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Jewish Venice - Comunità Ebraica di Venezia

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The history of the Jewish Community of Venice, which is the capital of the Veneto region of Italy has been well known since the medieval era.

Beginning in 1516, the Republic obliged the Jews to live in an area of the city where the foundries, known in Venetian as "geti", had been situated in ancient times, to wear a sign of identification and to manage the city's pawnshops at rates established by the Serenissima. The first Jews to comply with the decree were the Ashkenazim from mid-eastern Europe. Their guttural pronunciation changed the Venetian term "geto" into "ghetto".

Known as "Scole", the synagogues of the Venetian ghetto were constructed between the early-16th and mid-17th centuries. Each represented a different ethnic group that had settled here stably and obtained a guarantee of religious freedom: the German and Canton "Scole" practiced the Ashkenazi rite; the Italian, the Italian rite and the Levantine and Spanish, the Sephardic rite.

After the fall of the Serenissima in 1797, Napoleon decreed the end of the Jewish segregation and the equalization of the Jews to other citizens. This provision became definitive when Venice was annexed to the Italian Kingdom. . . . Continued

Jewish Venice

Venice Notables

  • Meir ben Isaac Katzenellenbogen (1473–1565), one of the greatest Italian rabbis and Torah scholar of his time. Meir was also head of the council of regional rabbis in Venice and he took an active part in their meetings despite his many other responsibilities.

Many rabbis, including Moses Isserles, addressed him in their responsa as the "Av Bet Din of the Republic of Venice." He also represented the Padua region at Venice meetings in matters of a general nature, not only in religious affairs.
On June 21, 1554 the heads of seven Italian communities (Venice, Rome, Bologna, Ferrara, Mantua, Reggio, and Modena) assembled in Ferrara and enacted takkanot for the benefit of the population. Katzenellenbogen presided and headed the list of signatories in the capacity of "delegate of representations of the republic of Venice."

  • Leon Modena or Yehudah Aryeh Mi-modena (1571–1648) was a Jewish scholar born in Venice of a notable French family that had migrated to Italy after an expulsion of Jews from France.
  • Rabbi Azaria Piccio (1579-1647) was a Venetian sofer (scribe) and ba’al darshan (preacher) who served in the Jewish communities of Venice and Pisa.

Family Tree and Autobiography of a Seventeenth-century Venetian Rabbi, Leon Modena, by Leone Modena. (Family Tree Chart, see preface Xl )