Jewish Community of Trieste
The Jewish Community of Trieste represents the organizational structure of the association of Jewish people living in
Trieste. The organization was established in order to provide for the needs of the Jewish community, and to etablish a statute and appropriate guidelines.
The oldest official document available mentioning a Jewish settlement in
Triestegoes back to the year 1236 and it is composed of a notarial deed that mentions an economic transaction made by a certain "Bishop Giovanni": he paid 500 'marche' to the Jew"Daniel David", who had spent them to fight thieves on the Carso.
Triestewas annexed to Austriain 1382, Jewish people from Germany, some subjects to the Austrian Dukes while others to local princes, came to live in Italy. Lacking synagogue and legal recognition, the small AshkenazicJewish community held services in a private home from the 15th century. From 1684 to 1785 the authorities ordered the construction of a Ghettoand the compulsory residence there. However, after the first Jewish public Synagoguewas built, the Jews from Triestefelt the need to give a constitution to their Community; therefore the evening of the 14th of December 1746, the Chiefs called a meeting of the "particolari", that is the heads of families who contributed to the exepenses of the Community.
On the 19th April 1771, Maria Theresa granted two Sovereign Licenses to the Jews of
Trieste, licenses that constitute real regulations. In 1782, with the famous Edict of Tolerance, Joseph II admitted the Jews to some charges in the Stock Exchangeand to other liberal professions. A year later the Jewish primary school was opened with the name of "Scuole Pie Normali Israelitiche". The following year, in 1784, the gates of the Ghettowere opened so that the Jews of Triestecould live together with their fellow citizens of different religions; however most of them continued to live in the Ghetto. Indeed, after a short occupation of the French in 1797, they began to build two new Synagoguesin the street of the Jewish schools, but they were demolished during the first quarter of the century when the Old Town was destroyed.
In the 19th century the Jews of
Triestebecome more and more important in various fields such as Humanities, Industry, and Commerce, and they also gradually grew in number.
Jews became pioneers in the realms of banking, commerce, and insurance that drove the city's spectacular growth. They held prominent political positions, established important firms and founded or were leading figures in insurance companies such as
Assicurazioni Generali, "RAS" and "Lloyd Adriatico". Several local Jewish families were even raised to the Hapsburg nobility. Importantly, too, the Trieste Jewish community produced towering cultural figures such as the writer Italo Svevoand poet Umberto Saba, both of whom today are commemorated with busts in the city's Public Gardens.
One of Jewish
Trieste's most illustrious sons, Rabbi Professor Samuel David Luzzatto, (1800-1865) known as the Shadal, was a philosopher, poet, Bible scholar and translator. He directed the newly established rabbinical seminary, Collegio Rabbinico in Padua. His scholarship combined the deep erudition of the medieval rabbis with the newer trends in Judaic scholarship emanating from the enlightened Haskalahcircles of northern Europe. He was a master of Hebrew philology and translated the Bibleinto Italian. His literary circle included Hebrew poets, such as his cousin Rachel Morpurgo— whose sonnets, elegies and wedding poems in the style of the Spanish Hebrew religious poets and the Italian Renaissancerelated mostly to family and biographical incidents.
TriesteJews were not of Italian origin, they rallied to the unification of Italy. The peace settlement brought Triesteinto the Kingdom of Italy in 1919. Immigration swelled Jewish numbers to 6,000; Jews were prominent in the city’s economy and assimilation spread unchecked. In 1910, the affluent Triestekehillah approved the construction of the Great Synagogue of Trieste. Designed by the Christian architect, Ruggero and Arduino Berlam, its plan followed the trend of other central European communities in a style reminiscent of Middle Eastern buildings, ancient and modern.
In 1938 the Fascist and racist legislation was introduced in
Italyand in 1940 there were some attacks against the Jews. In reaction to the school and job discriminations enacted in 1938, the kehillah opened a private secondary school, which operated until 1943, when the Germans took direct control of the city. The Nazi threat prompted those with means to try to escape. By 1940, half of the city’s Jews had left the city, although some chose to convert. Italian Fascists desecrated the synagogue in 1942. During the Shoah( Holocaust) the Nazis made round-ups against the Jews on the 19th October 1943 and the 29th January 1944; in the latter the target were the old and sick people living in the old people's homes of Trieste, including the Jewish one. Triestewas one of the major European ports of embarkation in the mass emigration to the Americas in the last part of the 19th century. With the approach of the Second World War, it was the Gateway to Zion, an emergency exit for Jews leaving Europe for Israel. Two ships operated on the Trieste- Haifaroute. The Jewish captain, Umberto Steindlerof the Jerusalemboasted over one hundred trips to Palestinebetween the world wars. After being turned back to its homeport because of the outbreak of war, the Jerusalemweighed anchor once again on September 1, 1939, and arrived in Haifawith 600 Jewish immigrants.
After World War II around 1,500 Jews remained in
Trieste, they restored the Synagogue and renewed Jewish communal institutions; in 1965 the number lowered to 1,052 out of 280,000 inhabitants. This drop was mostly due to a lack of balance between death and birth rates. Today the Jewish Community counts about 600 members.
Italo Svevo, born "Ettore Schmitz", the author of The Confessions of Zeno, studied English with James Joyce, the great Irish writer who made Triestehis home for a number of years. His background reflected the cosmopolitan, shifting identity so typical of Trieste. He was born into a Jewish family in 1861 and worked most of his life as a clerk. His mother was Italian and his father Austrian, and he himself converted to Catholicism. His works, too, reflect a deep interest in emerging fields of psychoanalysis and self-examination. Angelo Vivantewas a historian, publicist and socialist politician. He was one of the foremost advocates of Austromarxism. He rejected both Italian irredentism and Pan-Slavic nationalism, and called for a peaceful co-existence of different nationalities within a federalized Austro-Hungarian Empire. Ernesto Nathan Rogerswas a famous architect. Umberto Saba(original surname "Poli"), was an Italian poet noted for his simple, lyrical autobiographical poems. Saba was raised by his Jewish mother in the ghetto of Triesteafter his Christianfather deserted them when Saba was an infant.The racial laws, the second world war and the Nazi occupation in Triesteforced him to leave the "ancient and modern Bookstore" that he had opened in Trieste; it was sheltered first to Paris, then in Rome, where it was hidden in the Ungaretti house, to Florenceand Milan.After the war he returned in his city and it got numerous recognitions, what the Viareggio Prize(1946), and the "Prize of the academy of the Linceis" (1953). Fabio Cusinwas a historian and left-wing intellectual. He opposed Italian nationalism and centralizem and was one of the main supporters of the Free Territory of Triesteamong Triestine intellectuals.
Several museums in
Triesteshed further light on local Jewish culture and history.
The Museum of the Jewish Community of Trieste "Carlo e Vera Wagner" (Via del Monte, 5, Telephone: +39.040.633819, Fax: +39.040.371226) was opened in 1993 in a building that used to house a small synagogue. Currently the museum holds many objects of Jewish ritual art belonging to Community, collected partly as a result of the dismantlement of the three Synagogues (or 'Scole') of
Triesteafter the inauguration of the greatest Temple. The collections are made up of objects in silver, various fabrics, documents and books that testify of Jewish family life and Synagogue rituals. The museum consists of varied spaces, insides and outside.
The Morpurgo Municipal Museum (via Imbriani, 5 tel. 040636969) occupies a huge apartment in the mansion built in 1875 by the Christian architect
Giovanni Berlamfor the brothers Carlo Marco and Giacomo Morpurgoand their families. It presents a fascinating picture of how Trieste's upper crust of magnates and financiers lived. The Morpurgo brothers were born in Gorizia, north of Trieste, and were the sons of a man who was the caretaker of Gorizia's synagogue and a kosher butcher. Born in 1827, Carlo Marco Morpurgobecame a banker, financier and businessman who eventually was knighted by the Habsburgsin 1869. The museum includes room after room whose opulent furnishings bear witness to the wealth, taste and luxurious lifestyle of the family -- a sort of 19th century version of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. The Hall of Music is particularly remarkable. Risiera di San SabbaCivic Museum
The old cemetery was created in 1446, when
Michael Norimbergabought a vineyard to make a cemetery for himself and his coreligionists. The Jews from Triesteburied their dead there for four centuries. In the middle of the nineteenth century the cemetery became too small, so it was extended until it reached the slopes under the Castle of S. Giusto. In 1843 a new Jewish cemetery was built near the Catholic cemetery of Sant'Anna.
History of the Jews in Slovenia
* [http://www.triestebraica.it/ Jewish Community of Trieste Official Website] it icon
* [http://www.jewishitaly.org/city.asp?citymenu=Trieste Jewish Trieste] en icon
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