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Italian Jewish History 200 BCE -

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  • Carlo Raimondo Michelstaedter (1887 - 1910)
    Carlo Michelstaedter or Michelstädter (3 June 1887 – 17 October 1910) was an Italian philosopher, artist, and man of letters. scrittore, filosofo e letterato goriziano.
  • Abramo / Abraham Vita Hai Morpurgo (1813 - 1867)
    "Corriere Israelitico", Italian magazine devoted to Jewish history an literature (founded at Trieste in 1862 by A.V. Morpurgo); published from 1862 to 1915 in Trieste. ________________________Fondatore...
  • R. Judah Aryeh (Leon) Modena (1571 - 1648)
    Leon Judah Aryeh of Modena , an Italian scholar, rabbi, and poet; son of Isaac of Modena and Diana Rachel; born April 23, 1571, at Venice; died there March 24, 1648. He was a descendant of a prominent ...
  • Primo Levi (1919 - 1987)
    The International Primo Levi Studies Center Turin* Primo Levi Center New York Primo Michele Levi (I31 July 1919 – 11 April 1987) was an Italian Jewish chemist and writer. He was the author of several b...
  • John Baptista (c.1600 - aft.1667)
    Perhaps the same person as John Baptista . John Baptista , an Italian physician and apothecary living in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was probably a converted Jew.He might have been father or brother of Reb...

History of Jews in Italy

Italy contains some of the oldest Jewish Communities in Europe.

Italian Jewish Genealogy

Jewish Heraldry

  • • Jewish Heraldry, with some Italian references.
  • • The Jerusalem Italian Jews Association

Other Links

  • The European University Page has a website (in English) full of texts, links, and maps on history of Italy.


  • Rita Levi-Montalcini, neurologist, Nobel Prize (1986)
  • Salvador Luria, microbiologist, Nobel Prize (1969)
  • Franco Modigliani, economist, Nobel Prize (1985)
  • Emilio Segrè, physicist, Nobel Prize (1959)
  • Emilio Artom, mathematician
  • Eugenio Calabi, mathematician
  • Guido Castelnuovo, mathematician
  • Federigo Enriques, mathematician
  • Gino Fano, mathematician
  • Guido Fubini, mathematician
  • Beppo Levi, mathematician
  • Tullio Levi-Civita, mathematician
  • Beniamino Segre, mathematician
  • Corrado Segre, mathematician
  • Vito Volterra, mathematician
  • Andrew Viterbi, inventor of the Viterbi algorithm
  • Mosé Bonavoglia de' Medici, or Bonavoglio de' Medici, (d. 1447). Sicilian physician from Messina and Dienchelele (Naggid or Dayan kelali = Universal Judge of Sicilian Jews). His Hebrew name was Moses Hefez.
  • Faraj ben Salim, Sicilian physician and translator from Agrigento
  • Michele Besso, engineer
  • Caecilius of Calacte, Sicilian rhetorician from modern Caronìa
  • Dario Calimani, Anglicist
  • Laura Capón, physicist; married to non-Jew Enrico Fermi
  • Alessandro D'Ancona, literature
  • Robert Fano, physicist
  • Ugo Fano, physicist
  • Carlo Ginzburg, historian
  • Giovanni Jona-Lasinio, physicist (Jewish father)
  • Ezio Levi D'Ancona, philologist
  • Mirella Levi D'Ancona, art historian
  • Giorgio Levi della Vida
  • Cesare Lombroso, criminologist
  • Samuel David Luzzatto, scholar and poet
  • Arnaldo Momigliano, Italian-born historian
  • Bruno Pontecorvo, physicist
  • Guido Pontecorvo, geneticist
  • Giulio Racah, physicist
  • Bruno Rossi, astrophysicist
  • Asher Salah, Historian
  • Cesare Segre, linguistics, semiotics
  • ▪ pedigree of Sforno
  • Piero Sraffa, economist
  • Ariel Toaff, Historian

Religious Leaders

  • Samuel Aboab, prominent rabbi
  • Aaron ben Gershon Abu Al-Rabi or Aronne Abulrabi of Catania (1400–1450), rabbinic scholar, cabalist and astrologer.Called also Aldabi or Alrabi, Aaron was the First Jew in the history to be invited during a Pontificate to discuss freely and without censorship about religious subjects and papal perplexities.The Pope Martin V with his swarm of Cardinals welcomed him in Rome.
  • Shabsai Donolo, Rabbi (913 - 983 CE ) wrote commentary to Sefer Yetzirah on astrology - "Chachmuni" cited by Rashi (Eruvin 56a)
  • R' Klonimos ben Moshe from Lucca. 10th cet. Talmudist, Halachist. Scion of the eighth century famous Klonimos clan.
  • R' Meshullam ben Kolimos of Lucca. ( c950 - c1020 ) Talmudist, Halachist, Liturgist. He was called R' Meshullam the Great.
  • R' Eliyahu ben Shemaya, Bari, Italy Talmudist, Paytan.
  • Barbara Aiello, American rabbi with an interest in Italy
  • Benjamin Artom, Haham of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews of Great Britain
  • Umberto Cassuto, rabbi
  • Abraham Isaac Castello, Rabbi
  • Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, Rabbi, scholar, mystic, also known as RAMCHAL
  • Amos Luzzatto, writer and former president of the Italian Jewish Communities Union
  • Raphael Meldola, Rabbi
  • David Nieto, rabbi, philosopher, physician, poet, mathematician, astronomer, and theologian.
  • Riccardo Pacifici, Rabbi
  • Obadiah ben Jacob Sforno, Rabbi, philosopher
  • Elio Toaff, Rabbi and former Chief of Italian Jews Community
  • Samuel David Luzzatto important Rabbi and scholar, also known as SHADAL
  • Isaiah di Trani, HaZaken. Talmudist, Rabbi, RID c ( 1180 - 1260 ) Tosafist, Halachist, Teacher.
  • Isaiah ben Eliyahu di Trani (RIAZ) c (1235 - 1300) Halachist and grandson of RID.

Political figures

  • ▪ Emanuele Fiano, politician
  • ▪ Vittorio Foa, socialist trade unionist
  • ▪ Sansone D'Ancona, Senator
  • ▪ Alessandro D'Ancona, 1904 Senator and 1906 mayor of Pisa
  • ▪ Anna Kuliscioff, revolutionary feminist
  • ▪ Rita Levi-Montalcini, scientist and Senator
  • ▪ Luigi Luzzatti, Italian Prime Minister (1910–1911)
  • ▪ Ernesto Nathan, mayor of Rome (1907–1913)
  • ▪ Margherita Sarfatti, journalist & mistress of Benito Mussolini
  • ▪ Claudio Treves, politician and writer, grandfather of Carlo Levi
  • ▪ Leone Wollemborg, politician and former Minister of Economy


  • ▪ Mario Ancona, baritone
  • ▪ Abramo Basevi, composer and musician
  • ▪ Alvise Bassano, musician
  • ▪ Anthony Bassano, musician
  • ▪ Baptista Bassano, musician
  • ▪ Jeronimo Bassano, musician
  • ▪ Haim Cipriani, violinist and reform rabbi
  • ▪ Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, guitar,classical and synagogal music composer
  • ▪ Giacobbe Cervetto, cellist
  • ▪ Lorenzo Da Ponte (b. Emanuele Conegliano), opera librettist (born Jewish, raised Catholic)
  • ▪ Abramino dall'Arpa, harpist
  • ▪ Aldo Finzi, composer
  • ▪ Salamone Rossi, baroque composer
  • ▪ Victor de Sabata, conductor (Jewish mother)
  • ▪ Leone Sinigaglia, composer
  • ▪ Obadiah the Proselyte (musician)


  • ▪ Enrico Castelnuovo, father of Guido
  • ▪ Giorgio Bassani, author
  • ▪ Angela Bianchini, fiction writer
  • ▪ Riccardo Calimani, fiction writer and historian
  • ▪ Lorenzo Da Ponte (b. Emanuele Conegliano), opera librettist (born Jewish, raised Catholic)
  • ▪ Leonardo de Benedetti, physician and writer
  • ▪ Manuela Dviri, writer
  • ▪ Alain Elkann, writer and journalist, father of John, Lapo and Ginevra
  • ▪ Carlo Ginzburg, historian, writer, essayst and pioneer of microhistory
  • ▪ Leone Ginzburg, writer (born in Ukraine)
  • ▪ Natalia Ginzburg (b. Levi), author (Jewish father), wife of Leone and mother of Carlo
  • ▪ Arrigo Levi, writer, journalist and TV anchorman
  • ▪ Carlo Levi, writer, painter and physician
  • Primo Michele Levi, chemist and author
  • ▪ Carlo Michelstaedter, philosopher
  • ▪ Lisa Morpurgo Dordoni, writer, astrologer
  • ▪ Paolo Mieli, journalist, historian and director of Corriere della Sera
  • ▪ Liana Millu, writer
  • ▪ Alberto Moravia (b. Pincherle), author (Jewish father)
  • ▪ Alessandro Piperno, writer
  • ▪ Umberto Saba, poet (Jewish mother)
  • ▪ Roberto Saviano, writer, journalist (Jewish mother)
  • ▪ Alessandro Schwed,writer
  • ▪ Clara Sereni, writer
  • ▪ Italo Svevo (b. Schmitz), author
  • ▪ Humbert Wolfe, poet and civil servant


  • ▪ Vito D'Ancona, painter
  • ▪ Cristiana Capotondi, actress (half Jewish)
  • ▪ Gioele Dix, (b. Davide Ottolenghi) actor and comedian
  • ▪ Ginevra Elkann, film director, sister of John and Lapo
  • ▪ Arnoldo Foà, actor
  • ▪ Massimiliano Fuksas, architect
  • ▪ Itamar Harari, architect and designer
  • ▪ Alessandro Haber, actor
  • ▪ Carlo Levi, writer, painter and physician
  • ▪ Leo Lionni
  • ▪ Nicolo Cottarelli, (b. Nicolo Weisbaum), baritone and cultural critic
  • ▪ Emanuele Luzzati, painter
  • ▪ Gabriele Levy, sculptor
  • ▪ Anna Magnani, actress (Jewish mother)
  • ▪ Amedeo Modigliani, painter and sculptor
  • ▪ Moni Ovadia, theatre figure
  • ▪ Gillo Pontecorvo, director
  • ▪ Xenia Rappoport, actress
  • ▪ Bruno Zevi, architect


  • ▪ John & Lapo Elkann, Vice Chairman of Fiat (Jewish father).
  • ▪ Armand, Georges, Maurice & Paul Marciano, founders of GUESS
  • ▪ Moses Haim Montefiore, financier & philanthropist.
  • ▪ Adriano Olivetti, son of Camillo, industrialist and social activist.
  • ▪ Camillo Olivetti, founder of Olivetti typewriters.
  • ▪ Carlo De Benedetti, industrialist, ex-CEO of FIAT, Olivetti, CIR Group, ex-deputy chairman of Banco Ambrosiano and ex president of Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso.
  • ▪ Chaim Bracha, One of the founders of Jaffa Oranges


  • ▪ Eugenio Calò, a Jewish partisan awarded the Gold Medal for Military Valour
  • ▪ Angelo Donati, banker who protected Jews in Southern France during Italian occupation in 1942-43
  • ▪ Mario Finzi, partisan (died in Auschwitz in 1945)
  • ▪ Gad Lerner, TV anchorman and journalist
  • ▪ Renato Mannheimer, pollster, president of IPSO
  • ▪ Maurizio Molinari, journalist and essayist
  • ▪ Edgardo Mortara, boy kidnapped by Catholic Papal authorities
  • ▪ Fiamma Nirenstein, essayist, journalist and MP for PDL (elected in 2008)
  • ▪ Enzo Sereni

History of Jews in Italy

Pre-Christian Rome

Middle Ages


19th Century


21st Century

1. The Jews of Asti, Fossano and Moncalvo ("Appam"). These represent the Jews expelled from France in the Middle Ages. Their liturgy is similar to that of the Ashkenazim, but contains some distinctive usages descended from the French Jews of the time of Rashi, particularly in the services for the High Holy Days.

2. Jews of the Italian rite (sometimes called "Italkim") who have resided in Italy since Roman times; see below.

3. Sephardim, who may be divided into Levantine Sephardim and Spanish and Portuguese Jews, i.e. Jews who arrived in Italy following the expulsions from Spain in 1492, Portugal in 1497 and the Kingdom of Naples in 1533.

4. Ashkenazi Jews, living mainly in the northern part of the country.
Another interesting case was that of assimilation of surnames after the Council of Trent.

We have the example of the family Salathiel, who changed his surname to Pelliccioli, whose descendants migrated to South America.( These in turn include both those expelled at the time and crypto-Jewish families who left Spain and Portugal in subsequent centuries and reverted to Judaism.

Italy Today:

The Jews of San Nicandro who are gerim descendants of the neofiti of San Nicandro Garganico;
Iranian Jews living in Rome and Milan; ▪ Libyan Jews, mostly in Rome.