13 January 2007

Italy: Intriguing Jewish history

Jewish history in Italy dates at least as far back as the Romans; signs of Jewish life past and present can be found in many small towns as well as major cities.

Searching for information on the Jewish history of Sicily - one of the largest Jewish communities following the 1492 Expulsion?

Here's a good starting point for images of the ancient community in Agira, Catania, Palermo, Randazzo, Messina and Salemi. Many pages of the site are in Italian, some are in English - it is all interesting.

A recent JTA story references a compromise solution to a five-year struggle over which city would be home to the Italian Holocaust Memorial. Rome will be the site of the Holocaust Museum, while the northern city of Ferrara will host a museum of Italian Jewry with a Holocaust section.

The site of the Rome memorial is on the grounds of the Villa Torlonia, the former residence of Benito Mussolini. Roman-era Jewish catacombs are under the villa. Rome's mayor, Walter Veltroni hopes the museum will open Oct. 16, 2008, the 65th anniversary of the day that Germans captured more than 1,000 Jews from Rome’s ghetto. Elie Wiesel was named the museum's honorary president.

An earlier JTA story focuses on a 2003 guidebook to Jewish heritage in Italy.

The article focuses on Annie Sacerdoti. Twenty years ago, Sacerdoti was hired to produce a documentary about Jewish history in Italy’s northern Lombardy region. This led her to publish a guide to Jewish Italy and, during the 1990s, she also edited a guidebook series on Jewish heritage in Italian regions.

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