17 June 2007

Italy: More on Jews in the south

Nardo Bonomi, who lives near Florence, Italy, is conducting groundbreaking work on the Jews of Italy. He spoke at the 2006 International Conference on Jewish Genealogy and answered many questions.

For more on Italian Jewish genealogy, see Nardo's Web site.

Although various archives hold documents, many of the towns that once had Jewish populations no longer have any Jewish community. Thus no one has really been interested in the records for these towns - except for Nardo, of course!

Nardo recommends a 1915 book by Nicola Ferorelli, Gli ebrei nell'Italia meridionale, reprinted 1966 by Arnaldo Forni Editore, Sala Bolognese pp. 283. The 283-page book lists places in Southern Italy (including Sardenia and Sicily) where Jews were resident in the 15th century.

The Web site of the Center for Calabrian and Sicilian Jewry offers much information for those looking for Italian Jewish roots.

"It has been estimated that prior to the Inquisition, at least forty
per cent of the combined population of Calabria and Sicily was Jewish. In fact, in dozens of small towns and villages throughout Calabria and Sicily, interesting remnants of Jewish life remain to this day. Historians have discovered indications of a thriving Jewish presence in the quartiere in major cities and the via giudecca in smaller towns and communities."

The Italian version of the page is better as it provides an interesting list of names with the numbers of people with each name.

According to this page, in 1492, there were Jews bearing names of cities and small towns, such as Ragusa, Siragusa/Siracusa, Ferra, Ferla, Catania, Messina, Monreale, Palermo, Trapani, Lentini, Sciacca, Enna as well as the cities of Milano, Pisa, Genova o Roma or the region, Calabria o Calabrese. Other names are of Hebrew origin: Isaia, Saja, Namias, Namia, or occupations: Orefice, Cremisi, Croccolo, Ferla, Ferula, Tinto, Sità, della Seta, Seta, Zaffarano, etc.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:58 AM

    I have used Ferrorelli's book which I found at the British library. Very interesting material. From my own research it is clear that what most historians "believe" including Mr Bonomi is that in 1541 there were no more Jews in the Kingdom of Naples due to the "Expulsion" order. I beleive this order was never fully carried out as I have seen the remnants of Jewish tradition being steadfastly adhered to by people with the same names as pre-1541. Even the Bonomo name lives on in small villages around Salerno