FOA (generally Foà in Italy), Italian family well-known from the 15th century; in the 18th century it became established also in Amsterdam, Constantinople, and France, where the forms Foi or Foy were adopted in due course. The origin of the name is unknown, but it may derive from Foix in southern France, where there was a Jewish community in the Middle Ages. A. Yaari (Meḥkerei Sefer (1958), 325–44) assembled the names of 100 distinguished members of the family. The family badge shows the Shield of David over a palm tree flanked by two lions. This was used as their distinctive *printers' mark by successive members of the Foa family from the middle of the 16th to the 19th century (see below).
eliezer nahman (d. after 1641), rabbi and kabbalist, a disciple of Menahem Azariah da *Fano. He lived at Reggio Emilia where he became chief rabbi of the duchy of Modena. He was at the head of the pious association Ḥevrat ha-Aluvim which sponsored the printing of the commentary on the Passover Haggadah, Midrash be-Ḥiddush (Venice, 1641; complete ed. Leghorn, 1809). He also left a diffuse philosophic and kabbalistic commentary on the Pentateuch, Goren Ornan (Ms. in Mortara, Almanzi, and Ghirondi collections). moses benjamin (1729–1822), bibliophile and bookseller of Reggio Emilia, supplied books to the ducal library at Modena and later became one of the most celebrated booksellers in Italy. Hepurchased the library of Israel Benjamin *Bassano, which he later presented to the Jewish community at Reggio. He wrote a Hebrew grammar and copied expertly several Hebrew manuscripts. elia emanuel (d. 1796) founded a Jewish school in Vercelli which attained a high standard and continued to flourish for over a century.
In more recent times, the following should be mentioned: cesare (1833–1907), born at Sabbioneta and later rabbi in Soragna. He translated into Italian works by *Judah Halevi, Moses *Zacuto, and Jacob Daniel *Olmo. pio (1848–1923), a pathologist, was born in Sabbioneta. He became a professor at the universities of Modena and Turin, and wrote a standard treatise on pathological anatomy. An ardent Italian patriot and in his youth a follower of Garibaldi, he was made a senator of the kingdom. His son carlo (1878–n.a.), a physiologist, worked on the function of the glands of internal secretion, and was lecturer at various Italian universities. He was prize winner and later member of the Accademia dei Lincei. A member of another branch of this family was salvatore (1885–1962), born in Turin, who wrote several monographs on the history of the Jews in Piedmont. The French branch of the family produced well-known explorers, writers, and philanthropists. One of these, edouard (1862–1901), explored the interior of Dahomey in 1886 and in 1894–97 crossed Africa from the mouth of the Zambesi on the Indian Ocean to Libreville in Gabon on the Atlantic Ocean, His books include Le Dahomey (1895) and De l'Océan Indien à l'Océan Atlantique (1900), and Résultats scientifiques des voyages en Afrique d'Edouard Foa (published posthumously, 1908).
One section of the family devoted itself to Hebrew printing. tobias ben eliezer (16th century) set up a Hebrew printing press in his house in *Sabbioneta in 1551. In its last years, Tobias' sons eliezer and mordecai headed this enterprise, which had to close after difficulties with the censor, the last works on the press being finished in *Cremona and *Mantua. Tobias started the fashion of printing special copies, often on parchment, for wealthy patrons. nathanel ben jehiel began his printing activity as a hobby in Amsterdam in 1702, prompted by his uncle and brother-in-law Joseph Ẓarefati. Most of the works he issued (12 up to 1715) were written by emissaries from Ereẓ Israel or were manuscripts which they had brought with them. isaac ben gad (b. c. 1700), physician and one of the leaders of the Venice Jewish community, ventured into Hebrew printing about the time of the birth of his son gad (1730–1811) and produced mainly liturgical items until 1739. From 1741 Isaac was in the book trade proper. In 1742 he entered into partnership with his kinsman samuel, who was also father of a son gad, the two Gads later taking over the business. Gad b. Samuel appears as the sole printer between 1775 and 1778; he moved to *Pisa in 1796, producing 13 books at his own press or at that of David Cesna. His last major production, in association with Eliezer Saadun, was a handsome Hebrew Bible of 1803. Gad b. Isaac resumed printing in Venice in 1792 until 1809. Among the few major works produced by the Foas of Venice are the first four volumes of Isaac Lampronti's talmudic encyclopedia Pahad Yizḥak.
M. Mortara, Indice alfabetico dei Rabbini e Scrittori Israeliti (1886), s.v.; G. Pugleise, Elia Emmanuel Foa ed il suo tempo (1896); Ghirondi-Neppi, index; A. Balletti, Gli Ebrei e gli Estensi (19302), 223–9; G. Bedarida, Ebrei d'Italia (1950), indexes; A. Yaari, Meḥkerei Sefer (1958), 324–419.