ROVIGO , capital of Rovigo province, N. Italy, Veneto, and of Polesine, agricultural district coextensive with the province. The presence of Jews in Rovigo from the latter part of the 13th century is attested in the municipal statutes (1227–1429) against "fornicatione inter Judaeum et Christianam." Their numbers increased as the local agricultural economy developed commercial and industrial activity. In 1386 a group of Jews are mentioned at Lendinara, who were placed in charge of collecting the municipal taxes. The Rovigo municipality invited Salomon, son of Musetto of Judaea, and the brothers Alvicio and Emanuele, sons of Musetto of Bologna to open a loan bank in the town in 1391 with the authorization of the Este, the Dukes of Ferrara. A Jew named Consiglio, possibly an ancestor of the prominent Consiglio family of Rovigo, is mentioned at Badia Polesine in 1425.
The position of the Jews did not change after Rovigo was annexed by Venice in 1484. The loan bank at Rovigo became the property of the Consiglio family with which the Venetian republic renewed the contract every five years. Other members of the community, who had at first been largely connected with the loan bank, later engaged in other activities. The bank, however, retained its supremacy in both the economic and communal spheres of community life. Even when in 1508 the first *Monte di Pieta' was opened, the banking activities continued. A celebrated controversy arose in Rovigo in 1594 in connection with the local mikveh. The rabbi was then Avtaylon Consiglio. In 1594 Jekuthiel Consiglio built a mikveh in his house the ritual validity of which was questioned. The problem was submitted to various rabbis both in Italy and abroad, entire volumes being devoted to their discussions. Officially, the Jews were restricted to dealing in secondhand clothing. A report by the mayor to the Venetian senate in 1572 indicates the impoverished state of the local Jews which had also led to a split in the community; the rich members were anxious to monopolize the leadership while the poor members wanted a representative system irrespective of economic status.
Orders to set up a ghetto in Rovigo were issued in 1612, and implemented in 1615, only the loan bankers and their families being permitted to reside outside it. There were 17 Jewish families living in Rovigo in 1617. The destruction of a synagogue was ordered in 1629 because it was situated in the vicinity of a church.
In the 18th century the Jews played an important part in developing the wool industry in the Polesine region. At least three Jewish firms were engaged in this industry in Rovigo in the middle of the 18th century, owned by Moise' Luzzatto, Marco Consigli, and Moise' D'Ancona. Frequent attempts to oust them were made by Christian competitors, mainly from Padua. There were about 230 Jewish residents in 1785. The congregation celebrated a local Purim (Purim Katan), or Purim of the Fire, in memory of escape from fire in the 18th century and a fast to commemorate the desecration of the synagogue and pillaging of Jewish houses by hooligans in 1809.
With the French occupation in 1797, the Jews received equal civil rights. However, under French and Austrian rule the economic situation throughout the Polesine was poor. The Jewish population of Rovigo increased in 1823, when Jews immigrated to Rovigo from the Papal States, after Leo xiii's new restrictions. Reactionary tendencies persisted and in 1857 a *blood libel charge was brought against a Jew, Calimano Ravenna at Badia Polesine. Rovigo Jews took an important part in the Italian Risorgimento's wars. From 1848 to 1849 six Jews volunteered. In 1859 22 Jews volunteered to serve in the Piedmontese Army, the largest number from all the Italian communities, including the Kingdom of Sardinia! Giacomo Levi Civita fought with Garibaldi in 1866, and later he was appointed senator in the Italian Parliament. The Jewish population reached its peak in 1870, when 430 Jews lived in Rovigo. Around 450 Jews lived in Rovigo and Polesine together in 1886. The community had four charitable associations: Gemilut Ḥasadim, Shomer la-Boker, Malbish Arumim, and Le-Hasi Betulah.
By 1930, the numbers had dwindled to 100 and it was amalgamated with the *Padua community. The same year, in a rebuilding project for the town center, work was begun on demolition of the ghetto and the synagogue, which had been restored in 1858. The Ark, the floors, and marble were used for a new synagogue. With the German occupation in 1943, most of the members of the Jewish community managed to find safe haven; however two community members were deported.
C. Roth, Venice (1930), index; Roth, Italy, index; Milano, Italia, index; Milano, Bibliotheca, index; idem, in: rmi, 33 (1967), 211–2, and 8 illustrations; F. Luzzatto, ibid., 6 (1932), 509–25; G. Bachi, ibid., 12 (1938), 218–9, 300; R. Cessi, Gli ebrei el il commercio della lana in Rovigo nel secolo 18 (1906); M.A. Shulvass, in: Sinai, 20 (1947), 198–205; A. Yaari, ibid., 34 (1954), 367–74; S.J. Sierra, in: Scritti Bedarida (1966), 271–81; J. Pinkerfeld, Battei Keneset be-Italyah (1954), 21, and tables 24–26. add. bibliography: F. Brandes, Veneto Jewish Itineraries, Venice (1996), 92–97.
[Alfredo Mordechai Rabello /
Samuele Rocca (2nd ed.)]