Preachers of the Italian Ghetto. Author: Frederick J. Date: Jan. Document Type: Book review. Length: words. After some time, however, it was determined that these also should be segregated.
This was called Ghetto Nuovissimo — a title given to it in all probability only when it became associated with the Jewish settlement. The area in question was known by these names even before it had any Jewish associations. Moreover, the original Jewish quarter. This fact alone is sufficient to make it plain, beyond all shadow of a doubt, that the origin of the word is to be looked for in Venetian, not in Jewish, antiquities, and that its Jewish associations are purely accidental.
The enquiry addressed to Venetian antiquities elicits a ready and unquestionable response. In the north of Venice, there had been from time immemorial two islands, subsequently joined by a bridge. The one, towards the Canareggio, had become habitable quite early, and had been used as a foundry geto : this name being given to it by reason of the operation of casting metals gettare which was carried on in it.
In the fifteenth century, the other island was reclaimed, and adapted for the same purpose. This accordingly became known as the Geto Nttovo, while the other was called the Getto Vecchio. The name Getto, as applied to this area, dates back at least as far as the fourteenth century, while the word is found in Venetian terminology as early as l. The Jewish quarter of Venice was the oldest of its sort in Italy, if not in the world. It wTas here that the example was set of instituting a special area for Jewish residence, surrounded on all sides with wralls or other impassable barriers, provided with gates which were closed at nightfall, and made to serve as the principal instrument for the utter segregation of its.
Outside this precinct, no Jew was allowed to live : within it, no Christian was permitted so remain once night had fallen and the prison-gates were closed.
Preachers of the Italian Ghetto
This institution served as model for all those which were established in the rest of Italy in consequence of the Catholic Reaction. The injunction was given as far as Rome was concerned in the Bull Cum Nimis Absurdum of July 12th : the Jewish quarter formally came into being on July 26th, and it was walled on October 3rd. The example was followed in Florence and Tuscany in , in Verona in , in Padua in , and so on. It is not by any means remarkable that the name of the original Venetian institution should have been applied also to these successive imitations. This, no doubt, was responsible for its first hesitant use in Pius IV.
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Hence, in an analogous manner, it spread into other European languages, though with the looser sense of a quarter inhabited in great part by Jews, without any legal connotation. One difficulty only arises — that of the transition of geto ige'to to ghetto Qe'to. It has already been pointed out" that these is in fact nothing insuperable in this. We have the examples of similar words, such as traghetto and conghiettura, in which the g has hardened.
But the final proof is to be found in the living. The derivation here under discussion was championed in by L. Stern x, supported by E. Teza 2 and by numerous later authorities. But, as a matter of fact, it goes back two and a half centuries further, to a period when the history of the area in question was still fresh in human memory. The editor of Sansovino's Venetia Citta Nobilissinia — less than a hundred years after the foundation of the institution — discusses the origin of the name, and has no hesitation in declaring that it derives from the foundry which formerly existed on this spot 3.
In his day, moreover, there was visible proof of this hypothesis : for, over the main gateway of the Ghetto, towards the Cana- reggio, there was to be seen a painted canon-ball — a plain indication of its former use and of the real origin of the name. Against this concrete fact, coupled with unbroken Venetian tradition and the undisputed historical facts, there does not seem to be any possibility of appeal.
History of the Jews in Venice Philadelphia, I have no sense of shame or apology in stating that I have now completely changed my mind about this point. I, a. The root meaning is ' engraving ' cf. Roth, Venice, p. This is the most probable, but not the only, derivation suggested for the name. It goes back, however, to the sixteenth century R. Roth, op. A map of the Venetian Ghetto, shewing its historical development and the situation of its characteristic institutions, may be found at the close of this work.
It appears that the use of the term geto to denote the Jewish quarter, without any strickly topographical indication, began at Venice at an early date. The foundry was disused after the first half of the fifteenth century. The spelling, in view of later developments, is noteworthy. It can only be a coincidence that the Jewish quarter of Mestre the parent-colony of Venic , so far as the Jewish settlement was concerned was known as Piraghetto Roth, op.
Notifie storiche del castello di Meslre Venice, , I, 1 It is possible that the consonantal transformation of the Venetian Jewish quarter was influenced by this extraordinary, but surely accidental,. Women, says the preacher, must heed the moral instruction of the religious authorities even when they do not like it. The example chosen to illustrate the point is one in which the preacher claims the women of his city are particularly susceptible to failure: the prohibition against revealing their hair or adorning themselves with a Gentile wig that is indistinguishable from their own hair.
But this is not, as Roth would suggest, simply a matter of Jewish women being influenced by their surroundings. Preachers were also moved to condemn what they considered to be a deterioration of sexual mores. Israel Bettan cited a passage by Azariah Figo condemning the practice perhaps more widespread in Italy than in other countries? A far more serious charge is leveled by Figo elsewhere: From then [the destruction of the second Temple] until now, the first two of these sins, namely idolatry and murder, have ceased from the people of Israel.
Thank God, there are no reports of a pattern or even a tendency to commit these two sins among our nation—except as a result of compulsion, or in a rare individual case. But the third sin, sexual immorality gillui arayot , has not been properly guarded against. Jews have violated the rules in these sinful generations in various ways, engaging in all kinds of destructive behavior publicly, out in the open, without any shame or embarrassment.
Financial arrangements also had the potential to create deep conflicts. With considerable power, Azariah Figo addressed the complex problem of impermissible loans. Yet here we see those who lend money on interest, which involves six transgressions for the lender, as well as others for the borrower, the guarantor, the witnesses, and the scribe, and all are silent.
Like the passage about sexual immorality cited above, this reflects a serious gap between the values of the community and those of its religious leadership. The prevalent social norms deem the dietary laws to be crucial to Jewish identity even though from a legal standpoint they do not entail the most serious of sins.
Taking interest from a fellow Jew has more serious legal consequences, but ordinary Jews consider it innocuous. Those who are aware of the prohibition, we are told, show deference to the tradition by hypocritical attempts to avoid the appearance of transgression, through ruses such as an arrangement by which the creditor may live in an apartment without rent.
As for the cambio exchange contract , some may be permissible, but many others are totally forbidden, so that even the well-intentioned merchant may unwittingly err. In addition to areas of major conflict, the sermons may reveal aspects of the norms of social life and mentality.
Wedding sermons must surely reflect the attitude of the preacher toward women and marriage.
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He then proceeds, What can a man do who wants to find himself a wife? Today they tell him one thing, tomorrow another, until their combined efforts wear him down.
Preachers of the Italian ghetto
A passage in a sermon by Katzenellenbogen gives us a glimpse of child-rearing practices that might be related to the burgeoning scholarly literature on attitudes toward children and private life. At issue is an aggadic statement B.
But this is obvious, the preacher says: if the small children were left home alone, their parents would stand impatiently and resentfully during the sermon, not listening to what was being said but wishing it would end, afraid that their children might be harmed. The fact that Italian preachers such as Katzenellenbogen and Modena made eulogies a significant component of their relatively small selection of published sermons may well have solidified the prestige of that genre as a written text.
No consideration of Jewish attitudes toward death and beliefs about the afterlife can claim any semblance of respectability unless it is based on a thorough study of this literature.
Though often stylized and filled with conventions and commonplaces, the eulogies also reveal the texture of interpersonal relationships: the feelings of a student for his teacher or the teacher for a young student , the bonds of genuine friendship, the pain at the loss of a member of the immediate family. I must mention one other kind of occasional preaching. Not infrequently, the sermon was used as a vehicle to raise funds for a worthy cause. Each community supported the central institutions of Jewish life through a system of self-imposed taxation, and there were standard funds for freewill offerings.
But there were also unusual cases that warranted a special appeal from the pulpit. The causes deemed worthy of such special appeals reflect the shared values of the society, and the arguments used to convince the listeners give point to a consensus about the expectations of responsibility in Jewish life. For example, Moscato devoted a significant part of a sermon for the holiday of Sukkot to an appeal on behalf of the impoverished sick. The entire solicitation section is an integral part of the sermon, crafted with no less artistic sophistication than the rest.
Katzenellenbogen delivered a eulogy for R. The eulogy ends with a direct appeal: There is no need to dwell at length on these matters, for I know that your excellencies are not unaware of the great power of this mitzvah of charitable giving, particularly at this perilous time. But I beseech your excellencies to contribute speedily as much as you can, in accordance with the needs of the hour.
And I will be the first to perform this mitzvah; see my example and do likewise.
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Even in more normal times, the eulogy was apparently an occasion for appeals on behalf of needy members of the family of the deceased. Leon Modena excelled in this, as in so many other areas.