, Pollenza and Urbisaglia and deported to concentration camps. Only three of them survived.