views updated Jun 08 2018


VERONA , city in N. Italy. Jews may have settled there as early as the Roman period, and certainly not later than the early Middle Ages. In the tenth century they were expelled from the city as a consequence of incitement by the bishop Ratherius. Jewish settlement was renewed in the 12th century, and in this period and the following century most of the Jews apparently engaged in trade. Several scholars lived in Verona, including the tosafists *Eliezer b. Samuel of Verona (grandfather of the philosopher and physician *Hillel b. Samuel of Verona) and Isaiah b. Mali di Trani (the Elder). The bet din of Verona and the teaching of its scholars are mentioned by the scholars of Germany. The poet *Immanuel of Rome was in Verona at the beginning of the 14th century. After an interval, Jewish settlement was renewed at the beginning of the 15th century, when the city passed to the Republic of Venice, and Jewish loan-bankers settled there. The Jews were again expelled from Verona after the establishment in 1490 of a Christian loan bank (*Monte di Pietà). However, at the beginning of the 16th century the community became permanent, consisting largely of immigrants who had been arriving from Germany. In the 17th century a number of Sephardim settled there, among them members of the well-known *Aboab family, and organized a separate community. The two communities eventually set up a common organization, but friction between them lasted for a long while. The Verona community numbered about 400 at the end of the 16th century, and approximately 900 at the end of the 18th century. A ghetto was set up in Verona in 1599 after a threatened expulsion. The community succeeded in securing charge of the keys, an event commemorated by the Verona Jews in the 17th and 18th centuries by an annual festivity. The community suffered numerous deaths (about 200) in the great plague which swept Italy in 1629–30. Jewish banking diminished in importance in this period and the Jews of Verona mainly earned their livelihood from trade and crafts. Another important source of subsistence for Verona Jews in the 17th and 18th centuries was lease of the tobacco monopoly. Many Jews from other centers attended the great fairs held in Verona, and in the middle of the 18th century the Verona community demanded that levies should be paid by Jews visiting the fairs from outside. In consequence a bitter dispute broke out between the Verona Jews and the communities of Mantua, Modena, and Ferrara.

The Jews in Verona were not spared the economic crisis from which the communities of Italy suffered in this period. The number of poor dependent upon the community continually increased. The structure and organization of the community were similar to those of the other communities in Italy. Apparently the Verona community was the first to establish the reform of the tax system known as the "casella", which was introduced at the end of the 17th century and in the course of time was adopted in many of the communities in Italy. Rabbis of Verona from the 16th century on included Johanan b. Saadiah, Joez b. Jacob, Samuel *Aboab, Samuel *Meldola, Menahem Navarra, and members of the *Bassani, *Hephetz (Gentile), Marini, Pincherle, and other families.

A few books in Hebrew type were printed in Verona at the press of Francesco delle Donne between 1592 and 1595, one of them in Judeo-German (Pariz un Viena, 1594). Most important of the Hebrew books was the Tanḥuma of 1595, produced by Jacob b. Gershon *Bak, of Prague, and Abraham b. Shabbetai Bath-Sheba (*Basevi). Fifty years later Hebrew printing was resumed at the press of Francesco de' Rossi (1645–52), on the initiative of the Verona rabbis Samuel Aboab (and his sons Jacob and Joseph) and Jacob *Ḥagiz, the first part of the latter's edition of the Mishnah with his commentary Eẓ Ḥayyim appearing in 1649 (the rest in Leghorn, 1650). Abraham Ortona was employed as typesetter. Two other printers were active in Verona late in the 18th and early in the 19th century, printing mainly liturgical items.

When the French revolutionary armies appeared in the vicinity of Verona, the local population made an assault upon the ghetto and its inhabitants. After the capture of the city by the French in 1796, however, the ghetto was abolished, its gates were symbolically torn down, and the Jews were granted civil equality. Israel Cohen from Verona took part in the deliberations of the French *Sanhedrin. When subsequently Verona came under Austrian rule, their civil rights were slightly curtailed, but the Jews of the city were not again confined to the ghetto. Full civil equality was restored to them when Verona was incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy. There were about 1,200 Jews living in Verona in the middle of the 19th century. Subsequently their numbers steadily diminished through emigration or assimilation and at the beginning of the 20th century they numbered about 600. In 1931 there were 429 Jews in the community of Verona. During the Holocaust 30 Jews were taken to the extermination camps. After the war the membership of the community was about 120, which remained constant over the next few decades.


Milano, Bibliotheca, 183–4, supplement: 1954–63 (1964), 68; Milano, Italia, index; Roth, Italy, index; idem, History of the Jews in Venice (1930), index; idem, Gleanings (1967), 200–39; I. Sonne, in: Kobez al-Jad, 13 (1940), 151–83; D.W. Amram, Makers of Hebrew Books in Italy (1909), 388–91; B. Friedberg, Toledot ha-Defus ha-Ivri … (19502), 84f.

[Shlomo Simonsohn]


views updated Jun 11 2018

Verona City on the River Adige, ne Italy, capital of Verona province. The city was captured by Rome in 89 bc, and still has a Roman amphitheatre. It prospered under the Della Scala family in the 13th and 14th centuries, and was held by Austria from 1797 to 1866, when it joined Italy. Industries: textiles, chemicals, paper, printing, wine. Pop. (2000) 257,477.