views updated May 23 2018


BOLOGNA , city of north central Italy. There is documented evidence of a Jewish presence since 1353, when the Jewish banker Gaius Finzi from Rome took up his residence in the quartier of Porta Procola. In the second half of the 14th century around 15 Jewish families settled in the city. In 1416, at the time of the papal election, a vigilance committee of Jewish notables from various parts of Italy met in Bologna to discuss the submission of an official letter to Pope Martin V in order to improve the condition of the Jews. In 1417 the bishop of Bologna compelled the Jews there to wear the Jewish *badge and to limit their activities as loan bankers. The restrictions were confirmed in 1458. Nevertheless, the community flourished. In 1473 *Bernardino da Feltre secured the establishment of a public loan bank (*Monte di Pietà) in order to undermine the activities of the Jews. It functioned for a short time only, but further attempts were made to establish one in 1505 and 1532. Thanks to new waves of immigration, the Jewish community of Bologna increased to around 650 in these years. They were involved in loan banking, commerce (silk, secondhand textiles, jewelry), medicine, and cultural life.

In the 15th–16th centuries the Bologna community included many rabbis and noted scholars, including Obadiah *Sforno, Jacob *Mantino, Azariah de' *Rossi, and Samuel *Archivolti. There were 11 synagogues in Bologna in the middle of the 16th century, even more than in Rome. In 1546 there already existed two fraternal societies, the "Ḥevrat ha-Nizharim" and the "Ḥevrat Raḥamim."

A Hebrew press printed the Book of Psalms in 1477 (its first book), with commentary by D. Kimḥi, in an edition of 300 copies. Among the printers were Meister Joseph and his son, Ḥayyim Mordecai, and Hezekiah of Ventura. About the same time – between 1477 and 1480 – they printed two small-size editions of the Book of Psalms.

Two other Hebrew printing presses were set up in Bologna, the first under the supervision of *Abraham b. Ḥayyim dei Tintori of Pesaro (see *Incunabula) operating in 1477–82 and the second of silk makers and intellectuals (among them Obadiah Sforno) operating in 1537–41. In 1482 the first edition of the Pentateuch with Onkelos and Rashi and the Five Scrolls with commentaries were printed. Only the Pentateuch bears the city's name. In 1537 a siddur of the Roman rite, mostly on parchment, and some other works were printed (i.e., Or Ammim by Sforno in 1537 and Piskei Halakhot by Moses Recanati in 1538) and in 1540/41 a maḥzor of the same rite appeared with commentary by Joseph *Treves. The university library owns an important collection of Hebrew manuscripts and early editions.

Bologna reverted to direct papal rule in 1513, and not long after the community began to suffer from the consequences of the Counter-Reformation. In 1553 the Talmud and other Hebrew works were burned on the instructions of Pope Julius iii. In 1556 *Paul iv issued an order confining Jewish residence to a ghetto. In 1566 the ghetto was established in a central area of the city, behind the Two Towers. Pius v established a House of *Catechumens in Bologna in 1568 and in the following year Bologna was among the towns of the papal states from which the Jews were banished. More than 800 Jews were forced to leave, paying in addition the enormous fine of 40,000 scudi. The cemetery was given to the nuns of S. Pietro, who completely destroyed it in order to use the land. As a result of the apparently more liberal attitude of Sixtus v, Jews returned to Bologna in 1586, but in 1593, 900 Jews were expelled again by Clement viii. On this occasion they removed the bones of their dead, which they reburied in the cemetery of Pieve di Cento.

Subsequently Jews were not able to settle officially in Bologna for two centuries. Foreign Jews occasionally were allowed accommodation in the central Osteria del Cappello Rosso inn. In 1796, in the period after the French conquests, several Jews went to live there. They later suffered from the renewed papal rule, and their position progressively deteriorated until in 1836 some of them who belonged to the Italian Risorgimento movement were again expelled. It was in Bologna that the kidnapping of the child Edgardo *Mortara took place in 1858, an affair that aroused the civilized world. When the city was annexed to Piedmont in 1859, equal rights were granted to the Jews and they fully participated to the cultural, economic, and social life of the city: Luigi Luzzati and Attilio Muggia were among the founders of two important charitable institutions, respectively the "Società cooperativa degli operai" (1867) and the "Casa provinciale del lavoro (1887)"; Amilcare Zamorani founded and owned the daily newspaper Il Resto del Carlino (1885). The family of Lazzaro Carpi, who participated actively in the Italian Risorgimento, strongly supported the Jewish community and organized the first prayer room in their home in 1859. During the 1870s the Jewish community established a new synagogue active until 1929 when a new one was built in the same place.

[Attilio Milano /

Federica Francesconi (2nd ed.)]

At the beginning of the 20th century, about 900 Jews, mostly business and professional people, lived in Bologna. In January 1938, months before the anti-Jewish laws, Il Resto del Carlino, the local daily newspaper founded by Amilcare Zamorani, initiated a campaign against the Jews. One of the first signs of the new antisemitic atmosphere was the changing of the name of the Via de' Giudei to the Via delle Due Torri. With the onset of the anti-Jewish laws in September, Jewish teachers and students were forced to leave the public schools. The municipality established an elementary school with two classes for Jewish pupils only, while the Jewish community set up three sections for middle and upper school. Fifty-one Jewish professors were retired from the University of Bologna, including 11 tenured professors and 40 others. Also forced to leave were 492 foreign Jewish students. Italian Jewish students already enrolled at the university were allowed to finish, but no new Italian Jewish students were admitted. In addition, 17 doctors, 14 lawyers, and three journalists were no longer permitted to exercise their professions. With only a few exceptions, there were no reactions or manifestations of dissent on the part of their "Aryan" colleagues.

After the German occupation of Italy in September 1943, the persecution in Bologna became deadly. With the collaboration of Fascist activists, Nazi raids, roundups, and deportations of Jews to death camps were frequent. Jewish properties and possessions were confiscated, and only partially returned after liberation. One hundred and fourteen Jews from Bologna were deported to Auschwitz, where nearly all of them died. About half of them passed through the transit camp of Fossoli. Eighty-four of the 114 belonged to the Jewish community. Among them was Rabbi Alberto Orvieto. Their names are engraved on the plaque on the facade of the synagogue in Via Mario Finzi. The other 30 deportees had been baptized or had chosen not to register themselves in the community. In addition to the 114, a number of deported Jews from outside Bologna were captured there.

Even before September 1943, a section of the Delegazione assistenza emigrati (Delasem) functioned in Bologna to help foreign Jews. It was directed by Mario Finzi, who during the German occupation produced false identity cards for Italian and foreign Jews in the Bologna and Florence area and delivered them through Don Leto Casini. Finzi was arrested in April and deported to Auschwitz in May 1944, from where he did not return. Eugenio Heiman, president of the Jewish community after the war, was also active in Delasem.

Many Jews were able to hide and save themselves with false documents provided by Delasem or the Resistance. About 20 Jews from Bologna became partisans and fought especially in the brigades of Giustizia e Libertà, linked to the Partito d'Azione. Several lost their lives in the struggle, including the lawyer Mario Jacchìa, commander of northwestern Emilia, and 13-year-old Franco Cesana (1931–1944), believed to be the youngest Italian partisan.

The Jewish community was reconstituted in 1945. The synagogue, destroyed in an Allied bombing raid in 1943, was rebuilt under the direction of Eng. Guido Muggia, the grandson of the original builder, and inaugurated in 1954. By 1990 the number of Jews was reduced to 230 with a number of Israelis studying at the University.

[Anna Grattarola (2nd ed.)]


Ravà, in: L'Educatore Israelita, 20 (1872), 237–42, 295–301; 21 (1873), 73–79, 140–4, 174–6; 22 (1874), 19–21, 111–3, 296–8; Sonne, in: huca, 16 (1941), 35–98; Roth, Italy, index; Milano, Italia, index; H.D. Friedberg, Toledot ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Italyah (19562), 28ff.; D.W. Amram, Makers of Hebrew Books in Italy (1909), 47f.; A.M. Habermann, Ha-Sefer ha-Ivri be-Hitpatteḥuto (1968), 84, 121; L. Ruggini, in: Studia et Documenta Historia et Juris, 25 (1959), 186–308 (It.), index. add. bibliography: I. Pini, "Famiglie, insediamenti e banchi ebraici a Bologna e nel Bolognese nella seconda metà del Trecento," in: Quaderni Storici, 22/54 (1983), 783–814; M.G. Muzzarelli (ed.), Verso l'epilogo di una convivenza: gli ebrei a Bologna nel xvi secolo (1996); N.S. Onofri, Ebrei e fascismo a Bologna (1989); L. Bergonzini, La svastica a Bologna settembre 1943–aprile 1945 (1998): D. Mirri and S. Arieti, La cattedra negata (2002). A. Grattarola, "Gli ebrei a Bologna tra xviii e xx secolo," in: F. Bonilauri and V. Maugeri (ed.), Museo Ebraico di Bologna. Guida ai percorsi storici (2002); L. Pardo, La sinagoga di Bologna. Vicende e prospettive di un luogo e di una presenza ebraica (2001).


views updated May 23 2018


The Italian city of Bologna was a major center of Europe's textile industry during the Renaissance and the home of a famous university. During the 1300s and 1400s, the city's population averaged about 50,000 and rose to about 70,000 at the end of the 1500s.

Politics and Economy. In 1278 Bologna became part of the Papal States, a group of territories ruled by the pope. Several local groups attempted to gain control of the city. By 1394 some nobles succeeded, governing through an executive body called the Reggimento. However, other Bolognese families and the popes still sought to rule the city. In 1447 the Reggimento and Pope Nicholas V signed an agreement known as Capitulations. It gave Bologna its own code of laws, government institutions, currency, and certain privileges, but the city remained part of the Papal States.

During the late 1400s the Bentivoglio family led efforts to gain more autonomy* for Bologna. Annibale, Santo, and Giovanni II Bentivoglio ruled the city and built up its power. But after a series of conspiracies and invasions, Pope Julius II expelled the family in 1506. He replaced the Reggimento with another ruling body, the Senate, and tried unsuccessfully to suspend the Capitulations. The pope appointed members of the Senate but did not otherwise interfere with its authority. By the 1500s, the Senate controlled all social, financial, and political affairs in Bologna.

The silk industry was an important source of Bologna's wealth and fame. Local artisans* designed a mill that allowed them to spin a very strong, soft thread and to use fewer workers. During the 1500s about half of the city's residents relied on the silk industry. Bologna also boasted significant local agriculture and a major university famous for law and medicine. Its nearly 2,000 students, many from abroad, contributed a great deal to the economy. A number of famous scholars taught at the University of Bologna.

Art and Culture. Bologna produced few notable artists or architects until the late 1400s, when the Bentivoglio family became active patrons*. The family supported both foreign and local artists, such as the sculptor Niccolò dell'Arca. As a result of this support and Bologna's close ties with Rome, the city became a center of Baroque* art. Other nobles followed the Bentivoglios' example of supporting Bolognese artists. Impressive new public buildings, sculptures, and private villas* enriched the city. Bologna proved to be a particularly good environment for female artists. Several women became known for their portraits of Bolognese scholars, religious leaders, and society figures. Among these women was the noted sculptor Properzia de' Rossi.

(See alsoBaroque; Italy; Patronage; Pomponazzi, Pietro; Popes and Papacy; Universities. )

* autonomy

independent self-government

* artisan

skilled worker or craftsperson

* patron

supporter or financial sponsor of an artist or writer

* Baroque

artistic style of the 1600s characterized by movement, drama, and grandness of scale

* villa

luxurious country home and the land surrounding it


views updated May 09 2018

Bologna City at the foot of Apennines, n central Italy; capital of Bologna and Emilia-Romagna province. Originally an Etruscan town, Felsina, it was colonized by Rome in the 2nd century bc. It has an 11th-century university, the incomplete Church of San Petronio (1390) and the Palazzo Comunale. Industries: mechanical and electrical engineering, agricultural machinery, publishing, chemicals. Pop. (2001) 380,000.


views updated May 18 2018

bo·lo·gna / bəˈlōnē/ (also bologna sausage) • n. a large smoked, seasoned sausage made of various meats, esp. beef and pork.


views updated May 18 2018

bologna See polony.