ROME , capital of Italy.
The Classical Period
the middle and late republic
The earliest record of contact between Jews and the Roman Republic is the embassy sent by *Judah the Maccabee to Rome, headed by Eupolemos ben Joḥanan, and Jason ben Eleazar. The two ambassadors arrived in Rome, and there concluded an alliance with the Roman Republic (i Macc. 7:23–29, Jos., Ant. 12:417–19 and War i:38). Successive Hasmoneans rulers renewed the treaty. Jonathan sent two envoys to Rome, Numenius son of Antiochos and Antipater son of Jason, to renew the treaty with Rome (i Macc. 12:1–23, and Jos., Ant. 13:164–170). Simon sent another embassy, perhaps headed by the same Numenios, envoy of Jonathan (i Macc. 14:24, Jos., Ant. 13:227). Also John Hyrcanus renewed the alliance in 132 b.c.e. (Jos., Ant. 13:259–66). In the treaty mentioned by Josephus, the Roman Republic recognized the conquests of Simon the Maccabee.
These treaties, however, are not evidence for the presence of Jews and even less so a Jewish community in Rome. However, Valerius Flaccus (i, 3:3) mentions that in 139 b.c.e. the praetor peregrinus G.C. Hispanus expelled Chaldeans, astrologers, and Jews who "attempted to contaminate the morals of the Romans with the worship of Jupiter Sabatius." It is thus clear that according to the Roman author there was a presence of Jews other than the Hasmonean envoys, trying to proselytize.
The first nucleus of a Jewish community probably consisted of Jews arriving at the end of the second century b.c.e. and early first century b.c.e. These were joined by the Jewish prisoners brought in 61 b.c.e. by Pompey after his campaigns in Judea against the Hasmonean state (Philo, Legatio 23:155). Aristobulos ii, who precipitated the war against Pompey, embellished the Roman warlord's triumph (Plutarch, Life of Pompeyxlv). When L.V. Flaccus, propraetor of the Province of Asia in 62 b.c.e., was accused of the embezzlement of funds, which included the half-shekel sent by the Jews of Asia to the Temple of Jerusalem, Cicero took his defense. In the oration (Pro Flacco 67–68), Cicero mentions that "Jews sent gold also from Italy" to Jerusalem and also notes the "aggressiveness of the Jewish mobs at political gathering." It is probable that by then there existed an organized Jewish community in Rome, which included Jews who had arrived before 63 b.c.e. and of course the Jewish prisoners of Pompey who had been freed. The legal status of the Jews living in Late Republican Rome thus varies from that of citizens, liberti (freed slaves possessing Roman citizenship), peregrines or foreigners, and of course slaves. The community was organized as a collegium, with a special status. Moreover this community regularly sent the half-shekel tax to the Temple in Jerusalem, like all the other organized Jewish communities in the Diaspora. Last but not least, it is possible that some of the Jews living in Rome took the side of the "populares," at least according to Cicero. It seems that Rome's Jews supported Julius Caesar. This is quite possible, as the latter restored in part the glories of the Hasmonean state tarnished by Pompey. In addition, Caesar exempted the Jewish synagogues from the laws he enacted to curb the power of the Roman collegia. It is no surprise then that according to Suetonius (Julius Caesarlxxxiv), Jews as a group mourned at Caesar's funeral in the middle of the Roman Forum.
The Early Empire
Only with Augustus is there clear-cut evidence of an organized Jewish community in Rome. By then Judea was firmly under the rule of King Herod, a staunch ally of Rome. Thus Augustus recognized the Jewish community as a collegium licitum, with privileges. Jews could send to Jerusalem both the half-shekel and the first fruits. The Roman state assisted poor Jews with the annona (free distribution of money or grain). If the distribution was made on the Sabbath, Jews were entitled to get the money or grain the next day (Philo, Legatio 156–58). Most of the Jews lived in an area across the Tiber, the Transtiberinum. At least three synagogues can be dated to the Augustan period, the congregations of the Augustienses, of the Agrippienses, and of the Herodians. Jews were quite conspicuous in Augustan Rome. The proselytizing activity of the Jews aroused the interest of the poet Horace (Saturaei, 4:140–43).
Under the rule of the Julio-Claudians (14 c.e.–68 c.e.) a number of incidents connected with the Jewish community in Rome are worthy of mention. Thus, under Tiberius, it seems that Sejanus, the praefectus praetorius tried to expel the Jews from Rome. The occasion arose when a Roman matrona, Fulvia, wife of the senator Saturninus (Jos., Ant. 18:81–84) was victimized by four Jews. Consequently Tiberius ordered the banishment of the Jews from Rome in 19 c.e., and around 4,000, were to be sent to Sardinia to fight against the bandits (Tacitus, Annalesii, 85:4). However, it seems that Jews who were Roman citizens were not affected. Thus only foreign Jews were expelled. On the other hand the Jews who were sent to Sardinia had the status of freedmen. With Sejan's execution the ban was probably revoked. Under Claudius, Suetonius records that Claudius expelled "Judaeos impulsore Chraesto" (Claudius 25:4). This sentence had been the subject of various interpretations. It seems that only Judeo-Christians were expelled, or those Jews who took part in brawls with Christians. Josephus mentions that under Nero, as member of an embassy from Judea, he was graciously received by the empress Poppaea under the protection of the Jewish actor Alityros, a favorite of Nero (Josephus, Life 3).
The Jewish War of 66–70 c.e. deeply affected the Jewish community in Rome. First a great number of Jews arrived in Rome as prisoners. These prisoners, some of them later freed, significantly augmented the Jewish population of Rome. The Jewish leaders *Simon bar Giora and *John of Giscala walked in chains during Titus' triumph (Jos., War 7:118–57). Moreover, the gold from the Temple in Jerusalem was used to finance various building projects, the most important being the Flavian amphitheater known as the Colosseum. The new ruler, Vespasian, enacted a law that obliged the Jews living in the Roman Empire to pay a new poll tax, the fiscus Judaicus, to the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, instead of the half-shekel paid to the Temple in Jerusalem, now destroyed. The handling of the tax was administered by an official whose title was procurator ad capitularia Judaeorum. Vespasian did not enact any other discriminatory law against the Jews, nor did any anti-Jewish rioting occur following the war in Rome, as in other cities of the empire, most notably in Alexandria and Damascus. Domitian the last Flavian ruler, is remembered for his strict and harsh enforcement of the fiscus Judaicus (Suetonius, Domitianus 12:2). When the emperor discovered in 95 c.e. that Flavius Clemens and his wife, Flavia Domitilla, both members of the imperial family, were probably proselytes to Judaism, he had Flavius executed and his wife exiled. It is not clear if this was a measure directed against Jewish proselytism, or only an episode connected to members of the Imperial family. During Domitian's reign the poet Martial was active in Rome. In his poetry the degraded social condition of some of the Jews then living in Rome is reflected. Martial thus remarks that Jews are begging (xii, 57:13) and writes about his Jewish slave (vii, 35:3–4). It is in this period that the Jewish patriarch Rabban *Gamaliel ii, with three scholars, *Joshua ben Ḥananiah, *Eleazar ben Azariah and Rabbi *Akiva visited Rome (Mish., Ma'as. Sh. 5:9, Er. 4:1; tb, Suk. 23a, 41b, Mak. 24a; Sifrei Deut. 43; tj Er. 1, 19b, Suk. 2:4, 52d; Avot de Rabbi Nathan 1:14, 32a).
After Domitian's murder the new emperor, Cocceius Nerva, abolished all abuse connected with the enforcement of the Jewish tax. Coins bearing the legend Calumnia Judaica sublata were minted. Trajan, although he repressed a revolt in Judea, and in the last year of his rule had to face the huge Diaspora revolt of Cyrenaica, Cyprus, and Egypt, did not modify the legal situation of the Jews living in Rome. On the contrary he appears in a positive light as the protagonist of various Midrashim. Hadrian, Trajan's successor, enacted around 131 c.e. a law banning circumcision. Although there is no other data, it is probable that this law also affected the Jewish community living in Rome. During the reigns of Trajan and Hadrian the Roman poet Juvenal was active. His saturae reflects the prejudices of the Romans towards the Jews. Thus once again Juvenal gives a picture of Jewish beggars camping near the Egeria grove (3:12–16), asking for alms near synagogues (3:296), or telling fortunes to passersby (6:542–47). Juvenal also despises the Roman proselytes who fear the Sabbath, represented as a day of idleness (14:96–106). However, Juvenal's poetry does not reflect any special anti-Jewish feeling. Like most Romans, Juvenal despised foreigners. His invectives against other ethnic groups coming from the provinces, like Egyptians and Orientals, are even stronger than those against Jews.
the late empire
For Late Antiquity, classic texts are supplemented by epigraphic and archaeological evidence. Antoninus Pius, the first ruler of the Antonine dynasty, abolished Hadrian's ban on circumcision. However, he enacted harsh decrees forbidding the Jews to proselytize. It seems that Marcus Aurelius and Commodus opened public offices to Jews. According to Callistus, the future pope, he broke into a synagogue to disrupt the Sabbath service. The Roman authorities reacted swiftly, and Callistus was sentenced by the praetor to forced labor in the mines of Sardinia. Under Septimius Severus and his dynasty the government attitude towards the Jews continued to be positive. Thus Septimius Severus renewed Marcus Aurelius' decree to allow Jews to be eligible for public office, and he exempted them from such duties as might interfere with their religious practice (Digesta 27, 1.15.6; 50, 2.3.3). However, Septimius Severus once more forbade Jewish proselytism (Spartianus, Severus 17:1). His son Antoninus is remembered for his "Constitutio Antoniniana," which granted Roman citizenship to all the free inhabitants of the Roman Empire, including Jews. The Jewish community in Rome was probably affected, because Jews living in Rome under the status of peregrine now became Roman citizens. According to Lampridius (Antoninus Heliogabalus 3:4–5), Heliogabalus wished to observe both Judaism and Christianity. Alexander Severus was known as the "Syrian archisynagogus" by his enemies (Lampridius, Alexander Severus 28:7), stressing a tie, true or imagined, with the Jews. Moreover he had a high regard for both Judaism and Christianity. Rome's Jews probably suffered from the anarchy and the economic situation of the third century c.e. following Alexander Severus' murder. But that affected the other peoples of the Roman Empire as well. In 284 Diocletian became emperor. His reorganization of the Roman Empire did not affect the Jewish community of Rome legally. However, with Constantine, who emerged as the Roman emperor in the West in 313 c.e., the legal situation of the Jews began to change for the worse.
In Late Antiquity there were various synagogues in Rome. To the synagogues of the Augustienses, the Agrippienses, and the Herodians, new synagogues were added, such as the synagogue of the Calcarensians, the Campensians, Elaea, Hebrews, Secenians, Siburensians, Tripolitans, Vernaclensians, Volumnesians, and perhaps of Severus. Synagogue membership thus united the congregations according to various criteria. Hence some congregations were created by clients or liberti of a Roman personality (like the synagogues of the Augustienses, the Agrippienses, the Volumnesians, and of Severus), other congregations were composed of members coming from the same place (like the synagogue of the Tripolitans), and still others perhaps took their names from the profession of most of the congregation's members (like the synagogue of the Calcarensians or lime burners) or from its location in Rome (Campensis from the Campus Martius quarter, Siburensians from the Subura quarter). Other synagogues' names indicated a social group, such as the synagogue of the Vernaclensians, or of Roman-born Jews. The synagogue of the Hebrews probably took its name from the fact that its members were Hebrew-speaking.
It is not certain that the Roman Jewish community had a central body as did, for example, the Jewish community of Alexandria. Most of the scholars do not believe they did. Each synagogue was headed by an archisynagogus, assisted by archontes. It is possible that some congregations had a gerousia, or council of elders. Then the gerousia was headed by the gerousiarches. The grammateus' office was probably that of secretary of the congregation. The titles Pater Synagogae and Mater Synagogae were honorary and these were given to some of the members of the congregation.
The Roman Jewish community was on the whole Greek-speaking. Very few inscriptions are in Latin, or in Hebrew. The names of Ancient Rome's Jews reflect this situation. Most of the names are characteristic Greek names used by Jews, such as Alexander, Theodoros, Theodothos, and Zosimos. Latin names are translations of Jewish names like Benedicta and Vitalis as well as genuine Roman names like Aurelius and Julius. Sometimes double names are used. Few names are Jewish, like Isaac, Judas, or Sarah. The professions of the Roman Jews are unknown for the more wealthy members. The more humble were painters, actors, lime burners, and even a soldier, a certain Rufinus. In all probably about 10,000 Jews lived in Late Imperial Rome.
Epigraphy also throws light on the existence of spiritual life in Ancient Rome. Thus through epitaphs some "Teachers of the Law" as well as "Students of the Sages" are known. The Talmud indeed mentions a Jewish sage from Rome called Josa Todros (probably *Theodosius). He introduced the minhag of including in the meal on Passover eve a roast lamb in commemoration of the paschal lamb sacrificed in Jerusalem (tj, Pes. 7:1, tb, Ber. 19a). The sages grudgingly accepted the practice.
Roman Jews used *catacombs to bury their dead. Six Jewish catacombs have been excavated around Rome. The Monteverde Catacombs situated between the ancient Via Aurelia and the Via Portuense, the Catacombs of Vigna Cimarra, Vigna Rondanini, and Via Appia Pignatelli (although research shows that it was used by non-Jews), all situated near the Via Appia, the Labicana Catacombs situated near Via Labicana, and the Catacombs of Villa Torlonia situated near the ancient Via Nomentina. These catacombs together contain about 100,000 graves. Approximately 600 inscriptions have been found in Greek, many more in Latin, and formulae in Hebrew. The catacombs consist of a complex of subterranean corridors and chambers with loculi and arcosolia. Some of the catacombs (Vigna Rondanini and Villa Torlonia) are decorated with ceiling paintings combining pagan (Nike, peacocks, dolphins) as well as Jewish symbols (menorah). The inscriptions are sometimes decorated with the menorah, the Torah ark, the etrog and the lulav. Some sarcophagi have been found. Again pagan iconography such as the Four Seasons and theater masks are blended with obviously Jewish menorot. Clay lamps as well as glass objects decorated with Jewish symbols have been excavated.
The Jews of ancient Rome lived in an environment that even today could be characterized quite open and friendly. Imperial law protected them, although with some limitations (the ban on proselytism). Moreover, with the exception of the fiscus Judaicus Jews were not discriminated against. Even in times of tension, such as during the 66–70 war, the imperial government did not revoke any of their privileges. The local population was never physically hostile (as for example in Alexandria), even if sometimes the Jews were seen in a negative light, but only because some of them were foreigners or poor and not because they were Jews. Rome's Jews were thus successful in assimilating many elements of the surrounding Roman-Italic society, both in the organization of the community and in their material culture, but they still held clearly to a separate cultural identity.
[Samuele Rocca (2nd ed.)]
In Talmudic Literature
The relationship between Rome and the Jews living in the Land of Israel was often characterized by periods of strain and war. Thus Pompey's campaigns in the East ended with the conquest of the Hasmonean kingdom. The Roman administration of Judea between 6 c.e. and 66 c.e. was often characterized by cruel and corrupt officials. Moreover the Great Revolt against the Romans (66–74 c.e.), which ended in the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, and the Bar Kokhba War (132–135 c.e.), which ended in the destruction of almost all the Jewish settlements in Judea, could only contribute to a totally negative image of Rome. It is not surprising then that Rome is referred to in rabbinic literature by various negative designations – *Edom, Esau (see *Esau, In the Aggadah), *Amalek, Seir, *Tyre; the guilty kingdom; the wanton government; the fourth kingdom; and other epithets, mostly denigratory. It is compared, among other things, to the pig and the eagle, both impure animals (both animals appeared on the Vexilla (standards) of the Roman legions based in the Land of Israel).
The first sages, however, who lived between the destruction of the Temple and the Bar Kokhba War, were already divided in their attitude towards Rome. Scholars like *Zechariah b. Avkilus and activists like Akiva as well as R. *Simeon bar Yoḥai took a totally negative view. The attitude of the moderates found expression in *Joḥanan b. Zakkai's dictum not to be hasty "to demolish the high places of gentiles lest they be rebuilt by your hands" (Tanḥ. ed. Hoffman, p. 58; arn2 31, 66).
While in the time of the tannaim, in the second century, a time of prosperity for the Roman Empire, there were those who argued: "The government takes in abundance and gives in abundance" (Sif. Deut. 354), in the period of the amoraim, in the third and fourth centuries, a time of distress for the Roman Empire, they came to deride the hypocrisy of Rome which robs and puts on an appearance of innocence and compassion to the poor (Ex. R. 31:11; Tanḥ. Mishpatim 14; pdrk 95b; Mid. Ps. to 10:6). They were well aware in former times of the extortion practiced by provincial government officials (arn11 11, 46, 47).
The rabbis were aware of the great wealth of Rome (arn1 28, p. 85; Git. 58a) but also of its arrogance and pride (Sif. Num. 131). They said that the Romans' claim that they were brothers to Israel was mere hypocrisy (Pes. 118b).
The Roman emperor, the ruler of the empire, has a place apart in talmudic literature. Many Roman emperors are mentioned, such as *Nero, *Vespasian, *Titus, *Trajan, *Hadrian, *Antoninus, Septimius *Severus, and *Diocletian. Though many of the statements about them are legendary, it is not always so (cf. the story that Trajan's wife gave birth to a son on the Ninth of Av – tj, Suk. 5:1, 55b – with the statement that his daughter was born on the day the Temple was destroyed – Suetonius, Titus, 5). It is interesting that most emperors, with the obvious exception of Titus and Hadrian, are depicted often in a neutral and even positive way.
It is important to stress that most of the sages lived in a period of quite friendly relations between Rome and the Jews living in the Land of Israel, mainly Galilee, symbolized by the relationship between *Judah ha-Nasi and the legendary Antoniunus. Thus, beginning with the end of the second century c.e., the sages began to enjoin not to anticipate "the end of days," which is concealed (Sanh. 97b; de, ed. Higger, p. 313); they also said that there was an oath extracted from the Jews not to rebel against the government and that one must even honor the government (Mekh. Pisḥa 13). There were also scholars who actively called for prayers for the welfare of Rome, "since but for the fear of it, men would swallow each other up alive" (Avot 3:2; cf. Av. Zar. 4a). On the other hand stringent criticism was also heard against the Pax Romana of "this guilty kingdom," "which is engaged in war the whole time" (Mekh. Be-Shallaḥ 1 (89), Amalek 1 (181)) and which "levies recruits from every nation" (pdrk, Ha-Kodesh ha-Zeh, 7–89–90). These criticisms were leveled against Rome in general and not because of a specific problem between the Roman government and the Jews. In a bold homily, either of praise or of delicate ironic sarcasm, Simeon b. (Resh) Lakish praises the government of the country, saying that it is very good, better than the kingdom of heaven, because it exacts justice for men (Gen. R. 9:13). The criticism of the government of Rome as inferior to that of heaven (cf. Ber. 28b) is probably connected with the fact that from the close of the first century c.e.*emperor worship became official in Rome. They stressed that Israel was not subject to Rome but to the will of God. The sages were divided on the question of the political status of Rome. Some claimed that "this nation has been enthroned by Heaven" (Av. Zar. 18a) and that one should submit to it even at a time of religious persecution.
In everyday life, Rome as such was known to the Jews and the rabbis living in the Land of Israel through its provincial administration. Thus the Romans seen in the Land of Israel were more often than not the governor and the various magistrates responsible for the application of Roman law, officials responsible for taxation, and of course the omnipresent Roman soldiers. For example, Roman court procedure, including methods of investigation, tortures, and punishments, are described at length in rabbinic literature, which also recognizes that in general the Empire was indeed administered according to the law (with its defects) but that in times of persecution the protection of the law was completely removed (Mekh. Shirata 7; cf. Sif. Deut. 24 and 323). Many descriptions have been preserved of the deeds of tyrannical and cruel Roman officials, who on behalf of the government confiscated Jewish lands after the destruction of the Temple and after the Bar Kokhba Revolt (see, e.g., Kil. 7:6; bk 117a; Sif. Deut. 317; 357; bm 101a; Lam. R. 5:4).
Roman taxation, mainly in the difficult third century, is treated at length in talmudic literature. The sources speak of the baleshet ("inspectorate") and balashim ("inspectors"), who came chiefly in connection with the payment of tolls and taxes (see *Taxation), and of collectors and tax collectors, who were suspected of misappropriating the property of the inhabitants (Tosef., Beẓah 2:6; Toh. 7:6; Tosef., Toh. 8:5). For this reason most tannaim held it permissible to avoid payment of tolls and even to swear falsely to the tax collectors (Ned. 3:4; Tosef., Shevu. 2:14; tj, Ned. 3:4–5, 38a; bk 113a); only on rare occasions during a period of good relations with Rome, is the reverse opinion heard (Pes. 112b). In a still later period the halakhah was laid down, out of fear of harsh persecutions, that he who cheats the tax is as though "shedding blood… as if worshiping idols, acting immorally, and desecrating the Sabbath" (Sem. 2:9; cf. Lev. R. 33:6). Instructive descriptions have also been preserved of the methods both of the tax collectors and of those who avoided the tax (see, e.g., Tosef., Kel. 1:1, bm 3:9, bm 7:12, 8:25), and special halakhic arrangements were also made to facilitate the orderly collection of taxes (tj, Ket. 10:5, 34a, 13:2, 35d). Jewish publicans and inspectors who cooperated with the government were regarded as guilty of grave transgressions and were reckoned as robbers whose repentance was exceptionally difficult.
On the other hand there were different and conflicting views with regard to Jews, including scholars, serving in the Roman service, whether perforce or of choice (see *Eleazar b. Simeon, *Ishmael b. Yose b. Ḥalafta, *Joshua b, Korḥa). Another problem was whether it was permitted to hand over Jews wanted by the Roman authorities (see *Joshua b. Levi; cf. Tosef., Ter. 7:20). Nevertheless, *informers who acted willingly were regarded as exceptionally degenerate and compared with heretics and apostates (Tosef., bm 2:33, Sanh. 13:5).
The influence of the Roman Law is discernible to a considerable degree in the halakhah and is reflected in many various and unusual spheres, such as the disqualification of a bill of divorce that has not the proper Roman date (Git. 8:5; cf. Tosef., bb 11:2 and Git. 8 (6):3; Yad. 4:8) "because of peril" (tj, Git. 8:5, 49c), originally introduced for good relations with the state; or the disqualification of "coin of the revolt" as a substitute for the second tithe (*ma'aser sheni; Tosef., Ma'as. Sh. 1:5–6: "Coins of Bar Kokhba and coins of Jerusalem may not be substituted…"). Although in these cases the halakhic possibilities were limited by the existence of the Roman government, the reverse is also true.
The Roman legions are viewed sometimes with open admiration, as in a homily in the Pesikta of Rabbi Kahana, where the Ten Plagues are compared to a Roman Legion besieging a city (Pesikta of Rabbi Kahana 7:11). However the deterioration in the quality of the Roman soldiers at the end of the second and the beginning of the third century c.e. was observed. Thus even in the view of *Judah ha-Nasi, the friend of Rome, the Roman legion was of no value (Tanḥ. Va-Yeshev 3).
Roman culture in the Hellenistic East and of course the Land of Israel was not as widespread as in the Latin West.
The Latin language was seldom used in the East, where Greek was commonly used also by the Roman administration. It is significant that Latin words are much less frequent in rabbinic literature than Greek (the proportion being approximately 1 to 8). Most of the sages could not even speak Latin and were naturally ignorant of its literature. In their view the Latin language was good for "war" (i.e., it was merely the language of the army; tj, Meg. 1:11, 71b; see also S. Krauss, Lehnwoerter, 1, xix, xxi).
Characteristic Roman buildings adopted in the Greek East were the bathhouse, the theater (inherited by the Greeks), and the amphitheater. In principle Roman bathhouses were permitted. Thus it was permitted to bathe in a small gentile bathhouse immediately after the Sabbath if there was "a local authority" in the town, since it could be assumed that the heating of the water, was done for the non-Jews (Makhsh. 2:5). However, if the bathhouse served a pagan temple it was forbidden (avodah zarah). The sages forbade the Jews to go to the theater or the amphitheater, the former because it was considered a waste of time, the latter because the sages were averse to bloodshed in every form and gladiatorial games were not considered at all in a positive light. However, attending both the theater and amphitheater was permitted for reasons of state or the saving of lives.
After the Constitutio Antoniniana of 212 c.e., the Jewish ruling class in the Land of Israel received Roman citizenship. One of the symbols of this new status was the wearing of the toga. The sages warns against assimilating to the Roman costume: "that thou say not: since they wear the toga, I too will wear it" (Sif. Dent. 81 and cf. ibid. 234). It was also forbidden to adopt the Roman tonsure, except for scholars who were "in contact with the government," and for the same reason (Sot. 49b), they were permitted to learn Greek and "to look into a mirror" (tj, Shab. 6:1, 7d).
The sages particularly warned against the excessive esteem in certain circles toward Roman law and culture: "Perhaps you will say: They have statutes and we do not have statutes?… there is yet place for the evil inclination to reflect and say: Theirs are more suitable than ours!…" (Sifra to Aḥarei Mot 13:9).
In conclusion the sages were divided in their evaluation of Rome and its activities. Judah said "How becoming are the deeds of these people: they built markets, they built bridges, they built bathhouses"; however, Simeon b. Yoḥai replied: "Whatever they built they merely did for themselves; they built markets to settle harlots in, bath houses to delight themselves in, bridges to take tolls" (Shab. 33b; cf. the aggadah on Rome in judgment before the Holy One in the time to come – Av. Zar. 2b). In the opinion of Reuben b. Strobilus: "the public buildings and baths and streets which this wicked kingdom makes, were their intentions for the sake of heaven, they would have been worthy to possess the world, but their sole intention is for their own needs" (Mid. Hag. to Gen. 44:24); and according to Gamaliel: "the kingdom feeds on four things – tolls, baths, theaters, and taxes" (arn1 28, 85).
Joshua b. Levi, who visited Rome, there saw "pillars covered with tapestry so that in winter they should not contract and in summer they should not split, but in the market he saw a poor man wrapped in a single mat – others say in half an ass' pack saddle" (Gen. R. 33:1).
In the diversity of their views on Rome the rabbis are no different from their contemporaries, as can be seen by comparison with the evaluations of the Greeks, the Church Fathers, and even the Romans themselves. The dialogues between the sages and eminent Romans preserved in rabbinic literature are instructive since these conversations have an actual historical, political, social, or ideological background. It is immaterial whether they actually took place; what is important is that the subjects of these conversations are not accidental but characteristic of the time and of the speakers.
[Moshe David Herr /
Samuele Rocca (2nd ed.)]
The Christian Empire
With the adoption of Christianity by the Roman emperors the position of the Jews changed immediately for the worse. While Judaism remained officially a tolerated religion as before, its actual status deteriorated, and every pressure was brought on the Jews to adopt the now-dominant faith. In 387–388, a Christian mob, after systematically destroying heathen temples, turned its attention to the synagogues and burned one of them to the ground. The same took place later under Theodoric (493–526) when, in consequence of the punishment of some Christian slaves for the murder of their Jewish master, the Jews were attacked, their synagogue burned, and that of the Samaritans confiscated. When Rome was captured by the Vandals in 455, the Jerusalem Temple spoils preserved as trophies in the Temple of Jupiter were carried off to Africa. Thereafter the city ceased to be regarded as capital of the empire, and it lost greatly in importance, prosperity, and population. There is no detailed information of the lot of the Roman Jews at this period, but it must be imagined that they suffered and declined economically with the rest of the inhabitants.
Following the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, the Christian bishop of Rome, the pope, became the dominant force in the former imperial city and the immediate neighborhood, with moral authority recognized, to a greater or lesser degree, over the whole of western Christendom. Hence, over a period of some 1,400 years, the history of the Jews in Rome is in great part the reflection of the papal policies toward the Jews. However, down to the period of the Counter-Reformation in the 16th century, there was a tendency for the papal anti-Jewish pronouncements to be applied less strictly in Rome than by zealous rulers and ecclesiastics abroad, while on the other hand the papal protective policies were on the whole followed more faithfully in Rome itself than elsewhere. The keynote to papal policy was set by *Gregoryi (the Great; 590–604), who firmly proclaimed that while the Jews should not be allowed to presume to more than was allowed them by law, the minimal rights accorded them of maintaining their synagogues and performing their religious rites should in no circumstances be infringed. The Roman Jews (who apparently at this time were engaged in foreign trade extending to the south of France) were in a position to approach the pope on behalf of their brethren abroad in case of emergency and to secure his intervention. His policies were presumably followed by succeeding popes.
Scholarship and Literary Activities
It was about this period that the revival of Hebrew studies took place in Italy. The scholars of Rome begin to figure in tenth-century rabbinic sources, which mention with respect talmudic scholarship centered on a local yeshivah Metivta de Mata Romi. The first scholar of note was R. *Kalonymus b. Moses, father of R. *Meshullam b. Kalonymus the Great (second half of the tenth century) who apparently taught in Rome before settling in Lucca; then came R. Jacob "Gaon" of Rome, who headed the yeshivah. Hebrew poetry, following the tradition established in Ereẓ Israel, found one of its principal exponents in *Solomon b. Judah "the Babylonian." Italian-Hebrew learning reached its climax with R. *Nathan b. Jehiel of Rome whose great talmudic dictionary, the Arukh, bears testimony to the wide rabbinic learning and linguistic range of educated Roman Jewry at this time. The Roman Jews received their traditions mainly from Ereẓ Israel, passing them on in turn to France and Germany. This was the case, in particular, with the liturgical tradition (see *Liturgy) originally called the Minhag Romi, later the Italian rite, which with the expansion of Roman Jewry became widely established in Italy and in one or two places overseas and was the parent of the Ashkenazi rite. The formulation of this is associated with the name of R. *Menaḥem b. Solomon b. Isaac, author of the popular Midrash Sekhel Tov.
Learning continued to flourish in Rome in the succeeding centuries, mainly being centered in the ancient Anau (Anav) family, including Zedekiah b. Abraham *Anav (13th century), author of the Shibbolei ha-Leket; his brother Benjamin b. Abraham *Anav, physician and talmudist, author of the Massa Gei Ḥizzayyon; Jehiel b. Jekuthiel *Anav author of the Ma'alot ha-Middot; and several others. *Immanuel of Rome (1260–c. 1328) introduced the complexities of the Spanish tradition of Hebrew poetry to Italy, and was also a prolific writer of verse in Italian – probably by no means the only one.
In 1020 the Jews were said to have caused an earthquake in Rome by mocking a crucifix, and a number were savagely punished, but the details are vague and the story may be legendary. On the other hand, from 1130 to 1138 *Anacletus ii, a grandson of the converted Roman Jewish capitalist *Pierleoni, was able to maintain his authority for some time as anti-pope because of the support of the Roman populace. *Benjamin of Tudela, who spent some time in Rome c. 1159, found there a community of about 200 whom he described as being of high status and paying no special taxes, some of them being in the papal service; he singled out Jehiel, grandson of the author of the Arukh, and mentioned, in addition, half a dozen other scholars whom he considered outstanding. Since Benjamin specifically mentioned that one of them lived in Trastevere, it appears that the Jews now resided on both sides of the river. A building still standing on the right bank of the Tiber is believed to be one of the synagogues in use at this period.
The anti-Jewish legislation of the Fourth *Lateran Council (1215) inspired by Pope *Innocent iii does not seem to have been strictly enforced in the papal capital. Nevertheless, the record of the community was checkered. There is some evidence that copies of the Talmud were burned here after its condemnation in Paris in 1245 (see *Talmud, Burning of). In 1270 the cemetery was desecrated. The wearing of the Jewish *badge was imposed in 1257 and the city statutes of 1360 ordered male Jews to wear a red tabard, and the women a red petticoat. There was brutal horseplay against the Jews in the carnival period, in the Circo Agonale and Monte Testaccio; this abuse was ended in 1312 when the community agreed to make an annual payment, thereby constituting an unfortunate precedent for special humiliatory taxation. In 1295 Pope Boniface viii set the example abusing the Jewish delegation which went to congratulate him on his accession. In 1298, R. Elijah de' Pomi[s] was judicially murdered by the Holy Office on a trivial charge. From 1305 to 1378 the papacy was transferred to Avignon and Rome was left for a time to its own devices. When Emperor Henry vii came to Rome in 1312, the Jews went to greet him bearing the Scrolls of the Law, thereby setting a precedent which was long followed. In 1320 orders were sent from Avignon for the expulsion of the Jews from Rome, and although a deputation headed by the prolific poet and translator *Kalonymus b. Kalonymus secured the withdrawal of the decree, it appears that before the news was received Roman Jewry en masse was driven temporarily into exile. In 1322 the Talmud was again burned in Rome in obedience to a papal order.
Pope *Boniface ix (1389–1404), who tried to restore papal authority in the Italian possessions of the Holy See, was on the whole exceptionally tolerant. He favored a succession of Jewish physicians, and in 1402 granted a charter of protection to the Roman community in which their rights as citizens were specifically recognized. His immediate successors, exposed to the legislation of the *Church Councils of Constance and Basle and to the pressure of the *Franciscan friars, were ambivalent in their attitudes. *Martinv (1417–31) authorized the Roman community to distribute part of its financial burden among the other communities of the Papal States, employed Elijah b. Shabbetai as his personal physician, and tried to restore peace in the Roman community by appointing the surgeon Leuccio as its responsible head. *Eugenius iv (1431–47) embodied the anti-Jewish legislation of the 19th session of the Council of Constance in a bull of such severity that there seems to have been an exodus of Roman Jews to the marquisate of Mantua. At the moment of crisis the Italian Jewish communities decided to raise an emergency fund in order to back up their efforts to have the bull withdrawn; the community of Rome, however, was ultimately left to shoulder the whole burden, notwithstanding the efforts of its rabbi, the poet-physician Moses da *Rieti. *Nicholas v (1447–55) renewed the former anti-Jewish legislation, and patronized the anti-Jewish activities of John of *Capistrano. In 1450, Capistrano staged a religious disputation in Rome against one Gamaliel, and boasted so overwhelming a victory that he offered the pope a ship in which to transport the remnants of the community overseas. This did not eventualize; but on the accession of Capistrano's pupil *Calixtus iii in 1455, a riot took place against the Jewish delegation who, according to custom, came to congratulate him.
The Renaissance Community
The period of the High Renaissance witnessed the heyday of Roman Jewry. The popes were strong enough to resist pressure and more influenced by political motives or cultural interests than by religious preconceptions. Every pope had a Jewish physician in his employment in Rome: outstanding were Samuel Sarfati at the court of Sixtus iv and Bonet de*Lattes as that of *Leo x. Whereas elsewhere in Italy Jewish loan-bankers were admitted only on a contractual basis, in Rome the number was not limited. However, the majority of the community consisted of craftsmen. A professional census taken in 1527 reveals that 44 Jewish householders out of the 104 whose callings were indicated engaged in various branches of the clothing industry. In 1541 the Jewish and non-Jewish tailors' guilds came to an agreement for the regulation of their activities, so as to avoid competition.
David *Reuveni was magnificently greeted and received when he came to Rome in 1524, even by Pope Clement vii, who was greatly impressed also by Solomon *Molcho and extended barely credible protection to him. In 1524, under the auspices of the same pope, Daniel da *Pisa, a member of the famous Tuscan banking family then living in Rome, drew up a new intercongregational constitution for the Roman Jewish community at large.
Cardinal *Egidio da Viterbo (c. 1465–1532) had a profound interest in the Kabbalah, a considerable knowledge of Hebrew, and maintained Elijah *Levita in his home as his Hebrew tutor. Jacob *Mantino, personal physician to Paul iii, was nominated lecturer in medicine in the Sapienza in Rome in 1539 – one of the very few authenticated instances of a Jew holding an academic appointment before the age of Emancipation.
The expulsion from the Spanish dominions in 1492 brought a large body of refugees to Rome who were reluctantly received by the native community, nervous for their own position. Henceforth, by the side of the communities following the indigenous Roman liturgy, there were also synagogues according to the Aragonese, Castilian, Catalonian, and Sicilian liturgical traditions, and for a time also French and Ashkenazi synagogues.
The Counter-Reformation and the Ghetto Period
The entire tenor of Roman Jewish life suddenly changed for the worse with the Counter-Reformation. In 1542 a tribunal of the Holy Office on the Spanish model was set up in Rome and in 1553 Cornelio da Montalcino, a Franciscan friar who had embraced Judaism, was burned alive on the Campo dei Fiori. In 1543 a home for converted Jews (House of *Catechumens), later to be the scene of many tragic episodes, was established, a good part of the burden of upkeep being imposed on the Jews themselves.
On Rosh Ha-Shanah (September 4) 1553 the Talmud with many more Hebrew books was committed to the flames after official condemnation. From now on, notwithstanding occasional periods of relaxation at the outset, talmudic literature as a whole was banned in Rome, with disastrous consequences on Roman Jewish intellectual life. Most of this anti-Jewish action was inspired by Cardinal Caraffa, the embodiment of the spirit of the Counter-Reformation, who became Pope *Paul iv on May 23, 1555. Shortly afterward, he issued his bull Cum nimis absurdum (July 12, 1555) which reenacted remorselessly against the Jews all the restrictive ecclesiastical legislation hitherto only intermittently enforced. This comprised the segregation of the Jews in a special quarter, henceforth called the *ghetto; the wearing of the Jewish badge, now specified as a yellow hat in the case of the men, a yellow kerchief in the case of the women; prohibitions on owning real estate, on being called by any title of respect such as signor, on the employment by Christians of Jewish physicians, and on dealing in corn or other necessities of life; and virtual restriction to dealing in old clothes and second-hand goods. This initiated the ghetto period in Rome, and continued to govern the life of Roman Jewry for more than 300 years.
There were periods of relaxation e.g., in the pontificate of Pius iv (1559–65) and of Sixtus v (1585–90). On the other hand, Pius v (1566–72) not only renewed the severity of the system, but by his bull Hebraeorum gens of 1569 excluded the Jews from the cities of the Papal States, except Rome and Ancona; a good part of their population took refuge in Rome, where Di Capua, Di Segni, Tivoli, Terracina, Tagliacozzo, Recanati, and so on, commemorating their former places of residence, became characteristic surnames. Similarly, *Gregory xiii (1572–85) renewed and regulated the iniquitous system of the conversionist sermon, henceforth usual in Rome for many generations (see *Sermons to Jews). Whereas before the mid-16th century the Roman Jewish community had probably enjoyed more favorable circumstances than that of almost any other city in Italy and perhaps in Europe, from now on, in the age of the ghetto, the reverse was the case.
The area chosen for the Roman ghetto was a low-lying dank site on the left bank of the Tiber, subject to intermittent flooding and therefore highly insalubrious. The total Jewish population, which at its peak probably exceeded 5,000 – the highest in any city in Italy – was crowded in this circumscribed area. The rapacity of gentile landlords was, however, to some extent mitigated by the development among the Jews of the jus gazaga or proprietary right on houses, recognized also by the non-Jewish authorities. Originally the ghetto was supposed to have only a single entrance, but this was found impracticable and ultimately there were several. However, at night, on major Christian holidays, and in the Easter period, from Holy Thursday to the Saturday, the gates were closed and no Jew was allowed out of the quarter. The bull of 1555 permitted the Jews only one synagogue: this was, however, evaded by having five synagogues (or Scuole) according to the different rites under a single roof.
Among themselves the Jews, as elsewhere in Italy, spoke a *Judeo-Italian dialect, retaining old local forms and incorporating Hebrew or Spanish terms and written generally in Hebrew characters. The Jewish loan banks were finally suppressed in 1682; henceforth the occupation of the vast majority of Roman Jews was dealing in old clothes and second-hand goods, for which purpose they perambulated amid insults and contempt in all the quarters of the city. There were also a few tailors and petty shopkeepers
and a very small number of better-established merchants.
Occasional raids were made as late as the 18th century on the ghetto to ensure that the Jews did not possess any "forbidden" books – that is, in effect, any literature other than the Bible, liturgy, and carefully expurgated ritual codes. Each Saturday selected members of the community were compelled to go to a neighboring church to listen to conversionist sermons, running the gauntlet of the insults of the populace. In some reactionary interludes, the yellow Jewish hat had to be worn even inside the ghetto. Pressure was placed on the Jews to become converted, and it was forbidden for a Jew to pass under the windows of the House of Catechumens lest he should attempt to communicate with any of the occupants. Kidnapping children for the purpose of baptism was retroactively endorsed as valid, and thereby encouraged. At the carnival season Jews had to participate in a foot race down the Corso, amid the jeering of the crowd. Each new pope was humbly greeted near the Arch of Titus by a delegation of the elders of the community who presented him with a Sefer Torah, which he returned to them with contumely. The Jews were not allowed to sing psalms or dirges when they escorted their dead to the traditional burial place on the Aventine hill nor to erect tombstones over their graves. It is not remarkable that in the age of the ghetto there were few scholars or communal leaders of any distinction, the case of the courageous and erudite Tranquillo Vita *Corcos (1660–1730) being exceptional.
The popes, in accordance with their former humane tradition, still indeed protected the Jews against such accusations as the *blood libel, which was virtually unknown in Rome; but in other respects the lot of the Roman Jews was increasingly pitiable. The Editto sopra gli Ebrei (1775) of Pope Pius vi reiterated all of the previous restrictions with accumulated humiliations, down to the last detail. When in 1783 two orphans were kidnapped for baptism on the demand of a remote relative who had been converted, there was a veritable revolt in the ghetto, followed by widespread arrests. A petition presented to the pope imploring for some alleviation in conditions, supported by a memorandum presented by 12 courageous Christian advocates, proved fruitless. The leaders of the community now canvassed the possibility of organizing systematic emigration to some less bigoted land such as England.
Freedom, Reaction, and Eventual Emancipation
When the reactions of the French Revolution reached Rome, there were widespread arrests among the Jews, and in January 1793 the ghetto narrowly escaped total sack – a providential deliverance thereafter commemorated by an annual celebration. On Feb. 21, 1798 the occupying French forces proclaimed equality for the Jews, but with the subsequent changes of regime, conditions remained precarious until 1809, when Rome was annexed to the Napoleonic Empire, and a *consistory on the French model was set up in 1811. However, in 1814 the rule of the popes was reestablished and from then on the ghetto and the restrictive practices of the ghetto period were once again enforced, excepting only the enforcement of the wearing of the Jewish badge. With the election of Pope Leo xii in 1823, conditions became grimmer still. Jews who had opened shops outside the ghetto had to close them, attendance at conversionist sermons again became compulsory, Jews were forbidden to employ Christians even to light fires for them on the Sabbath, and enforced baptisms again became common. On the accession of Pius ix in 1846, the gates and walls of the ghetto were removed, but thereafter the once-kindly pope turned reactionary and relentlessly enforced anti-Jewish restrictions until the end. During the Roman Republic of 1849, under Mazzini, Jews participated in public life, and three were elected to the short-lived Constituent Assembly; but within five months the papal reactionary rule was reestablished to last, without any perceptible liberalization, until the capture of Rome by the forces of united Italy in 1870. On October 13 a royal decree abolished all religious disabilities from which citizens of the new capital had formerly suffered, and the Jews of Rome were henceforth on the same legal footing as their fellow Romans.
Released prisoners obviously could not recover overnight from the legacy of the long centuries of ghetto humiliation. Some of the more gifted naturally were now able to find a proper outlet for their talents, and, in addition, the capital of united Italy attracted ambitious Jews from other cities who entered into government service, commerce, and industry. Many of the erstwhile peddlers became shopkeepers and even antique dealers. Thus a new sort of society began to be formed at the apex of the Jewish community, strongly affected, however, as in other cases, by assimilation and indifference. But still the bulk of the Roman Jewish community remained street merchants, familiar figures in the thoroughfares and on the steps of the ancient monuments, as they had been ever since classical times. Hence demographically the Roman Jewish community remained the healthiest in Italy. While other historic Jewish centers diminished through emigration, and those who remained barely maintained their numbers, Rome was increased both by immigration and by the vigorous state of its Jewish proletariat – the only one remaining in Italian Jewry which could be so designated.
Yet in other respects the progress of Roman Jewry was slow, notwithstanding all efforts. The city corporation took the lead in destroying the old ghetto quarter, a magnificent new synagogue with an organ being built on the site in 1900–04 to replace the old Cinque Scuole ("Five Synagogues") which were accidentally burned around this time. After a succession of rabbis brought from the Levant (Judah de Leon (Leoni di Leone), 1796–1830; Israel Moses *Ḥazzan, 1847–52) and even vacancies in the office, the Italian-trained Moses Ehrenreich was appointed in 1890; he was succeeded by Ḥayyim *Castiglioni (1903–11), one of the last of the Italian school of Hebrew poets, and he in turn by the courageous Angelo *Sacerdoti (1912–34). In 1887–1904 an unsuccessful attempt was made to reestablish in Rome the once-distinguished rabbinical seminary of Padua (see *Collegio Rabbinico Italiano); it was to return to Rome definitely on a more secure basis in 1930 after abrilliant interlude in Florence. But it was only during the period after World War i, with the remarkable, development of Rome itself, that Roman Jewry may be said to have regained the primacy in Italian Jewish life which it had enjoyed in the remote past.
In the opinion of most scholars nine or ten *incunabula printed in square type without date or place-name, probably before 1480, should be ascribed to Rome. Among them are the Pentateuch commentaries of Rashi and Naḥmanides, Maimonides' Code Mishneh Torah and Guide of the Perplexed; Nathan b. Jehiel's Arukh, Moses b. Jacob of Coucy's Sefer Mitzvot Gadol, Solomon b. Abraham Adret's responsa, Levi b. Gershom's commentary to Daniel, and David Kimḥi's Shorashim. Only one Hebrew Press was licensed in Rome in the 16th century, and few Hebrew books were brought out by non-Jewish printing houses. The one Jewish press was run by Elijah Levita who, with the help of the three sons of his kinsman Avigdor Ashkenazi Kaẓav and under a papal privilege, printed here in 1518 three of his grammatical works. Around 1508 a prayer book was produced by J. Mazzochi and perhaps a Hebrew grammar a few years later. Between 1540 and 1547 Samuel Sarfati, Isaac b. Immanuel de Lattes in partnership with Benjamin b. Joseph d'Arignano, and Solomon b. Isaac of Lisbon printed a number of works with Antonio Bladao. Among them were Hebrew grammars by David ibn Yaḥya, then rabbi in Naples, and David Kimḥi: the Mahalakh; responsa by Nissim b. Reuben Gerondi, and smaller works. Between 1578 and 1581, Francesco Zanetti, with the help of Levita's baptized grandson Giovanni Battista *Eliano, printed editions of Genesis, the Five Scrolls, and Psalms. Owing to the reactionary atmosphere which henceforth prevailed in Rome in the 17th century, only some missionary tracts in Hebrew were printed in Rome, and in 1773 a Psalter for non-Jewish use with an Italian translation by Ceruti.
A few days after the Germans occupied Rome on September 9–10, 1943, ss Chief Heinrich *Himmler ordered immediate preparations for the arrest and deportation of all Jews in Rome and the vicinity – more than 10,000 persons. As a first step, ss Major (soon to be Lieutenant Colonel) Herbert Kappler, the ss commanding officer in Rome, demanded 50 kilograms of gold from the Jewish community on September 26, to be paid within 36 hours. Otherwise, he informed the community, 200 Jews would be arrested and deported to Germany. The Jews collected the gold, with some help from sympathetic non-Jews, and delivered it on time. Nevertheless, a special German police force broke into the offices of the Jewish community on September 29 and looted the ancient and contemporary archives, seizing, among other things, lists of members and contributors. On October 13, the Germans returned to loot the priceless libraries of the community and the rabbinical college.
Most Roman Jews were still not alarmed enough to go into hiding. Many were confident that the presence of the pope in the city would protect them, since the Germans would not dare take anti-Jewish actions under his windows. Moreover, the Jews lacked any precise information about Nazi death camps. Although they listened illegally to the bbc, it did not broadcast any specific news on that subject. The Jews also believed that the ongoing diplomatic discussions of Rome's status as an open city would save them from hostile Nazi actions.
On October 16, 1943, German ss police under Kappler and ss Captain Theodor Dannecker launched a massive roundup of the Jews of Rome. Provided with carefully prepared lists of names and addresses, the police made house-to-house searches throughout the city and arrested all the Jews they could find. Some of the non-Jewish population helped Jews escape, but 1,259 men, women, and children were nevertheless caught and held for two days at the Collegio Militare in Lungara Street. About 252 of them were released because they were the children or spouses of mixed marriages, foreigners from neutral countries, or non-Jews arrested by mistake. The remaining 1,007 Jews were deported to Auschwitz on October 18. Only 17 of them survived.
On the morning of October 16, Pope *Pius xii received Princess Enza Pignatelli, who informed him of the ongoing roundup. He immediately asked the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Luigi Maglione to summon the German ambassador to the Holy See, Ernst von Weizsaecker. Maglione met with the ambassador that same day and asked him to stop the arrests of Jews in order that the pope not be obliged to protest. The ambassador replied that for the sake of good relations between Germany and the Holy See, he preferred not to convey Maglione and the pope's threat of a protest to Berlin. Maglione accepted this. Jews continued to be arrested and deported. Pius xii never protested publicly.
Between October 16, 1943, and June 4, 1944, the day of the liberation of Rome, the methodical roundup of Jews hiding in the homes of non-Jewish friends or in Catholic institutions continued. In this latter period, perhaps as many as 1,200 additional Jews were caught and deported to Auschwitz, where most of them died. Another 75 Jews were among the 335 prisoners executed in the Fosse Ardeatine, outside Rome, as a German reprisal measure for an Italian partisan action in the via Rasella on March 23, 1944, in which 33 German soldiers were killed.
Some 4,000 individual Jews are believed to have hidden in Catholic institutions in Rome, including Vatican properties. A small number were sheltered behind the walls of Vatican City itself. There is no evidence that Pius xii or his chief advisors gave instructions for this rescue effort, or even knew its extent.
[Daniel Carpi /
Sergio Itzhak Minerbi (2nd ed.)]
When the Allies entered Rome on June 5, 1944, the Jewish population numbered 11,000. That same day a solemn prayer that united the Roman Jews who had survived a year of terror and the Jews serving in the U.S. 5th Army, was led by Rabbi David Panzieri in the small synagogue of the Tiberine Island, which had been used clandestinely during the German occupation. An unknown future faced the community. The chief rabbi, Italo *Zolli, who had abandoned his flock during the war to find a haven in the Vatican, converted to Catholicism. Only in 1946 did Rabbi David *Prato take the place of the apostate rabbi. Under his firm leadership the Jewish community of Rome could look to a better future. Moreover, Jewish units from Palestine assisted the community. Rabbi Prato sponsored a moving ceremony the day the State of Israel was proclaimed on May 14, 1948, under the Arch of Titus. From that moment on, for the Jews to pass under the arch that symbolized the Diaspora was no longer a humiliation. In the following years the community grew due mainly to the natural increase. In 1953 Elio Toaff succeeded Prato as chief rabbi of Rome and Italy. From 1956 to 1967, after the *Six-Day War, about 3,000 Jews arrived from Libya. Some of them subsequently immigrated to Israel but the majority was absorbed by the community. In 1965 the Jewish community reached a total of 12,928 (out of a total of 2,500,000 inhabitants).
The geographic distribution of the community is still influenced by the continued existence of the traditional ghetto in the S. Angelo district and adjoining parts of the city, although there is a growing movement to the outlying residential areas. The community of Rome is the only one in Italy that shows a demographic increase, with a fertility rate not far below that of the Italian population as a whole, a fairly high marriage rate, and a limited proportion of mixed marriages. Occupational changes from the traditional fields to new technical specializations and to the free professions were rather slow but by the year 2000 it could be considered accomplished. A very serious episode of antisemitism darkened the life of the community on October 19, 1982, when Palestinian terrorists opened fire on worshipers leaving the Great Synagogue. A child, Stefano Tache, was killed and others were wounded. On April 13, 1986, Pope *John Paul ii visited the Great Synagogue, and was welcomed by Chief Rabbi Toaff.
In the early 21st century the community numbered about 18,000 Jews, still tied by strong bonds of affection to Jewish traditions. The chief rabbi of Rome and Italy was Riccardo Di Segni. Apart from the Great Synagogue of Italian rite, the Lungotevere Cenci houses a Sephardi synagogue and the Jewish Museum, and there are another two prayer houses of Italian rite, one on the Tiberine Island, the other, the Oratorio Di Castro, in Via Balbo. An Ashkenazi synagogue is located in the same building. Among the Jewish institutions there is a kindergarten, the Vittorio Polacco elementary school, and a high school. There are many relief organizations, the Pitigliani orphanage, a Jewish hospital, and a home for invalids. Rome is the seat of the chief rabbinate of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities (ucei), and of the Italian Rabbinical College. The following Jewish journals are published: Israel, Shalom, Karnenu, Portico d'Ottavia.
[Sergio DellaPergola /
Samuele Rocca (2nd ed.)]
The standard authority on the history of the Jews in Rome is H. Vogelstein and P. Rieger, Geschichte der Juden in Rom, 2 vols. (1895–96); on the classical period, H.J. Leon, Jews of Ancient Rome (1960). The catacomb inscriptions are scientifically edited in Frey, Corpus, 1 (1936). Several subsidiary studies by A. Milano on the ghetto period are reprinted in his Il Ghetto di Roma (1964), cf. also Gregorovius, The Ghetto and the Jews of Rome (1948). For the Roman Jewish dialect, see A. Milano, Il Ghetto di Roma and C. del Monte, Sonetti guidaico-romaneschi (1927). For the period 700–1100 the fullest authority is now Roth, Dark Ages. For the Jewish monuments of Rome, see E. Loevinson, Roma israelitica (1927); B. Postal, Landmarks of a People (1962). For the background of Italian Jewish history, Roth, Italy (also Heb. tr.), Milano, Italia, and L. Poliakov, Les Banchieri juifs et le Saint-Siège du xiiie au xviie siècle (1965). For the full literature of Roman Jewish history, see Milano, Bibliotheca… and Supplements, index. Other works on the subject include: M. Lowenthal, A World Passed by… (1938); Geller, Roma Ebraica – Jewish Rome (1970); C. del Montè, Nuovi sonetti giudaico-romaneschi (1933); idem, Sonetti postumi giudaico-romaneschi e romaneschi (1955). in talmudic literature: M. Sachs, Beitraege zur Sprach-und Altertumsforschung, 2 (1854), 134ff.; W. Bacher, in: mgwj, 20 (1871), 226f.; idem, in: rej, 33 (1896), 187–96; H.L. Reich, Zur Genesis des Talmud. Der Talmud und die Roemer; Culturhistorische Studie (18932); M. Gruenbaum, Gesammelte Aufsaetze zur Sprachund Sagenkunde (1901), 169–74; A. Kurrein, Judaea und Rom (1901); T. Reinach, in: rej, 47 (1903), 172–8; I. Ziegler, Die Koenigsgleichnisse des Midrasch (1903); L. Hahn, Rom und Romanismus im griechisch-roemischen Osten (1906); S. Krauss, Monumenta Talmudica, 5 pt. 1: Greichen und Roemer (1914); idem, Paras ve-Romi ba-Talmud u-ba-Midrashim (1948); R. Rieger, in: jqr, 16 (1925/26), 227–35; M. Hadas, in: Philological Quarterly, 8 (1929), 369–87; idem, in: Classical Philology, 24 (1929), 258ff.; N. Wasser, Die Stellung der Juden gegenueber den Roemern (1933); J. Bergman, in: Sefer Klausner (1937), 150–2; Ginzberg, Legends, index s.v.Rome, Roman Empire, Romans; H.M.J. Loewe, Render unto Caesar (1940); J.W. Swain, in: Classical Philology, 35 (1940), 1–21; S. Lieberman, Greek in Jewish Palestine (1942), index; idem, Hellenism in Jewish Palestine (1950), index; idem, in: jqr, 35 (1944/45), 1–57; Allon, Toledot, index s.v.Romi; idem, in: Scripta Hierosolymitana, 7 (1961), 53–78; I. Heinemann, Darkhei ha-Aggadah (19542), index; H. Fuchs, Der geistige Widerstand gegen Rom in der antiken Welt (19642); N.N. Glatzer, in: Politische Ordnung und menschliche Existenz; Festgabe E. Voegelin (1962), 243–57; B. Cohen, Jewish and Roman Law (1966); E.E. Urbach, Ḥazal; Pirkei Emunot ve-De'ot (1963), index s.v.Romi, Romiyyim; A.H. Cutler, in: jsos, 31 (1969), 275–85; M.D. Herr, in: Scripta Hierosolymitana, 21 (1971). hebrew printing: A. Freimann, in: J. Freimann… Festschrift (1937), 121ff.; H.D. Friedberg, Toledot ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Italyah (19562), 9ff.; Habermann, in: ks, 12 (1935/36), 125ff. holocaust period: R. Katz, Death in Rome (1967); S. Friedlaender, Pius xii and the Third Reich; a Documentation (1966); M. Tagliacozzo, in: Yalkut Moreshet, no. 10 (1969), 55–59, Eng. summ. and bibl.; A. Foa, ibid., 60–71; R. Surano, ibid., 72–78, Eng. summ.; Comunità Israelitica di Roma (ed.), Ottobre 1943: Cronaca di una infamia (pamphlet printed in 1961); A. Ascarelli, Le fosse Ardeatine (1945); G. Debenedetti, 16 ottobre 1943 (1945, 19612); R. Leiber S.J., "Pio xii e gli ebrei di Roma, 1943–1944," in: La Civiltà Cattolica, anno 112 (1961), vol. i, quad. 2657 (March 4, 1961), 449–58. add. bibliography: D. Di Castro (ed.), Arteebraica a Roma e nel Lazio (1994); S. Frascati, Un'iscrizione giudaica dale catacombe di villa Torlonia, in: Rivista di Archeologia Cristiana 65 (1989), 135–142; P. Galterio and M. Vitale, "La presenza ebraica a Roma dalle origini all'impero," in: Arte ebraica a Roma e nel Lazio (1994), 15–48; J. Goodnick Westenholz (ed.), The Jewish Presence in Ancient Rome, (Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem, 1994); A. Konikoff, Sarcophagi from the Jewish Catacombs of Ancient Rome (1990); D. Noy, Jewish Inscriptions of Western Europe 2, The City of Rome (1995); P. Richardson, "Early Synagogues as Collegia in the Diaspora and Palestine," in: J.S. Kloppenborg and S.G. Wilson, Voluntary Associations in the Graeco-Roman World (1996), 90–109; L.V. Rutgers, "The Jewish Catacombs of Rome Reconsidered," in: wcjs, 10 (1990), 29–36; idem, The Jews in Late Ancient Rome: Evidence of Cultural Interaction in the Roman Diaspora, Religions in the Graeco-Roman World, vol. 126 (1995). F. Coen, 16 ottobre 1943: La grande razzia degli ebrei di Roma (1993); R. Katz, Black Sabbath: A Journey Through a Crime Against Humanity (1969); M. Tagliacozzo, "La Comunità di Roma sotto l'incubo della svastica: La grande razzia del 16 ottobre 1943," in: Gli Ebrei in Italia durante il fascismo: Quaderni del Centro di Documentazione Ebraica Contemporanea, 3 (November 1963), 8–37; S. Zuccotti, Under His Very Windows: The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy (2000).
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"Rome." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved February 20, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/rome
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