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Synagogues

From: “Synagogue without Jews, and the Communities that used and built them”, by Rivka and Ben Zion Dorfmann. Almost all the Holy Arks of the Renassaince and Baroque period in Italy adopt the same solution. They may be made of marble or wood, but the style is identical, generally with upper and lower sections. In […]

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Ariel Toaff on the Cuisine of the Italian Jews

Maria and Marta in the Kitchen, Vincenzo Campi (ca. 1536-1591), Galleria Estense, Modena   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 […]

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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) Cassone Adimari, 1443–50, Giovanni di Ser Giovanni Guidi, Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence What is the status of the minhaghim with regard to liturgical music and its distribution in Jewish […]

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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 […]

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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 specific […]

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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 well 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 […]

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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 […]

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Benvenida Abravanel

Howard Tzvi Adelman from Jewish Women’s Archives Benvenida Abravanel was one of the most influential and wealthiest Jewish women of early modern Italy. Her family life, however, was wracked by strife. The sources about her life include: literary praise of her and her family, references to her in the travel diary of the messianic pretender […]

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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 […]

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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. […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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,” […]

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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 […]

The Giudecca of Ortigia

An attractive island in the Mediterranean, Sicily has been a hub of migration routes for millennia. Jews are thought to have been part of the patchwork at least as early as the 1st century, after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD. At the end of the 15th […]

Genova

Walking along Vico del Campo, a narrow road deep within this tangled ancient town, it is not unlikely to find odd, empty hollows on the facades of some sixteenth century buildings. We are in the heart of the ancient Jewish ‘ghetto’ of the ‘Lanterna’ (the old lighthouse symbol of the city). ” order_by=”sortorder” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” […]

The Jews in Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae and in the Cities of Campania Felix

Carlo Giordano, Isidoro Kahn, The Jews in Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae and in the Cities of Campania Felix. 3rd edition revised and enlarged by Laurentino García y García; translated by Wilhelmina F. Jashemski. Reprint 2003. Rome: Bardi, 2001. Reviewed by David Noy, University of Wales Lampeter This book was first published in Italian in 1966, with […]

San Nicandro Garganico

San Nicandro Garganico is a small town in the Gargano National Park dating back to the 10th century. Although there is no evidence of a historic Jewish presence here, in the late 1920’s, San Nicandro became the theater of the only case of contemporary mass conversion to Judaism. A local shoemaker called Aldo Manduzio discovered […]

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 […]