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The Soncinos

The Soncino family derived its name from the town of Soncino, in the Duchy of Milan. The family traces its descent through a Moses of Fürth, who is mentioned in 1455, back to a certain Moses of Speyer, of the middle of the fourteenth century. The first of the family engaged in printing was Israel Nathan […]


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 […]


In 1516, Venice’s ruling council confined all the Jews in a small area not far from today’s train station, where there had been getti, or foundries. The gates were locked at night, and restrictions were placed on Jewish economic activities. Jews were only allowed to operate pawn shops and lend money, trade in textiles, and […]


The Jewish Community of Naples is centrally located in Via Cappella Vecchia, in the San Ferdinando district of Naples, near Piazza dei Martiri. It is the southernmost Jewish community in Italy – the only one south of Rome – with jurisdiction over the regions of Campania, Molise, Apulia, Basilicata, Calabria and Sicily. While the synagogue is […]


Between the 9th and 12th centuries, Otranto was one of the main centers of Jewish learning in Apulia. As the Jewish community prospered, thanks to commerce and entrepreneurial ventures, scholars gave lasting contributions to the study of the Bible, the Mishnah and the Talmud of Babylon. At the time of the forced conversion, under the […]


  After Pompeo’s conquest of Jerusalem in 63 AD, Jews were brought back to Italy as prisoners. They arrived in Brindisi; some remained there, but most settled in Terra d’Otranto. More arrived after the destruction of the Temple. As chronicled by Ahimaaz in the XI century, Jews from the Middle East continued to arrive in […]


The four synagogues of Trani were converted into churches during the wave of anti-Judaism that followed the fall of Apulia to the Kingdom of Naples. Three hundred of the Jews remaining in the city were forced to convert to Christianity. The four synagogues were renamed Santa Maria in Scolanova, San Leonardo Abate, San Pietro Martire, and […]


Jews had settled in Pesaro by the early 15th century. Money lending to the poor was the most conspicuous, but by no means the most important, of the many activities of Jewish bankers. Jews supplied floating capital to local artisans and merchants, as well as providing financial support to farmers in anticipation of the crops. […]


The Jewish community of Campania can perhaps be dated as far back as the Greek colonies that established themselves throughout the region, in cities including Pozzuoli, Nola, Bacoli, Marano, Capua, Herculaneum and Stabiae.  Certainly, they began to settle throughout the Mediterranean after Alexander the Great took Judaea.  Historians give the date of 70 B.C. as a […]