Tags / Livorno
Livorno is considered the most modern of all the towns of the Tuscany region. It has the biggest port of the region and it is the most populated coastal town. The emblem of the town is the monument of the four “mori” - pirates - a famous sculpture that represents dark-skinned pirates constricted by chains at
the feet of the Grand Duke Ferdinando I. The artwork has been realized during the time in which the town was enhanced itself as cosmopolitan town, through establishment of rules that allows the town to welcome with open arms Jewish people banished from Spain and Portugal. The story of Jewish people living in Livorno starts since that moment. Historical tradition of Livorno and Jewish culture are merged permanently until nowadays and Livorno is defined as the town of Judaism. It was held by Jew family the memorable bookshop and the publishing house named Belforte. Typical dishes the “roschette”,
caucciucco(fish stew) and the Livorno-style mullet are of the Sephardic tradition.
Like the typical words as “sciagattato” – ruined, and “gadollo” - fat or “gavinoso” – funny, which are picked up from the Bagitto and Hebrew dialect and still in use today . Jew was the Mayor of the prefascist town of Livorno, the Socialist Umberto Mondolfi. The list is including religious citizens like Rabbis Elia Benamozegh – was the Rabbi of Livorno for 50 years, Rabbi Sabato Morais and Alfredo Toaff, famous people like the philanthropist Moses Montefiore, sages and intellectuals like Attias, D'Ancona and Enriques, famous painters like Tivoli, Corcos and of course Amedeo Modigliani. These are only few
famous names of the entire Jewish community of Livorno. Livorno is housing of an old Sephardic Synagogue, considered one of the biggest and beautiful Synagogue around the world, it was built in 1591 but seriously damaged by the American bombing in 1945, then it became the goal of several raids during
the last time of second WW, and this led to a complete destruction of the Synagogue itself. The works for the new Synagogue committed to the architect Mr. Angelo di Castro started at the beginning of the sixties, a building of reinforced concrete inspired by the tabernacle (sanctuary tent) that accompanied the Jewish along the desert during the exodus- the new Synagogue has a modern style that it is not well accepted among the Jewish community of Livorno. Whatever, the young Rav Yair Didi religious leader of the community and well known and respected personality in the city is suggesting to not look the outside but the inside of the Synagogue. next to the synagogue is the center or the house of the Jewish community, there is the archive of the community,400 years of documents written in Portuguese, Italian or Hebrew. But the real oral memory is Gabriele Bedarida. He is keeping memories of what was the Jewish Livorno in the past. In the 1938, during the fascism period, before that the King enacted racial laws more than 1500 Jewish people lived in Livorno. More than 120 Jewish people of Livorno were wiped out in the Nazi concentration camps. Many of the people in the Jewish community of Livorno were rescued in the Nazi search, fleeing to the bush, hiding kids in convents, in religious colleges, or finding shelter by antiNazi friends. By the end of the WW II the Jewish community of Livorno had less than 1000 people.
Today there are around 600 Jewish people registered as Jewish community of Livorno, that leads, the community of Livorno to be considered one of the most important Jewish community in Italy after the one in Rome. But the Jewish community of Livorno is an old and aged community with no turnover. The last migration of Sephardic Jews in Livorno is dated to 1967 when due to the six days war many Jews abandoned Arab countries and part arrived in Livorno. Mainly people from the Bengasi community in Libya decided for moving to Livorno. Today the majority of the Jewish community of Livorno is made up by older people with only few young that rarely participate to the life of the community. There are around 70 Jewish people in Livorno that actively attend Jewish liturgies such as Shabbat and even more than 400 persons during Pesach or Yom Kippur. In the last three years 6 young Jews decided to leave Italy to
flee to Israel for aliyah. In the city center and in the market many shops are still run by Jew families: like the Disegni, Zarrugh, Doha, Modigliani, Bueno and Lombardo are some of the common names. On the other hand the Jewish school closed during the fascism has never been reopened and the same destiny
has occurred to the Jewish hospital and after a while to the old cemetery. There is no any Israeli restaurant in Livorno , the last running was closed four years ago. There is a bakery that works under Jewish rules producing bread without milk or animal fat/lard. There is also a kosher batcher that supplies
kosher meet to members of the Jewish community of Livorno. There is a Jewish museum, located in Villa Marini belonged to Marini family until 1867,was used as a synagogue until the new synagogue was open and on 1992 opened as a museum. the small collection is including a Hechal(temple) of the XVI
century,shofar,tallit on the wall are old marriage agreements.
There is an old cemetery closed and in a state of completely decay. The new cemetery is in use and located in the north of the city and it is near the general cemetery. In the new cemetery are the grave of Modeliani family and two memory boards one perpetuates the Jewish people that died during First World War and the other perpetuates the victims of the holocaust.
The town of Livorno once welcomed with open arms Jews banished from Spain and Portugal. The historical traditions of Livorno and Jewish cultures are still merged to this day, evident by typical dishes such as the “roschette”, “caucciucco” (fish stew) and the Livorno-style mullet, all of which are of the Sephardi tradition.
Livorno is home to an old Sephardi Synagogue that was built in 1591 but seriously damaged by American bombing in 1945. The construction of a new Synagogue was initiated by architect Angelo di Castro at the beginning of the 1960s. The original building was comprised of reinforced concrete inspired by the tabernacle (sanctuary tent) that accompanied the Jewish peoples along the desert during the exodus. The new Synagogue has a modern style that it is not accepted by all the Jewish community of Livorno. Although externally modern, inside the synagogue and the center of the Jewish community adjacent to it is a dedication to the Jewish history of Italy. Both buildings host over 400 years worth of documents written in Portuguese, Italian or Hebrew.
Today there are around 600 Jewish people registered as residents in Livorno. During the Arab-Israeli war the Jews of Libya’s second largest city of Benghazi also headed to find sanctuary in the Italian province. There has also been an exodus of young Jews leaving Livorno for Israel.
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Article Written by : Enrico Catassi & Raffaele Palumbo
In Livorno, Italy, of the four Jewish cemeteries only this one is still active and has been since 1939.
In this cemetery there are plaques commemorating the Jewish who perished in WWI and the Holocaust.
Jewish gravestones located at the old Jewish cemetery in Via Corallo, Livorno, Italy.
The Jewish cemetery located at Via Corallo which is no longer in use, this cemetery was in use from 1739 until 1939.
The Jewish museum, Livorno,Italy.
Among the small collection there are candlesticks, tefillin, mezuzah.
In this photograph one can see (in the center) the hechal (a closet which contains the Torah scrolls) which date back to the 16 century. On both sides are displays of Jewish artifacts.
The museum is located in Villa Marini and has been open to the public since 1992.
Gabriele Bedarida searches for Hebrew written documents in the archive of the Jewish community located in Livorno, Italy.
Rabbi Yair Didi of Livorno, Italy (on left) and
Gabriele Bedarida searching for Hebrew written documents in the Jewish community archive located in
In the Jewish community of Livorno,
Gabriele Bedarida holds a book containing documents, in Hebrew, related to the history of the Jewish community of Livorno, Italy.
Yair Didi ,the Rabbi of the Jewish community in Livorno, Italy, opens the faucet in the Mikveh (a bath used for ritual immersion in Judaism) located in the Jewish Community House next to the synagogue in Livorno, Italy.
A view from above of the synagogue in Livorno, Italy, during prayer.
Livorno, Italy, Rabbi Yair Didi, praying at the new synagogue.
Livorno, Italy, Rabbi Yair Didi praying in the Livorno synagogue.
One of the many lifelong customers shopping for bread at the only bakery that makes and sells kosher bread in Livorno, Italy.
The Jewish museum in Livorno,Italy.
Among the small collection, there are Jewish artifacts which include candlesticks, tefillin, mezuzah, and the hechal(a closet which contains the Torah scrolls) and more.
The museum is located in Villa Marini and which has been open to the public since 1992.