Jewish Heritage Europe

New(ish) Jewish heritage books in Italian

Old Jewish cemetery, Venice. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber
Old Jewish cemetery, Venice. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

For Italian speakers, two recent books highlight Jewish heritage in Italy.

“Andare per Ghetti e Giudecche,” by Anna Foa (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2014).

“Il cimitero ebraico in Italia: Storia e architettura di uno spazio identitario,” by  Andrea Morpurgo (Macerata: Quodlibet, 2012)

Foa is a wellknown Jewish historian, and her 126-page book, which inaugurates a new series by Il Mulino on “rediscovering Italy” combines history and tourism, taking readers to major Jewish centers such as Rome, Venice and Torino as well as to the vestiges of Jewish quarters in southern Italy, from which Jews were expelled centuries ago. Writes Simone Somekh in the English-language edition of the monthly Pagine Ebraiche:

“Andare per ghetti e giudecche” is the story of a minority that still plays a fundamental role in the Italian cultural, religious and historical heritage. A minority that has moved a lot from one place to another, often evolving, at times diminishing, at times growing, but never ceasing to exist.  Read full review

Morpurgo’s book on Jewish cemeteries in Italy is a more substantial exploration of the topic and also deals with Italian Jewish history and synagogue architecture in Italy. It contains many photographs, maps and other illustrations and discussion of cemetery history, layout and construction as well as the architectural, typology and symbolism of gravestones and larger monuments.