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Amalfi

Amalfi (ämäl´fē), town (1991 pop. 5,589), in Campania, S Italy, a small fishing port on the Gulf of Sorrento. Built on a mountain slope, it is also a picturesque seaside resort. According to legend, Amalfi was founded by the Romans; it later became (9th cent. AD) an early Italian maritime republic. It rivaled Pisa, Venice, and Genoa in wealth and power and had a population of about 70,000. Amalfi's maritime code, the Tavole Amalfitane, had wide influence until the 18th cent. Amalfi reached its zenith in the 11th cent. Thereafter it declined fairly rapidly; it was captured (1131) by the Normans and sacked (1135, 1137) by the Pisans, and in 1343 a storm destroyed much of the town. Of note in Amalfi is the Sicilian-Arab cathedral (11th cent., with numerous later additions), which has an imposing facade, fine bronze doors cast (1066) in Constantinople, and a stunning cloister (chiostro del Paradiso). The Amalfi Coast, running from Salerno to Sorrento, is famous for its rugged scenery.

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Amalfi

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Amalfi

AMALFI

AMALFI , Italian port on the Gulf of Salerno, S.E. of Naples. The first information about Jews living in Amalfi dates from the tenth century. According to the Chronicle of *Ahimaaz, two of his great-uncles, Shabbetai and Papaleone, went on a mission some time in the tenth century on behalf of the lord of Amalfi to the emir of Kairouan, bearing gifts to their kinsman Paltiel, who held a high position at the emir's court. The Jews of Amalfi formed a relatively small community, engaged in trade, silk manufacture, and garment dyeing. Jewish presence in Amalfi is also attested by letters from the Cairo *Genizah. In a letter from the beginning of the 11th century a young Jewish scholar of Italian origins who passed through Amalfi on his way to Palermo and then to Egypt mentioned meeting two local Jews, Hannanel and Menahem, who helped him deal with the local traders. Other letters of the Genizah, from the middle of the 11th century, mention trade in silk, textiles, and honey from Amalfi. The Genizah letters indicate that the Jews were involved to some extent in the commerce between Amalfi, Sicily, and Egypt during the 11th century. The medieval Jewish traveler *Benjamin of Tudela found some 20 Jewish families there in about 1159. A Jew is mentioned among ten bankers who loaned money to Charles i of Anjou in 1269. In 1292, after measures were taken to force the Jews to convert to Christianity throughout the kingdom of *Naples, more than 20 families of "neofiti" (converts) remained in Amalfi. The Jewish community, reconstituted in 1306, ceased to exist when the Jews were banished from the kingdom of Naples in 1541.

bibliography:

Kaufmann, Schriften, 3 (1915), 32 ff.; Cassuto, in: Hermann Cohen Festschrift (1912), 389–404; Roth, Italy, index; Milano, Italia, index; Dark Ages, index; N. Ferorelli, Ebrei nell' Italia meridionale (1915); M. Ben Sasson, The Jews of Sicily 825–1068 (1991); M. Gil, In the Kingdom of Ishmael, vols. 2, 3 (1997); S. Simonsohn, The Jews in Sicily, 1 (1997).

[Nadia Zeldes (2nd ed.)]

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