The first mention of Jewish presence in Recanati dates back to 1337 and refers to the absolution of 20 citizens of Recanati, among them Gullielmutius Consilii Judeus, from any accusation of arson, theft, injuries, insults and murder, and all penalties incurred both financial and personal.
In 14th century Civil Acts, we find a mention of Guglielmuccio Consiglio, Sabbatuccio of Guglielmuccio, and Manuele di Beniamino, who, between 1336 and 1343, were engaged in moneylending activities.
In 1409, Pope Gregory XII enlisted 220 armed men led by Guelfo Rodolfo da Varano and his sons Gentilpandolfo and Berardo. Money for this enterprise was to be taken from taxes of various Jewish communities of his domains, including Recanati.
Recanati also offers an early example of cooperation between the Municipality of Sabbatuccio and the banker Gaio di Magister Aleuzio in 1425.
Thanks to the free loan and the agreement with the municipal authorities, other bankers from other centers of the Marche were given opportunities to expand their businesses.
In 1433, Sabbatuccio of Alleuzzo, for example, obtained from the duke permission to exercise lending in Urbino, creating a company with three other local Jews.
In spite of the protection granted by the Recanati authorities to the Jews, local citizens often showed adverse reactions. Catholic groups, particularly the Frati Minori, violently opposed the Jews, repeatedly attempting to impose the yellow badge, to no avail. In 1447, Pope Nicholas V forbade moneylending and ordered that money received as interest be returned. Anti-Jewish riots took place in Rome and spread rapidly elsewhere. In 1448, the community Recanati invited other Jewish communities to join forces to try to mitigate the effects of the papal provisions.
The idea was to entrust the Jews of Ancona to hold meetings for representatives and consider sending a delegation to Rome. However, the community of Ancona did not respond to the call, and the Jews of Recanati alone sustained the expenses that followed the 1447 decree.
In 1468, a Monte di Pietà (a pawnshop run by Christians) was established in the city signaling opposition to Jewish banking. However, in 1555, local Jews still owned real estate, especially in the form of land, which they relinquished before the ban imposed by Paul IV’s bull. In 1530, only two pieces of land had remained in the name of the Jewish community and were used for the cultivation of wine-grapes.
On the Day of Atonement of the year 1558, Joseph Moro, a Jew who had converted to Christianity, broke into the synagogue and placed a Christian image (a crucifix or a Madonna) in the Ark where the scrolls of the Law were kept.
Outraged, the congregants threw him out and the intruder triggered an uproar. The mob surrounded the synagogue and two Jews were arrested by the authorities and punished in public.
In 1569, Pope Pius V expelled the Jews from his states, except from Rome and Ancona. The expulsion decree was revoked by Pope Sixtus V in 1586, leading to the return of the Jews to the city, where they opened two banks. These banks stayed open until 1593, when Clement VIII restored the expulsion order.
Several 14th century sources indicate that the Jews of Recanati were active in the trades of wine, grain and oil. In the second half of the century, they would have added the production of alum (used in for the textile industry) to these occupations. In fact, Recanati Jews were also involved in the production of fabrics and dying products.
Jewish lending activities continued after the establishment of the Monte di Pietà. In 1530, the papal chamberlain granted Abramo Angelo da Imola a five-year license to keep a bank. Similar licenses followed, granted to: Emanuele Beniamino (1531 and 1535), Angeko Bencamin (1531), Benedetto Reguardato ( 1531), Dattilo and Isaac Oziel (Uziello) and Raffaele di Lazzaro (1533), Gabriele and Laudadeo di Isacco (1534), Abramo di Angelo Sandolo (1535), Angelo di Beniamino (1536), Abramo di Brunecte (1539), Abramo di Amadeo (1540) and Uziello di Dattilo (1543).
Between 1360 and 1370, about thirty Jewish households are recorded in Recanati and about 20 individuals appear in the notary public to conduct banking business in the city.
Scholars and rabbis
In 1517, Yitzhaq of Gayyim Abraham ha-Kohen, author of several important works, including the exegesis on the Song of Songs, the Lamentations and the “Sayings of the Fathers” resided in Recanati for some time. In the 16th century, local rabbis included Refael Finzi di Recanati, Ya’aqov di Refael Finzi and Petahiah Jare; all authors of responsa and manuscripts.
The first synagogue was located in the episcopate, but was closed after the establishment of the ghetto. In 1539, there is evidence of a request for the construction of a new Synagogue near Porta Marina, but permission was not granted.
The Ghetto extended from what is now Piazzale Bianchi toward Via Vitali. The Synagogue, no longer standing, was probably housed in a building in Via Achilla, 1.
The cemetery is located in the Campo dei Fiori, beneath the Cathedral of St. Flaviano, today bordering Villa Colloredo’s park. In the diocesan museum, there is a walled plaque with Hebrew inscriptions.
Not far from the town of Recanati is Montelupone, where no traces of Jewish presence remain, although it is known that Jews flourished there in the 1500’s.
Source: Italia Judaica