MARSALA , town in Sicily. Though Jews probably lived in Marsala in Roman times, the first mention of them is made in the city statutes of the Norman period restricting the rights of Jews and Muslims with regard to property claims. In 1282, after the Sicilian Vespers, King Peter ii of Aragon ordered the restitution of property of the Jews of Marsala lost during the upheavals of the uprising. In 1321, following the complaints of the Jews in the area of Val di Mazara (which included Marsala), the Infante Peter ordered the officials in Marsala to prevent the bishop and church in Mazara from exercising jurisdiction over the local Jews because they belonged to the Crown according to their status as serfs of the Royal Chamber. The Jews are then mentioned in a royal decree of 1374, in which approval was given for the enlargement of the synagogue. Toward the end of the 14th century the community protested against the abuses inflicted on them by the citizens, who forced them to attend church functions, and stoned them when they returned to their own quarter. Royal decrees of 1402 and 1405 exempted the Jews from the authority of the bishop, restored the ritual bath which had been confiscated, and restricted the taxes paid by the Jews to one-tenth of those imposed on the whole town. Every year, on October 16, councillors (proti) were elected to administer the community affairs. On the expulsion of the Jews from Sicily in 1492, about 2,600 Jews were forced to leave the town. The synagogue was converted into a church.
G. di Giovanni, L'ebraismo della Sicilia (1748), 329–36; B. and G. Lagumina, Codice Diplomatico dei Giudei di Sicilia (1884–1909); Milano, Italia, index; Roth, Italy, index; Lionti, in: Archivio Storico Siciliano, 8 (1883), 149–55; Zunz, Gesch, 484–534. add. bibliography: V. Morabito, "La comunità ebraica di Marsala e il giudaismo non rabinico e caraita," in: N. Bucaria (ed.), Gli ebrei in Sicilia dal tardoantico al medioevo, Studi in onore di Monsignor Benedetto Rocco (1998), 117–56; H. Bresc, Arabes de langue, Juifs de religion. L'evolution du judaïsme sicilien dans l'environment latin, xiie–xve siècles (2001); M.L. Luisa Garaffa, "Caratteri topologici dell'insediamento ebraico nella Sicilia occidentale," in: Italia Judaica, 5 (1995), 268–95; S. Simonsohn, The Jews in Sicily, vols. 1–7 (1997–2005).
[Sergio Joseph Sierra /
Nadia Zeldes (2nd ed.)]