Mortara, Marco

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MORTARA, MARCO (1815–1894), Italian rabbi and scholar. He attended the rabbinical seminary in Padua under Samuel David *Luzzatto, was ordained in 1836, and from 1842 officiated as rabbi of Mantua. Mortara represented the liberal trend in Judaism in Italy and argued that a distinction be made between the Jewish religion and Jewish nationality. He proposed a conference of Italian rabbis in 1866 in order to secure certain reforms in Jewish practices, but his suggestion did not materialize. In the sphere of biblical study, Mortara opposed the documentary hypothesis and argued for the unity and Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch (1843). He considered that the task of Judaism was to spread monotheism and morality throughout the world and that this was facilitated by the Dispersion. Mortara published books on the principles of Judaism and a new edition of the prayer book whose translation into Italian was based on that by S.D. Luzzatto. His most important work was in the area of bibliography and includes a catalog of the manuscripts in the library of the Mantua community (1878), and Mazkeret Ḥakhmei Italyah (Indice alfabetico dei rabbini e scrittori israeliti di cose giudaiche in Italia; 1886), a list of approximately 2,000 Jewish scholars living in Italy from the first to the 19th centuries. He was a notable bibliophile, his collection of manuscripts being purchased after his death by David *Kaufmann.


Corriere Israelitico, 22 (1884), 227–8; Vessillo Israelitico, 34 (1886), 188–9; 42 (1894), 59–62; Shunami, Bibl, nos. 3987–88.

[Menachem E. Artom]