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The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia
Early Settlement in Rome.
Capital in ancient times of the Roman republic and empire; in modern times, of the papal dominions and of the kingdom of Italy. Jews have lived in Rome for over 2,000 years, longer than in any other European city. They originally went there from Alexandria, drawn by the lively commercial intercourse between those two cities. They may evenhave established a community there as early as the second pre-Christian century, for in the year 139 B.C. the pretor Hispanus issued a decree expelling all Jews who were not Italian citizens. During the last decades of the second century B.C., after the war between the Hasmonean brothers on one side and Cæsar and Pompey on the other, the Jewish community in Rome grew very rapidly. The Jews who were taken to Rome as prisoners were either ransomed by their coreligionists or set free by their Roman masters, who found their peculiar custom obnoxious. They settled as traders on the right bank of the Tiber, and thus originated the Jewish quarter in Rome.
The Jews identified themselves with Roman politics and exerted at times some influence at public meetings (Cicero, "Pro Flacco," ch. ). They maintained constant commercial relations with Palestine and paid the Temple tax in Jerusalem; for this reason they were greatly interested in the proceedings of Flaccus (see see DIASPORA; FISCUS JUDAICUS). Cæsar, on account of the assistance which the Jews had rendered him in his war with Pompey, showed his gratitude toward the Roman Jews by permitting them to hold public devotional exercises, otherwise not allowed in the city. Synagogues existed in Rome as early as the time of Augustus, as is evidenced by an enactment declaring their inviolability. The Jews were further favored in connection with the distribution of grain, for when the apportionment occurred on the Sabbath their share was reserved for them until the day following.
Expelled Under Tiberius.
The Jewish deputation which petitioned for the deposition of the royal house of the Idumeans was joined by 8,000 Jewish residents of Rome. Several Romans adopted Jewish customs, and some, as the rhetor Cilicius of Kalakte, a friend of Dionysius of Halicarnassus, even embraced Judaism (Müller, "Fragmenta Historicorum Græcorum," 3:331). The reign of Tiberius (until the removal of his minister Sejanus) was fraught with misfortune for the Jews. When the cult of Isis was driven out of Rome (19 C.E.) the Jews also were expelled, because a Roman lady who inclined toward Judaism had been deceived by Jewish swindlers. The synagogues were closed, the vessels burned, and 4,000 Jewish youths were sent upon military service to Sardinia. After the death of Sejanus (31) the emperor allowed the Jews to return.
The emperor Claudius was not unfavorably disposed toward the Roman Jews in the beginning of his reign, but in 49-50, in consequence of dissensions among them regarding the advent of the Messiah, they were forbidden to hold religious services. The leaders in the controversy, and many others of the Jewish citizens, left the city. A considerable number of Roman Jews who had become Christians received the apostle Paul in Puteoli (61) and Rome with due formalities (with regard, however, to Peter's sojourn in Rome, compare Jellinek, "B. H." 3:60 et seq., and Güdemann, "Gesch." 2:44 et seq.). Under Nero the Jews of Rome had a comparatively peaceful time, owing to the favorable attitude of the empress Poppæa Sabina; but this was followed by the terrible wars and the conquest of Judea under the emperors Vespasian and Titus. Judaism at Rome was now put on the footing of a privileged religion, instead of its adherents being treated as a separate nation, and the fiscus Judaicus was now levied for the benefit of the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus. A "procurator ad capitularia Judæorum" was empowered to collect this tax, and only those who had abandoned Judaism were exempt from paying it.
After the war the Jewish community in Rome increased rapidly; among the prominent Jews resident there at that time, besides Josephus, King Agrippa, and his sister Berenice, are said to have been members of the four families from which the De Rossi, the Degli Adolescentoli, the De Pomis, and the Degli Piatelli families are descended. The pressure of taxation rendered the condition of the Jews very unfavorable under Vespasian and Titus; and it grew worse through the increasing number of those who abandoned, or professed to abandon, Judaism to escape the payment of taxes. These defections at last became so numerous that the emperor Domitian, in the beginning of the tenth decade, found it necessary to adopt stringent measures. Every suspect was examined individually, and if the suspicions entertained were confirmed he was severely punished (Dio Cassius, 77:2). Among those sentenced to death or banishment for various reasons were the emperor's nephew Flavius Clemens and his wife Domitilla. Rabbis Gamaliel, Joshua, Eleazar, and Akiba preached in the synagogues in Rome during their brief stay, and engaged in disputes with the Judæo-Christians.
The Jews do not appear to have been affected by the severe decrees issued by Hadrian after the Jewish uprising. At this time there lived in Rome Theudas; who assisted in maintaining the teachers in Palestine and reintroduced the preparation of the paschal lamb among the Jewish communities of Rome. During a diplomatic visit which R. Simeon ben Yoḥai and R. Eleazar b. Jose made to Rome in the second century they preached in the synagogues upon halakic subjects, and they maintained intimate relations with R. Mattithiah ben Heresh, the founder of the Jewish seminary in Rome, himself from Palestine. Until the death of the last of the Antoninus, Commodus, the Jews suffered as much from the misfortunes that befell Rome as formerly they had benefited by its growth; especially severe in their effects upon the Jews were the famine, the flood, and the conflagration under Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. Under Commodus they suffered the consequences of a fire caused by an earthquake.
In 204 Septimius Severus issued an order against conversion either to Judaism or to Christianity. On the other hand, the edicts of Severus and Caracalla confirmed all native-born Jews in their rights; they might even fill government offices while adhering to their faith. Judaism became a privileged religion ("religio licita"). The condition of the Jews remained much the same under Elagabalus; Alexander Severus treated them so favorably that he was called derisively "archisynagogus."
Under the Christian Emperors.
A new era began with the reign of Constantine (312). This emperor, as soon as he had defeated hisadversary Maxentius, openly embraced Christianity. The institutions of the Roman Jews were not molested, but they were thenceforth regarded as citizens of the second class, as were the pagans. Of greater importance, however, was the prohibition against circumcising slaves. Constantine issued a decree forbidding marriage between Jews and Christians and making the violation of this order punishable with death. In the edicts issued by him the Jews are for the first time referred to as a "shameful" or "bestial" sect, "contemptible and perverse" ("secta nefaria" or "feralia"; "turpes"; "perversi"). Another turning-point in the history of the Roman Jewry came when the emperor Julian (the Apostate) ascended the throne. Though not inclining toward Judaism, he regarded it as superior to Christianity, and one of his first acts was to abolish the fiscus Judaicus, which had then existed for 300 years, thereby placing the Jews on an equal footing with other citizens. Julian's successor, Valentinian, freed the synagogues from the obligation of quartering soldiers; this, however, resulted in Bishop Philaster visiting Rome during his annual tour of inspection (middle of 4th cent.), when he preached in public and won several converts to the Christian faith. Emperor Gratian revoked (382) the decree releasing the Jews from filling the office of decurion (DIASPORA).
During the reign of Maximus (383-88), who courted the favor of the Christians, a tumult broke out against the Jews, one of their synagogues being totally destroyed (387). Maximus ordered the synagogue rebuilt at the expense of the state, but he was defeated and slain by Theodosius before his order could be carried out. The rule of Theodosius was not an unfavorable one for the Jews, inasmuch as they were placed under the protection of the civil law, and the poorer ones among them were exempted from service among the "navicularii," a body on which devolved the provisioning of the capital. On the other hand, two laws were enacted by Honorius which made it compulsory for the Jews to fill communal offices. In civil cases in which the Jewish disputants failed to reach an agreement they were obliged to submit their case to a Roman court; and Jews were not allowed to enter the state church merely to escape material liabilities. On April 22, 404, Honorius issued an edict in which he declared Jews and Samaritans unfit for military service; at the same time, at the request of the Roman Jews, he revoked the order forbidding the collection of money for the support of the patriarchal house.
The bishops in Rome in the meanwhile betrayed little anti-Jewish feeling. In the fifth century Pope Gelasius especially evinced a very unprejudiced spirit toward the Jews; among his immediate associates was Telesinus, the first Jew mentioned in a papal document, who, together with his family, was greatly favored by the bishop.
Theodoric the Great (493-526) showed himself very just toward the Jews. It is true that the former edicts against them remained in force and that they were not allowed to build any new synagogues in Rome; yet he held to the principle that no man ought to be forced to accept another religion against his conviction. In the same spirit he granted to the Jews certain privileges which placed them on an equal footing with the Romans and the Goths. During Theodoric's reign a terrible uprising took place in Rome, when some slaves who had murdered their Jewish masters, and who had been punished by the authorities, gained the sympathy of the mob, which attacked the Jews and set fire to a synagogue. The leaders of the disturbance were severely punished at the order of the emperor. There are also reports about a dissension between the Samaritans and the Christians, the former claiming a house which belonged to the latter. After the death of Theodoric war broke out anew in which the Jews sided with the Goths, who, however, were defeated.
Under the Early Popes.
From the latter part of the sixth century the popes were the real lords of Rome, and the Jews in the city, as well as in the whole country, were dependent on their attitude. Gregory I. (590-604) showed himself very just and mild toward them; he forbade the enactment of any unjust laws against them and decidedly opposed compulsory baptism. The following words appear for the first time in a letter written by him: "Just as the Jews in their communities may not be allowed any liberties beyond the measure allotted them by law, so must they, on the other hand, suffer no violation of their rights" ("S. Gregorii Epistula," 8:25, ed. Migne). These words afterward became the Magna Charta of the Jews (see Popes). In spite of the severity with which the pope proceeded against the slave-trade of the Jews—he even ordered that the slaves be taken from them by force—he was unable to abolish it. This was due to the fact that several of the Roman Jews who trafficked in slaves managed to evade the edicts by bribes and pretended baptism. During the regin of this pope the Roman Jews especially did much to assist their coreligionists in southern France and in Greece.
The centuries immediately following were dark and troublous ones for the Jews of Rome. The emperor Ludwig II. (855-75) is said to have issued an edict in 855 ordering all Italian Jews to leave the country before the 1st of October in that year. This order, however, was not carried into effect. A decade later the Bishop of Orta attempted to introduce a special Jewish dress, which, however, was forbidden by Pope Nicholas I. As to the reign of Pope John XII., sometimes called Octavian (955-964), and the coronation of Otto the Great see "Yosippon," ed. Breithaupt, 6:30.
During the following three hundred years the prosperity of the Roman Jews greatly increased, and is especially conspicuous when compared with the experiences of their coreligionists throughout the world during the same period. From the Crescentians and Tusculans on the throne of St. Peter they suffered comparatively little. In 1007 Jacob ben Jekuthiel went to Rome from Lorraine; he mentions a "bet din" which he found there, the president of which bore the title of "nasi." About fifteen years later (1021) a Jewish persecution took place in Rome. A violent earthquake had occurred, which some Greeks maintained was caused by a desecration of a picture of Jesus by the Jews in their synagogue. For that reason Benedict VIII. sentenced to death some Jews who had been pointed out as the chief offenders.
The Pierleoni Family.
At this time the Pierleoni family, the founder of which was a Jew, began to come into prominence; in the war between pope and emperor it sided with the former, and for a short time a member of the family held the papal office. Of the popes of the eleventh century special mention should be made of Nicholas II., who condemned the persecutions of the Jews, and who on several occasions expressed himself against compulsory baptism. According to a ceremonial instituted by Otto III., Jews and Christians were obliged to attend the entry into the city of a pope or an emperor, singing laudatory hymns; it is known that Pope Paschal II., Emperor Henry V., and Calixtus II. were thus received in Rome by them. The last-named issued a bull promising protection for the Jews, and this bull began with the introductory words of the edict issued by Gregory I., "Sicut Judæis non."
Internal Affairs; Visit of Abraham ibn Ezra.
Of the rabbis and teachers of the Roman community there exists only an incomplete list. Among the latter the most famous was Nathan ben Jehiel, who in 1088 established a ritual bath in Rome, and who, with his brother Abraham, erected a synagogue, which was completed in 1101. As the importance of the popes in the Christian world had increased with the growth of German influence, the Roman congregation had come to occupy an honored position in the Jewish world, and questions were addressed to it even from Paris (Luzzatto, "Bet ha-Oẓar," 1:57 et seq.). After the death of Honorius II., Cardinal Pierleoni ascended the papal throne as Anacletus II. In the struggle which ensued between him and his rivalInnocent II., the Jews of Rome sided with Anacletus. Bernard of Clairvaux urged against Pierleoni his Jewish descent; the pope was accused also of having been assisted by the Jews in robbing the Church and in realizing the value of the stolen goods. His successor, Innocent II., did not renew the protective bull of Calixtus II., nor did he curtail the rights of the Jews. It was during his reign and during the reigns of his immediate successors that Abraham ibn Ezra sojourned in Rome (until 1144); his presence in the city gave a new impetus to study, and the foremost men of the city, as Joab ben Solomon and Menahem ben Moses, attached themselves to him, the group thus formed being termed by contemporary scholars "the wise men of Rome" ("Sefer ha-Yashar," p. 549; "Or Zarua'," 2:52; Zunz, "Literaturgesch." p. 163).
Alexander III. occupied a peculiar position toward the Jews. When pressed for money he was very favorably disposed toward them, and Benjamin of Tudela tells how contented the Jews were under him. He had even a Jewish financial agent (a descendant of Jacob Jehiel), who filled his office very satisfactorily; to him was probably due the fact that the protective bull was renewed. But the pope showed himself in a different light at the Third Lateran Council, in 1179. He denounced especially, though in vain, the employment by Jews of Christian servants, and he prescribed severe sentences for nurses who entered the service of Jews. It was not allowed to repair the synagogues as long as they were not actually in danger of collapsing. Converts to Christianity might not be disinherited. To the most prominent representatives of the Roman Jewry at this period belonged, besides Jehiel, his cousins Daniel Joab and Menahem ben Judah; with the latter the Frenchman Joseph ben Pilat maintained a correspondence. At the head of the community stood Judah ben Moses.
Innocent III. and Gregory IX.
Innocent III., at the Fourth Lateran Council, in 1215, enacted that Jews and Mohammedans should wear see Badges, that they should not be permitted to hold public offices, and that they should sign a quitclaim for the interest on the loans furnished the Crusaders. Innocent's successor, Honorius III. (1216-1227), tore down the new synagogues in Rome. The pontificate of Gregory IX. greatly affected the Jewish community. His early decisions gave evidence of a deep hatred of the Jews; but he was reminded by a Jewish ambassador from France that there were Christians in heathen countries, and it was this consideration, perhaps, that led him to issue (April 4, 1233) a bull protecting the Jews. It seems that about this time a fast-day was instituted in Rome, for which occasion Bejamin ben Abraham Anam and Moses ben Abraham wrote some elegies ("Ḳobeẓ. 'al Yad," 4:6,17).
A Jewish source ("Codex Angelinus," p.7) relates that in the reign of Innocent IV. the Jews, in consequence of a drought which affected the whole district of Rome, were compelled to use imported tomatoes on Sukkot. During the reign of Alexander IV. (1254-61) Jewish names again appear in official documents, after an interval of 750 years. On Feb. 1, 1255, a papal order was issued granting certain commercial privileges to a Jewish merchant named Sabbatinus Museus Salaman, who is mentioned as the business associate of several Romans, and who stood in commercial relations with the Vatican; the privileges pertained to trading in the Papal States and in Sicily. The period following the death of Frederick II., when Germany was without an emperor, saw the rise of the Flagellants, whose activity was not without its influence on Judaism, especially upon the community of Rome, which thought that the Messianic time was at hand ("Monatsschrift," 39:239). These ideas gathered strength during the disturbances which attended the senatorial elections in Rome, in consequence of which Pope Alexander III. had been forced to leave the city forever.
Jewish Visitors to Rome.
A fire that broke out in the Jewish quarter, the Trastevere, on Sept. 26, 1268, destroyed one of theoldest synagogues and twenty-one Torah scrolls. On account of the large sums of money the Jews had loaned him, Charles of Anjou felt himself under obligation to protect the Jews from the injustice done them by Urban IV., Alexander's successor, who had issued (July 26, 1267) a bull, "Turbato Corde," extending the powers of the Inquisition. About this time, it appears, a tumult occurred in Rome which resulted in the destruction of the entire Jewish cemetery, and which has been recorded by Benjamin ben Abraham in his elegy ("Ḳobeẓ 'al Yad," 4:24). In 1272 Gregory X. confirmed the bull granting protection to the Jews, to which was added the clause that Christians should not be allowed to give testimony in Jewish lawsuits. It also insisted on the absurdity of the blood accusation. Pope Nicholas III., in a bull issued May 7, 1278, encouraged the Inquisition to proceed against converts. During the reign of this pope, Bonjudah (Bongoda or Biongoda) of Montpellier stayed for some time at Rome as special ambassador (Zunz, "Z. G." pp. 461, 465, 519; Neubauer, in "R. E. J." 9:56); singularly enough, the date of his death, Aug. 22, 1280, is mentioned in the Zohar (Jellinck, "B. H." 3:27 et seq.). The presence of the impostor Abraham ben Samuel Abulafia, whom the pope endeavored to convert, had no influence upon the Roman Jews. A decision with regard to a ritual question, the only one made in Rome in this early period and handed down, was rendered during the reign of this pope (Berliner, "Peleṭat Soferim," p. 9).
The pontificate of Nicholas IV. was of great importance to the Jews of Rome. When he found, through his physician Isaac ben Mordecai (Maestro Gajo), that the clergy of Rome treated the Jews with cruelty, violated their rights, and deprived them of their property, he interfered. The position which this physician occupied secured him great respect within his own community, and he used his influence to introduce the study of Maimonides in Rome. When the Maimonidean controversy broke out in France, the Roman community took such a lively interest in it that they sent R. Simḥah to France to procure a copy of Maimonides' commentary on the Mishnah. When Maimonides' grandson died, in 1299, the community sent a letter of condolence to Maimonides' son Abraham.
In the meantime Boniface VIII. had been elected pope (1294); and at the very outset of his pontificate he showed the scorn with which he regarded the Jews. When the latter appeared to do him homage they presented him with a scroll of the Torah as a mark of honor; but the pope immediately handed it back to them with expressions of aversion to the Jewish religion. This was the first sign of a reign of terror. Informers were encouraged, and great numbers of Jews were denounced to the Inquisition by unknown accusers. In one instance the rabbi of the community was burned at the stake under an accusation which would have involved the whole community had he not taken it entirely upon himself. Two elegies by unknown authors commemorate this martyr ("Ḳobeẓ 'al Yad," 4:30 et seq.). During the pontificate of Boniface VIII. the Jews were placed under the jurisdiction of the merchant gilds. Boniface was succeeded by Benedict XI. (1303) and Clement V. (1305); the last-named transferred his residence to France.
The Roman Ghetto.
The bulls issued in 1309, 1345, and 1402 (April 15) indicate in which parts of the city the Jews lived at these dates. Their quarter extended from the Piazza Giudea to the Piazza dei Savelli, and included the entire Vuga Judæorum (Jews' street) and the Platea Judæorum (Jews' square) as far as the Platea in Templo Judæorum (Jewish Temple Place), from which their street ran as far as the palace of Lucretius Cecchus de lo Mastro. Some resided in that part of Rome known as the Regio Ripa, but the greater number lived in the district of Trastevere, with the Porta Judæorum. The whole district inhabited by them was called the "Convicinum." The principal synagogue was situated in the neighborhood of the Church of St. Thomas, while most of the Jewish physicians lived in the Trastevere district, where the public medical and grammar schools were situated. On Feb. 8, 1310, the Senate granted the Jews a special privilege, whose provisions, however, are not known.
Receive the Emperor Henry VII.
About two years later, on May 7, 1312, the emperor Henry VII., hailed by all as the deliverer of Italy, made his entry into Rome. Illustrations depicting his reception by the Jews are preserved in the "Codex Balduini Trevirensis" (published by the Königliche Preussische Staatsarchiv, with text by Irmer, pp. 80 et seq., Berlin; 1881). On Henry's return from his coronation in the Lateran Basilica, on June 29, he was presented with a scroll of the Law by a delegation of Jews which had gone to meet him. Before his departure the emperor imposed a "coronation-tax" upon the whole city, but it was paid only by the Jews. The Jews of Rome were so wealthy that the financiers Beniamino Diodati and Abraham and Allencio Moyse, with their associates, were able to furnish 15,000 florins to the town of Montefiascone, which had to pay this sum to the city of Orvieto. In consideration of this, Orvieto admitted the Jews as full citizens and as representatives of the professions and the arts.
The important events of the years 1320-21 are narrated in three Jewish sources (see "Shebeṭ Yehudah," 14:37; Steinschneider, "Hebr. Bibl." 7:115; Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." 448, 1 [Todros ben Isaac's novellæ on Nazir]). According to all three sources a persecution took place in the summer of 1321, during the pontificate of John XXII., who ruled in Avignon. According to the first source it was instigated by Sanga, the pope's sister; she may, however, be identical with Sanctia, the wife of Robert of Naples. On June 18, 1321, the Jews sent a delegation to the pope, and on the same day a general fast was ordered. In Avignon the head of the delegation (possibly a descendant of the Bet-El family, and probably identical with the poet Joab) denied the charges that were made; yet the pope ordered the burning of the Talmud in Rome. The most influential and wealthy members of the community endeavored to prevent theexecution of this order, but without avail; the Talmud was publicly burned on the Feast of Shabu'ot, 1322. Not satisfied with this, the mob began a riot, during which R. Samuel (the father-in-law of the poet Immanuel of Rome) and others were murdered; the scenes enacted have been recorded by Immanuel in one of his poems (see "Monatsschrift," 1872, pp. 376 et seq.).
The entry into Rome on Jan. 7, 1328, of Louis the Bavarian preceded a levy on the city of a contribution of 30,000 gold florins, one-third of which was paid by the Jews.
In the fourteenth and the first half of the fifteenth century poetry and philosophy flourished in the community. Intercourse between Jewish and Christian scholars was, as a rule, unrestricted, and the Jews were generally protected throughout Roman territory. This, however, did not prevent bitter religious disputaions from taking place, which tended to excite mutual animosity. A Jewish source relates that an earthquake and a famine occurred in 1328 ("Codex Breslauer Seminar," 67:390b). In 1345 the principal Jewish quarter was visited by a disastrous flood.
Connection with Cola Rienzi.
The Jews had hitherto taken little part in governmental affairs, but with the appearance of Cola Rienzi their attitude changed. Rienzi, the son of the mistress of an inn, had been born in the part of the city behind the synagogue near the Church of St. Thomas, and had succeeded in raising himself to the dignity of senator. When he found that he could no longer withstand the attacks of Colonna, he confiscated the property of the wealthy Romans, as well as that of the Jews. On this account, and because the Jews were left out of consideration when civic rights were granted to the Italians, part of his Jewish adherents left him. When Rienzi was hard pressed by his adversary Count Pipino, it was a Jew who rang the alarm-bell to summon aid for him. The Jews played no part in Rienzi's subsequent reelection as senator and tribune, nor did they have anything to do with his death; they were, however, compelled publicly to burn his corpse.
Return of the Scroll at the Pope's Reception.
At the time of the Black Death in 1349, the Jews of Rome were spared the ravages of the plague. About this time city statutes were established which regulated the Jewish taxes as well as prescribed the costume which the Jews might wear; protection was granted them against extortions on the part of city officials and the heads of the gilds. During the brief pontificate of Gregory XI., who made Rome again the seat of papal administration, the city was visited by a plague, which formed the subject of a piyyuṭ by R. Solomon ("Codex Breslauer Seminar," 67:386b). Boniface IX., who was elected in 1389, appointed two Jews, Angelo and Salomone de Sabalduchio, as his body-physicians. On April 15, 1402, he issued a bull which reduced to a minimum the power of the Inquisition. The favors thus shown the Roman community tempted thither many of the Jews exiled from France in 1394. The will of Menahem ben Nathan of Rimini, who left five old Bologna reals for the improvement of the coast at Rimini and for the restoration of the walls of Rome, evidences the attachment of the Jews of Rome to their city (Berliner, "Ha-Medabber," 1881, p. 47). When the succeeding pope, Innocent VII., on his entry into Rome, was given a scroll of the Law by a Jewish deputation he returned it over his left shoulder as a formal expression of scorn; and this custom, derived perhaps from Boniface, became thenceforth part of the ceremony of homage. Innocent VII. confirmed the physician Elijah Sabbati, however, in his rights of Roman citizenship, granting him and his relatives exemption from all taxation and releasing them from the obligation of wearing the badge.
During the stay of Ladislaus, King of Naples (1375-1414), in Rome, after the death of Gregory XII., a Jewish physician named Moses was murdered. Another Jewish physician by the name of Helia was accused of the murder, and convicted and punished. The subsequent floods and famines resulted in a meeting at Bologna of the most prominent Jewish leaders of Italy, who there resolved to collect money as an insurance against further disasters and in order to send a delegation to the new pope, Martin V. Among the signatures to this resolution appear the names ofMenahem ben Meshullam Rofe and Benjamin ben Moses, the leaders of the Jewish community in Rome.
Soon after his accession Martin V. confirmed the Roman Jews in all the privileges and liberties given by the charter of Calixtus II., "Sicut Judæis non," taking the Jews under his own fatherly protection. He also abolished compulsory baptism and forbade the desecration of synagogues. Personally, he was on friendly terms with the Jews, and he allowed the scholar Aaron ben Gershon Abulrabi to lecture in the Vatican on the cherubim. Another scholar, Eliah Giudea, was appointed physician to the pope, remaining in that position until the latter's death. The Roman Jews in this reign sent Rabbi Elijah, accompanied by the young scholar Elhanan, to Jerusalem to secure further information of a reported rising of the Ten Tribes ("J. Q. R." 4:505). Especially noteworthy is the bull of Feb. 14, 1429, by which Pope Martin placed the Jews under the jurisdiction of the civil law, allowed them to frequent the public schools, and exempted Jewish tradesmen from wearing the badge.
Bull of Eugenius IV., 1442.
Martin's successor, Eugenius IV. (1431-47), had a different influence on the history of the Roman Jews. His first bull, issued Feb. 8, 1433, forbids the beating of the Jews on their holy days, levying of special taxes, disinterment of Jewish corpses, resort to violence at the collecting of taxes, and unauthorized killing of Jews; but his bull of the latter part of 1442, which probably he was led to issue by the Council of Basel, stands in strong contrast to this. In the bull of 1442, which comprises forty-two articles, he forbids the Jews to study civil law or to engage in handicrafts; he also orders the abolition of the Jewish courts. This bull was enforced with such rigor that several Jews left the Roman territory and settled in Mantua, by permission of Francisco Gonzaga. However, the leaders of several Roman congregations met in Tivoli and in Ravenna, and by the speedy collection of enormous sums of money they succeeded in having this bull withdrawn, though the clause which taxed the Roman community to the amount of 1,000 scudi remained in force. But the community was so impoverished that, at the instance of Moses ben Isaac, later physician to Pius II., petitions for monetary assistance were sent to other Italian communities. The stringent measures adopted by this pope would have been modified by his successor, Nicholas V., whose disposition was milder, had it not been for the inciting speeches of John Capistrano, which created such a state of unrest in Rome that the Jews were compelled to barricade themselves in their houses. A disputation between John Capistrano and one Gamaliel (probably identical with Gamaliel ben Moses, who sold books in Rome in 1433) led to the baptizing of the latter with forty other Jews. When in 1452 a money crisis occurred in Rome, old, forgotten law-suits were resurrected, and the Jews were obliged to appeal for assistance to the pope, who canceled all proceedings.
The Carnival Races.
The anti-Jewish bulls of Calixtus IV. and the generosity of Pius II. failed to affect the Jews to any great extent, because both these popes were too completely preoccupied in watching the progress of the Turks. For the amusement of the people Paul II. introduced foot-races during the carnival week, with costly mantles as prizes; on one day the Jews were compelled to join in the sport, arrayed in their red cloaks. They appear to have enjoyed taking part in the games, although they had to pay a "race-tax" of 1,100 florins; the sports, however, were probably abolished shortly after, for in 1468 a plague that carried off fifty victims a day raged in Rome, and two years later a flood brought new disaster upon the city. Sixtus IV. did not altogether support the Inquisition, which a neophyte, Guillelmus Siculus of Rome, had stirred to action against the Jews because the latter were said to maintain constant and intimate communication with the Maranos. When the pope had ordered the collection of the so-called "twentieths," a tax which had been laid upon the Jews, he permitted the latter to continue the lending of money at theusual rate of interest. During the reign of this pope the city was again visited by a flood, which was followed by an epidemic of a disease for which a Jew of Regno discovered a remedy.
Action Against Maranos.
The Jews had hitherto paid homage to the popes at Monte Giordano, but on the accession of Innocent VIII. a new place was selected for them near Engelsburg, because the Roman populace had come to regard the occasion as an opportunity to insult and deride the Jews. Innocent VIII. issued (July, 1487) a severe bull against the Maranos, not only against those in Spain, but also, and especially, against those who had removed to Rome; and shortly after the issuance of this bull eight Maranos were imprisoned in Rome by the pope. The manner of the Roman Jews toward the Maranos was reserved; the latter considered themselves superior to the Roman Jews, who, on their part, resented the competition of the newcomers; in addition, the papal bull had filled the Roman Jews with apprehensions. The death of this pope is connected with the legend that a Jewish physician (the quack in Lenau's "Savanarola") had drawn blood from three ten-year-old children for injection into the veins of the pope; the bleeding was said to have caused the death of the children, but failed to save the pope's life (Infessura [Eccard II. 2005, Tommasini, pp. 275 et seq.]).
The expulsion of the Jews from Spain took place during the pontificate of Alexander VI., and was the indirect cause of a change in the old Jewish community in Rome. The Roman Jews appealed to the pope with a gift of 1,000 ducats, requesting him to refuse the fugitives admission into Roman territory. This so incensed the pope that he fined them 200 ducats. The inflow of fugitives increased until it became necessary to erect a new synagogue (the fourth), which, after a short time, became the leading synagogue in Roman Jewry. Its first rabbi was an exile from Provence, the physician Bonet de Lattes (Jacob ben Immanuel Provenċal). The treatment of the Maranos by Pope Alexander was highly praiseworthy; although a Spanish delegation requested their expulsion, and in spite of the fact that they suffered from an infectious disease, he permitted them to live peacefully outside the Porta Oppia; and when a delegation of Portuguese "Maranos arrived at Rome to complain of the Portuguese government, although the pope ordered 280 Maranos to be imprisoned, he did not proceed against them with much severity.
Three floods about this time, following one another in close succession, brought great suffering upon the community; this was augmented by the entry into Rome of Charles VIII., whose soldiers committed such terrible excesses in the Jewish quarter that Charles at length found it necessary as a warning to erect a gallows in the Platea Judæorum. By order of Charles the Jews wore for their protection white crosses sewed on the shoulders of their mantles. The games introduced by Paul II. were reinstituted under Alexander VI. Another, not unimportant addition to the Roman community was caused by the inflow of exiles from Naples and of ransomed Jewish prisoners from the Barbary States, who had obtained permission from Julius II. (1503-1513) to settle in Rome. Several of these took part in the foot-races held in Rome a few days before the death of Julius. A description of these games is given in a poem by Jacob de Pomis.
During the reign of Julius II.'s successor, Leo X. (1513-22), the Roman Jews enjoyed uninterrupted quiet, so much so that they inquired in Jerusalem if the advent of the Messiah were not drawing near. Especially noteworthy is the fact that Leo gave the Jews permission to establish a printing-office. It was opened in the house of Joan Giacomo Fagiot de Montecchio, but it existed only three months. Leo also requested the Jews to furnish him with a copy of the Talmud. During the next pontificate, that of Hadrian VI. (1522-23), the city was visited by a pestilence which carried off 28,000 victims; an anti-Jewish riot also occurred during his reign, four Jews being murdered on the Piazza Giudea.
The Community Organized 1524.
Clement VII. (1523-34), whom Joseph ben David Yeḥaf, in his commentary on the Five Megillot (p. 41b, Bologna, 1538), calls "the favorer of Israel," displayed particular interest in the internal affairs of the Jewish community, which had been divided into contending parties. Within the community there existed no authority that could settle these quarrels, and an invitation to go to Rome was therefore issued to Daniel ben Isaac of Pisa, who was highly esteemed by the pope. With twenty of the wealthiest members of the community, Daniel ben Isaac began the work of reform. A new Jewish organization was established, governed by a board of sixty directors (this organization existed up to the nineteenth century). In a document dated Dec. 12, 1524, the pope signified his approval of this arrangement. The old law governing the slaughtering of animals for food had been revived in 1523; according to it the Jews were allowed to sell only live cattle, they were not permitted to slaughter in the Christian abattoirs or in the presence of Christians, nor were Christians permitted to purchase slaughtered cattle from Jews. When David Reubeni and his follower Solomon Molko came to Rome, Clement VII. not only offered them protection, but provided them with letters of recommendation. While in Rome Reubeni lived in the houses of Cardinal Ægidius, R. Joseph Ashkenazi and R. Raphael, Joseph Ẓarfati, the physician Moses Abudarham, and Isaac Abudarham. After his successful audience with the pope the Jewish community hailed him with great enthusiasm, and Yom-Ṭob ha-Levi assigned him a new residence. Reubeni, however, aroused some suspicion among various members of the community, resulting in the formation of two parties which remained at variance with each other until David left the city, in March, 1525; at his departure he was escorted by thirty of the most prominent Jews in Rome.
This era of prosperity was broken by severe trials. In 1527 the Spanish-German army of Charles IV. advanced against Rome, and on May 6 entered the city. Then began a butchery which lasted for three weeks, when it was succeeded by a pestilence which in the course of two or three months removed 100,000people. During the pillage Elijah ben Asher Levita, "the German," and Cardinal Ægidio de Viterbo lost their libraries, the books being used by the soldiery as fuel. Although the Jews were accused of having purchased at ridiculously low prices the costliest plunder, they were obliged to borrow money at the next levy of taxes. In the course of the following years some members of the Jewish community of Rome became prominent in connection with the wrangles which Henry VIII. of England had with Rome about his divorce from Catherine of Aragon. Among these were Rabbi and "Magister artium et medicinæ" Helias (Halfon), the convert Dom Marco Raphael, and Jacob Mantino, who had been influential in crushing Solomon Molko. The attitude of Clement toward the last-named, as well as toward the other Maranos, was very friendly, and it was due to his mildness that the Jewish community of Rome only four years later had almost quite recovered from the effects of the disaster.
Still more favored were the Jews by Paul III. (1534-50), who for that reason had to endure such opprobrious epithets as "Sadolet" and "Lelio secundo Curio," applied to him by Alexander Farnese. Paul permitted all the Jews who had been banished from Naples, as well as those coming from Palestine and Africa, to settle in Rome. He abolished the passion-plays in the Colosseum, at which Jews had often been murdered, and he granted permission (1545) to Antonio Bladao, Isaac ben Immanuel de Lattes, and Benjamin ben Joseph Arignano to establish a Hebrew printing-press in Rome. On the other hand, the pope was compelled to sanction (1543) the establishment by Johannes Calvus of the monte di pietà, which, the papal bull declared, was instituted in order to make the Jewish usurers take up handicrafts. This event marked the beginning of an era of reaction for the Roman Jews, which set in under the papacy of Julius III. (1550-1555), who, however, imposed a tax of no more than ten gold ducats on each of the 115 synagogues in the Papal States. This tax was to be applied toward the maintenance of the Casa dei Neofiti in Rome.
During Julius' reign the monk Cornelio of Montalcino, who had become a convert to Judaism, was burned at the stake (Sept. 4, 1550). Three years later a quarrel broke out between the two Hebrew printing-houses in Venice, those of Bragadini and Giustiniani; the wrangle went so far that both parties complained to the pope and denounced the Talmud. The Sacred College declared against the Talmud, and as a result it was publicly burned by papal edict of Aug. 12, 1553; the burning took place on the day of the Jewish New-Year festival, in the month following, on the Campo di Fiore. Shortly afterward other Hebrew books were condemned, but were saved by the intercession of R. Michael ben Isaac, Joseph ben Obadiah di Arignano and R. Joseph de Arli. On June 21, 1554, fourteen rabbis met in FERRARA and adopted resolutions concerning the printing of books and on other matters.
The reign of the succeeding pope, Marcellus II. (1555), although of only twenty days' duration, is of importance for the history of the Jews of Rome. A Spaniard, Sulim, had murdered his ward so that he might inherit the child's fortune, nailed the corpse to a cross, and left it in the Campo Santo. Suspicion at once fell upon the Jews, and the Pope and people were enraged. Cardinal Alexander Farnese then spread the report that the child had beencanonized, whereupon the people flocked to see it, and a physician recognized it. The result was that Sulim was convicted and hanged. In spite of this the convert Hananeel di Foligno incited the mob against the Jews; he was, however, challenged to a disputation with the rabbis and defeated (Joseph ha-Kohen, "'Emeḳ ha-Baka," ed. Letteris, pp. 114 et seq.; "R. E. J." 4:88). With the accession of Paul IV. (1555-59) to the papal throne, favorable conditions for the Roman Jews came to an end. Pope Paul provided their ghetto with entrance and exit, ordered them to wear the yellow cap and hood, forbade trading in rags, and prohibited also the employment by Christians of Jewish physicians. During his rigorous reign, David Ascoli, the author of a Latin apology, was imprisoned, and the Jews' offer of 40,000 scudi for the revocation of this order was rejected. This pope finally abolished the custom of the Jews paying homage to the popes. On July 26, 1555, all the Jews were herded into one street; and two months later this street was enclosed by walls, for which the Jews were compelled to pay 100 scudi (Oct. 3). All synagogues, except two, were condemned, and the Jews were forced to sell all their property that was situated outside the walls. In spite of the low prices paid, this sale brought 500,000 crowns. On March 23, 1556 the pope issued an edict according to which the Jews were required to pay taxes for the synagogues that had been closed. Some relief came, however, when the Jews (Aug. 22, 1556) were permitted to engage in all handicrafts, with the exception of those connected with the fine arts.
Soon a great calamity befell the city, when Duke Alva of Spain, at the head of a powerful army, marched against the Papal States. No one was permitted to leave the city, and the Jews were put to work on the fortifications. To this were added the inflammatory speeches of the apostate Vittorio Elliano, Joseph Moro and the Jew Josue dei Cantori, which resulted in the confiscation, on May 1, 1557, of all Hebrew books. The apostate Andrea del Monte found in the Ashkenazic synagogue a commentary by Ibn Ezra, whereupon the synagogue was closed and the congregation sentenced to pay a fine of 1,000 scudi. The synagogue remained closed for nine months, and this proved the death-blow of the German congregations. On Sept. 15, 1557, a flood placed the entire ghetto under water. Paul IV. was exceedingly harsh in his treatment of the Maranos, whom he, on April 30, 1556, ordered to be burned at the stake in Ancona. As soon as Paul was dead his monument was torn down, the palace attacked, the officials maltreated, and the gates of the ghetto battered down; a Jew, to the delight of the populace, placed his own yellow cap on the top of the shattered monument. Jewish history likens this pope to Haman (; Joseph ha-Kohen, c. p. 117).
Paul's successor, Pius IV. (1559-66), was the very antithesis of him. His first act was to see to it that the waters of the Tiber were diverted; for this the Jews were especially thankful, as the ghetto was most exposed to floods. In a bull issued Aug. 8, 1561, he revoked almost all his predecessor's enactments; the dwellings of the Jews were restricted to the ghetto, but not their places of business, which they might establish in any part of the city. They were allowed also to associate with Christians. According to the decision of the consistory of Treves, of March 24, 1564, the Talmud might again be printed, although under a different name. Pope Pius V. (1566-72) not only renewed the bulls of Pius IV., but expelled the Jews from the Papal States, with the exception of those of Rome and Ancona. In spite of his hatred of the Jews he allowed them to engage in the jeweler's trade; he also enlarged the ghetto by tearing down two churches, but in order that they might not be profaned by their Jewish surroundings.
The accession of Gregory XIII. (1572-85) was celebrated in a poem by Judah Saltemos; Gregory proved himself more friendly toward the Jews. The whole of the year 1572 was spent in the mustering of troops. The ghetto was attacked during the Passover festival by the troops assembled in Rome, who, however, were repulsed by the Jews. The pope therefore ordered the soldiers to leave the city. In spite of this the Jews found it necessary to establish a patrol (Sept. 21, 1573) to guard the ghetto against the mob. The hatred of the mob is shown by the fact that during the carnival, when Jews were compelled to run naked for a prize, they were bespattered with mud. On Jan. 10, 1577, the pope approved the organization established by Clement VII., and the community was taxed according to the incomes of its members ("per aes et libram"). On Sept. 1, 1577, the pope issued a decree that on every Sabbath the Jews should attend conversionist sermons. The first preacher was Josephus Florentia; the second, and more important, was the apostate Joseph Ẓarfati of Fez, whose sermons were made famous by his thorough knowledge of rabbinical literature (ẒARFATI). A second bull, Sept. 1, 1584, ordered that these sermons should be attended by at least 100 men and 50 women. The result of these sermons was that several Jews submitted to baptism, among them being a wealthy Jew named Samuel Corcos. The sermons of Domenico Gerosolomitano, who succeeded Joseph Ẓarfati, are extant in Hebrew and Italian.
The first bull which actually affected the inner affairs of the ghetto was issued June 1, 1581; it granted to the Inquisition the right to proceed against the Jews in cases of blasphemy, demon-worship, and heresy; and as a result Joseph Sanalbo, a convert to Judaism, was burned at the stake in 1583 (27th of Shebaṭ). Abtalion ben Mordecai of Modena held, in 1581, at Rome, a disputation in Latin in the presence of the pope, the result of which was that the law regarding the confiscation of the Talmud was repealed. Under the next pope, Sixtus V. (1585-90), the Jews enjoyed comparative immunity from injustice. The order was given that they were in no way to be molested, and on several occasions the pope ordered the whipping of Christians who had insulted the Jews during the carnival. In this pontificate the Severus arch-candlesticks were discovered. The bull of Dec. 18, 1585, had forRome the especial provision that the tax of a twentieth vigesima should be abolished, and a poll-tax of twelve ginli be levied instead. The objectionable customs of the carnival were also done away with. In 1587, under the leadership of the treasurer Isaac ben Solomon Corcos, walls were erected about the Jewish cemetery. At this time the business of the ghetto prospered as it had never done before, especially after the silk industry was introduced into the Papal States by the advice of Magino di Gabriele of Venice, to whom the pope for this reason granted several privileges. The ghetto itself was enlarged in 1588 in consequence of the steady influx of Jews; and on Sept. 4, 1589, separate prisons for Jews and priests were erected.
In order to enable the Jews to pay their communal debt, which had increased to 18,000 scudi, Clement VIII. (1592-1605) granted them 214 shares of 100 scudi each in the monte di pietà; in return the Jews made the pope a present of 3,075 scudi. In his bull of Feb. 28, 1592, Clement was especially strict in prohibiting the Jews from associating or doing business with Christians and converts. Another bull of Feb. 25, 1593, ordered the expulsion of the Jews from the entire papal territory, with the exception of Rome, Ancona, and Avignon; and on March 3 following all Talmudic works were given over to the Inquisition to be burned; the destruction took place on the Piazza San Pietro Jan. 14, 1601. On Dec. 18, 1599, the pope issued a brief admonishing the chamberlain to take measures against any increase in the size of the Jewish community. When, in the jubilee year 1600, the Jews were ordered to give up their beds for the use of the pilgrims, it was found that there were only eighty blankets in the ghetto; consequently the Jews had to pay 317 scudi instead.
Of special importance to the community was the ghetto regulation of June 18, 1603, which gave precise instructions as to when the gates of the ghetto might be opened and how long they might be kept open. Exceptions were, however, made to meet extraordinary and unforeseen circumstances. An order of Jan. 4, 1604, prescribed that the Jews should pay a yearly tax of 800 scudi for those who had been expelled. Among the many oppressive acts of the Inquisition was the seizure of R. Joshua Ascaredi, his wife, and four children; the children were baptized, and the rabbi and his wife were set free after having been imprisoned for forty-three days.
Pope Paul V. renewed all the anti-Jewish bulls issued by his predecessors. He dealt a death-blow to Jewish civil jurisdiction by ordering that henceforth Jewish lawsuits might be brought only before the governor. Paul established a well on the Piazza del Tempio and permitted the Jews to lead water from this well into the ghetto. On Aug. 13, 1620, the Jews, through R. Hezekiah Manoah Corcos, petitioned the pope to issue an order that Jews who had been imprisoned for debt by Christians should be cared for at the expense of the latter. On Jan. 11, 1621, the rota issued a proclamation, consisting of thirty-nine articles, favorable to the Jews.
The condition of the Jews improved neither under Gregory XV. nor under Urban VIII. The latter ordered the community to pay to Leonardo Masserano, a convert to Christianity who had written a book against Judaism, annually for five years, until 1634, the sum of 1,200 scudi. When Odvardo of Parma, on Oct. 13, 1641, invaded the Papal States, the Jewish taxes were increased to 150,000 scudi, and this sum was never refunded to the community. Compulsory baptisms also became more frequent; thus the pope had the two children of the Jew Fullo Serotino seized and baptized; on account of this a revolt broke out in the ghetto, and precautionary measures had to be taken (May 28, 1639).
The pontificate of Innocent X. (1644-55) would have been more tolerable had it not been for a terrible famine, which lasted for years and made it necessary for the Jews to borrow 160,000 scudi from the monte di pietà, for which they paid 4½ per cent interest. An account of the pestilence during the reign of Alexander VII. (1655-67) has been given by the Roman author Jacob Zaḥalon, in his "Oẓar ha-Ḥayyim" (Venice, 1683). The spread of the disease through Jewish pedlers was generally feared, for which reason the ghetto was closed. Nevertheless, the first case within the ghetto occurred three months after the first appearance of the plague, in the latterpart of October, 1656, and it ended there earlier than elsewhere (Aug. 28, 1657). Within the ghetto the pestilence claimed 800 victims. Two cardinals visited the ghetto twice daily to see to the needs of the community and to the isolation of the sick. Lazarettos were established; they were divided into three departments, in charge of the physicians Hananiah de Modigliano, Gabriel Lariccia, and Isaac Zaḥalon. The last-named, as well as other rabbis, preached every Sabbath from an open window, because the prayer-houses were closed. Thirty of the sixty communal leaders were selected to keep up communication with the outer world. These thirty survived the plague, and a yearly service was held in the synagogue on the Ḥanukkah festival to commemorate their good fortune. The expenditures of the community during the plague amounted to 40,000 scudi, and therefore the pope lowered to 4 per cent the rate of interest on the Jewish loan from the monte di, pietà. The sufferings caused by the plague, and by the famine which raged from 1656 to 1657, have been narrated by Elijah Recanati (Zunz, "S. P." p. 440). On account of an overflow of the Tiber, on Nov. 5, 1660, by which part of the ghetto was destroyed, the pope permitted the erection of an additional gate opposite the Cluci Palace. In the same year the sixty leaders drafted a set of regulations in regard to the passion for finery, and published them on the gates of the ghetto. The same body issued, in May, 1667, an edict regulating the property assessment of the individual members of the community.
The compulsory participation of the Jews in the foot-races was abolished by Clement IX. (May, 1668), but the Jews were required to pay an annual tax of 300 scudi instead. In addition, the leader of the Jewish community, on the day of the carnival, gave the commander of the Caporiones a present. The Shabbethaian Nathan Ghazali, who arrived in Rome in 1608, was expelled at the request of the community. During the reign of Innocent XI. an official armed with a staff attended the conversionist sermons to compel the audience to listen. Clement forbade the establishment in Rome of Jewish banking-houses. Compulsory baptisms took place under Innocent XI. (1676-89), notwithstanding his emphatically expressed belief that "one might lead, but not drag, a man into the house of God." Under Innocent's successors the Jewish community again attained to some degree of prosperity, especially under Innocent XII. (1691-1700) and Clement XI. (1700-20). Nevertheless, many compulsory baptisms took place under the last-named pope, and a blood accusation was made. The accusation was disproved by R. Tranguiko Vita Corcos in a book written in Italian and translated into Judæo-German; the translation appeared in Fürth in 1706 (Roest, "Cat. Rosenthal. Bibl." 1:55). Clement put an end to the carnival processions, a feature of which had been the presence of 100 Jews mounted on donkeys, with the rabbi at the head of the procession and facing tailward.
Under Innocent XIII. (1720-24) and Benedict XIII. (1724-30), who renewed all the anti-Jewish bulls issued by Paul IV. and Pius V.; the Jews were assisted by the Inquisition, which did not permit any interference in their business affairs. Of the many interdictions which were issued by Clement XII. (1730-40) special mention should be made of the repetition of an order forbidding Jews to inscribe any epitaphs on their tombs. This order had originated as early as the time of Pius V. On May 28, 1731, all Hebrew books found in the Papal States were confiscated. On Oct. 24, 1736, the death penalty was inflicted on two Jews who had been caught breaking into houses in the ghetto. Baptisms of Jews took place in Rome Jan. 18, 1732; Oct. 19, 1737; and Oct. 25, 1737.
In the Eighteenth Century.
A period of comparative peace for the community began under Benedict XIV. (1740-58), who issued three bulls regulating thé question of compulsory baptism. When the rumor was spread that prohibited books were being smuggled into Rome hidden in bundles of cloth the pope ordered (April, 1753) a confiscation of books, which was carried out. During the reign of this pope a delegate from the Jewish community in Poland, Eliakim ben Asher Selig, journeyed to Romein order to refute a blood accusation; the decision of the pope was in favor of the Jews.
As soon as Ganganelli had ascended the papal throne as Clement XIV. he dissolved the order of the Jesuits and freed the Jewish community from external jurisdiction and from the control of the Inquisition. He, as well as his successor Pius VI. (1775-1800), endeavored to promote Jewish trade and industry, until a reaction set in when the rest of the world adopted a policy of liberalism. The Jews were again forbidden to leave their ghetto, and were even prohibited from erecting monuments on their graves. In 1784 three Jews were murdered in the public streets, and two Jewish children were forcibly baptized. The Roman community therefore found it necessary to confer with the other European communities regarding methods of preventing such forcible conversions.
Entry of the French.
Toward the end of the eighteenth century the Italian and Roman rabbis were accused of having made various religious changes, whereupon R. Judah Leon of Rome, in the names of his brother rabbis, published an apology entitled "Miktebe ha-Rabbanim Asher be-'Are Iṭalya"( Carmoly, in "Revue Orientale," 3:171). The condition of the Roman Jews changed suddenly when General Berthier entered Rome on Feb. 15, 1798. Five days later the pope left Rome, and the Jews were declared free citizens; they at once laid aside the Jewish garb, and, to the accompaniment of music, planted a "tree of liberty" in front of the synagogue. Several articles taken from the Vatican were purchased by the Jews, but were at once destroyed. When the National Guard was established (March 14) the Jews were at first prevented from joining it; but shortly afterward the Jew Baraffael was appointed a major and several other Jews were enrolled in the ranks. On one occasion the Jews had to pay, at a few hours' notice, 150,000 scudi in coin, and 150,000 in bank-notes, besides delivering great quantities of various articles. On July 16, in the same year, the Jew Ezekiel Morpurgo was appointed a senator. When the Neapolitans invaded Rome, they put an end to the French government, and imposed new taxes on the Jews.
In the Nineteenth Century.
The mantle of the pontificate fell next upon Pius VII. (1800-23), who in every possible way endeavored to improve the reduced financial condition of the Jews. On June 10, 1809, the pope was compelled to leave Rome for five years; the Jews were again proclaimed Roman citizens, and the ghetto was allowed to remain open. On June 4, 1811, the first Roman consistory was constituted under the régime of Napoleon; its leaders were R. Leone di Leone, Giuseppe Samuel Benigno, and the citizens Vitale de Tivoli, Abram Vita Modiglani, and Sabbato Alatri. Shortly afterward, however, with the fall of Napoleon, the Castle of Saint Angelo was returned to the pope, and the gates of the ghetto were closed. The Inquisition was reintroduced, Jewish trading privileges were limited to the ghetto, and the Jews' franchise was revoked. Conditions became still worse under Leo XII. (1823-29) and Pius VIII. (1829-31), when all the medieval edicts and bulls were renewed. After the death of Leo XII. the Jews, mad with rage, tore down the ghetto gates; this, however, did not tend to improve their condition; they were even compelled to listen again to conversionist sermons.
Although Gregory XVI. (1831-46) was greatly indebted to the Jewish house of Rothschild, and in spite of the intercession of the Austrian government, the ghetto gates were reerected during his reign. This pope demanded also of the community a copy of the Torah in evidence of allegiance; the community gave him instead a different scroll written in Hebrew and ornamented with costly pictures, for which they had paid 10,000 francs.
The epidemic of cholera which raged in Rome in 1837 inflicted comparatively little loss upon the Jews. In 1839 the pope, at the request of Baron James de Rothschild, presented the community with a building to be used as a trade-school for boys. The election of Pius IX. to the papal throne in 1846 was an auspicious event for the Jews. Upon his accession he distributed 300 scudi among the poor of the ghetto, and he showed his humane feelings during the Tiber floods of Dec. 10 and 12, 1846, when he sent relief to the Jewish quarter first of all. On Oct. 1, 1847, the carnival festival was finally abolished, and in May of the same year the Jews were granted permission to live outside the ghetto. The conversionist sermons were discontinued.
A complete reconciliation between the general populace and the Jews was, however, first effected on July 15, 1847, through the eloquence of Ciceruacchio. On April 17, 1848, the work of removing the ghetto walls began, by the order of the pope.Shortly after a mob again rose against the Jews, who, however, successfully defended themselves. The revolution of 1848 progressed so rapidly that by the end of that year the pope was compelled to leave Rome. On Feb. 9, 1849, the "Assemblea" proclaimed the full civic equality of the Jews. The new government did not endure very long, however, for on June 30 the city was retaken; and the pope had hardly reached Rome before the old régime was restored. In Oct., 1849, the houses of all Roman Jews were searched because their owners were suspected of having Church property in their possession. Ornaments which bore no satisfactory marks of ownership, including even such as belonged to the synagogue, were not returned to them. Compulsory baptisms took place, as in Sinigaglia and Ancona. The See MORTARA CASE aroused attention in 1859. The financial difficulties of the Roman community became so desperate that it had to apply for aid to other European communities ("Allg. Zeit. des Jud." 1860, 1870; Wertheimer, "Jahrbuch," 1860-1861). Even in the sixties coercive baptisms occurred in large numbers. In 1866 the final revolution broke out; Garibaldi was soon defeated, but in 1870 the victorious Victor Emanuel entered Rome, and the definitive overthrow of the secular power of the papacy was effected.
The Jewish Quarter and Synagogues.
Until the first century C.E. the Jewish settlement in Rome occupied the Trastevere section of the city; and the part before the Porta Portese was known up to the seventeenth century as the "Jews' field." During the reign of Domitian a new Jewish quarter was established on the Via Appia, outside the Porta Capena, and this soon became the most densely inhabited Jewish district in Rome; a reasonable estimate of the number of Jews in Rome during the empire would give at least 40,000. This large population rendered several synagogues necessary which were called προσευχή. Ten of these old congregations are known as those respectively of Augustus, Agrippa, Campus Martius, the Subura, the Carcaresians, the Hebrews, the Rhodians, the Elæanians, Volumnius, and Severus. The two first-named date from the reign of Augustus. The management of the separate congregations was in the hands of archons, whose duty it was to see to all the details of administration. The "gerusiarch" presided over the college of archons; independent of this college stood the archisynagogue, who was the highest official, and one of whose chief duties was to preach in the synagogue on Sabbaths. A subordinate office was that of the ὑπηρέτης (), who had charge of juridical affairs. In time these minor offices became hereditary, thereby assuming an aristocratic tendency. Higher positions within the community were occupied by the ῥαββιυός (possibly identical with ), the μαθητὴς σοφώυ (= ), and the γραμματεύς (= ). The exact locations of only three synagogues are known: the oldest synagogue, situated in the Trastevere quarter, near the present Church of St. Cecilia; the synagogue of the Subura, situated in the neighborhood of the Esquiline, outside the Pomerium; and a synagogue outside the Porta Capena, near the sacred grove of Egeria. A seminary also existed as early as the first pre-Christian century (Philo, "De Virtutibus et Legatio ad Caium," ed. Mangey, 2:568).
There were at that time a Jewish court of justice, a ritual bath, and catacombs. One of these catacombs was discovered by Bosio in 1602, but all knowledge of this has been since lost. Up to the present time, however, four others have been discovered, all of which are situated on the Via Appia. These catacombs each contain two cubicula, decorated with artistic paintings. The oldest inscription met with in the catacombs is of the second pre-Christian century. Besides individual tombs there were family vaults, and the great age of these may be surmised from the family names which appear on them, as Julii, Claudii, Flavii. To a certain extent the inscriptions reveal the callings which the Jews pursued. The greater part were engaged in business; several were money-brokers; the handicrafts were well represented, and there appear to have been many artists and mechanics among them. There were also Jewish actors, of whom Antyros, during the reign of Nero, and Faustina, in the time of Marcus Aurelius, are known, as well as several contemporaries of Martial. The number of Jewish slaves was very considerable. The Jews distinguished themselves by their devotion to their homes and families, their industry, and their frugality. An exception to this is furnished by the sons of Herod and their descendants, who are known to have been spendthrifts. The women occupied a very honorable position; young girls were married between thirteen and fifteen years of age. Religious ceremonials, the Sabbaths, the feasts and fast-days, and the dietary laws were strictly observed.
The only custom which was in opposition to ancient Jewish ideas was the use on tombstones of animal and human figures. The language in ordinary use was at first Greek and later Latin, these languages being used also in the Sabbath services. Whether the Jews really were zealous in making proselytes can not be ascertained, but it is known that many Romans, often large numbers together, embraced Judaism, which generally resulted in persecutions. Those who embraced Judaism were either semi-converts ( = ϑεοσεβεῖς or σεβόμευοι) or proselytes (). Not even the downfall of the Jewish state diminished the number of conversions that were made; still only the names of a few converts have been preserved. These include Fulvia, the wife of Saturninus, senator during the reign of Tiberius; Poppæa, Nero's wife, who was a ϑεοσεβή; Pomponia Græcina, who was accused (58) of practising religious ceremonies unauthorized by the state; Beturia Paulina, converted at the age of seventy (perhaps identical with the Talmudic Bekurit or Berusia; Grätz, "Gesch." 4:102); and Chrysis (3d cent.). Among the male converts the most noteworthy were Agrippa, son of Fuscus of Phenon, and Æmilius Valensius.
Notice by Pagan Authors.
The Christians at this time constituted merely a sect of Judaism, and the complete separation of the two creeds occurred at a much later period. Not until the second century did the Christians visit the synagogue with the purpose of holding disputationswith the Jews after service. Otherwise, Jewish customs and ceremonies were unknown to the Romans, and not a single one among their most famous authors has given even an approximately correct representation of Judaism. Of fantastic accounts the following may be mentioned: Justinus ("Epitoma," 36:2), Tacitus ("Hist." 5:2-5), Plutarch ("De Iside," ), Strabo ("Geographia." 16:235 et seq.), Cicero ("De Provinciis," 5:10; "Pro Flacco," et seq.). Classical Writers. Jewish hatred of Rome dates from the destruction of Jerusalem. Rome was regarded as "the fourth beast" in Daniel's vision, and was given the name of "Hazir" (the swine; Zunz, "G. S." 3:221; Bacher, in "Monatsschrift," 1871, p. 226). The "unicorns" of Isaiah 34:7) are referred to the Romans ( = ), and the "Dumah" of Isaiah 21:11 is applied to Rome ( ; cp. Yer. Ta'an. 64:10a). Mention must also be made of the legend concerning TITUS.
With the downfall of paganism and the growth of the Christian religion the status of the Roman Jews underwent a change. They began to leave the Trastevere quarter and to settle on the left bank of the Tiber, and the Pons Fabricius at last came to be known as the Pons Judæorum. The Jewish population decreased in the same proportion as the general population. The organization of the community changed but little. At its head stood the , to whom were inferior in rank the , the latter being known also as "patriarchs" and "presbyters" (). These officiated also as "didascali" (). In the Justinian novellæ they are called also , while the seminary is called . On account of the general lack of knowledge of Hebrew the office of prayer-leader () gradually increased in importance. The or rendered decisions in all religious matters.
The Jews were no longer citizens, but constituted, in common with Saxons, Franks, and Friesians, a "schola peregrinorum" or "society of foreigners." They enjoyed full religious liberty, in return for which they assumed all a citizen's duties toward the state; minor offices also were open to them. Only the synagogues were exempt from the duty of quartering soldiers. The trade in slaves constituted the main source of livelihood for the Roman Jews, and decrees against this traffic were issued in 335, 336, 339, 384, 415, 417, 423, 438, and 743.
Education was mainly religious in character, most stress being laid upon a knowledge of the Bible. The liturgy underwent practically no changes. In case of a death in the community the mourners' first meal consisted of lentils; at such religious ceremonies as circumcision and betrothal, ten witnesses were required. The term = σύυτεκυος, meaning "god-father," originated probably in Rome, and the idea associating the life beyond with a heavenly feast, in which all the virtuous share, found its origin there also (see Jellinek, "B. H." 5:45 et seq.). The same may be said concerning the legend of the Messianic war.
The Roman Jews were scorned and insulted by both pagans and Christians, and Claudius Rutilius Numantius calls them "a people which performs shameful operations on new-born children." Christianity strictly forbade compulsory baptisms, but it inflicted the severest punishments upon those whofell away from the Church after they had been baptized. In spite of this the relations between Christians and Jews in Rome seems to have been intimate, and until the latter part of the eighth century many of the former observed the Jewish Sabbath. Gradually, Christianity began to assail Judaism; this tendency became especially manifest in disputations. The first of these disputations is said to have been held in Rome between Pope Sylvester (314-336) and the Jew Noah; another is known to have taken place between Theophilus and a Jew named Simon. The famous legend concerning Peter, which attributes to him the authorship of the Sabbath-prayer ("Nishmat") and of the prayer for the Day of Atonement ("Etan Tehillah"), originated in Rome.
From the eleventh century till into the fourteenth, the sources for the internal history of the Jews of Rome become more abundant. Business and industry were zealously pursued, and the prosperity of the community increased apace, but its members numbered only one thousand. The Jews still inhabited in part the Trastevere quarter, a fire which destroyed twenty-one Torah scrolls being reported as having taken place in the synagogue there in 1268. Another group of Jews lived in the northeastern part of the city, where a "Mons Judæorum" still existed in the thirteenth century. Besides the old synagogue in the Trastevere there were several others: that in the Riolle della Regola; that erected in 1101 by Nathan ben Jehiel and his brother Abraham; the Bozecchi Synagogue, which was built in the thirteenth century; the synagogue of R. Joab, built in the fourteenth century; and the Gallican synagogue, probably built by French Jews.
Very little is known concerning the organizationof the community at this period. At the head of jurisprudence stood the "judex" (); another official was the "strator," who possibly was identical with the . The prayer-leader was called . The Jews were free from taxation, but whenever the pope entered the city they were required to do him homage and present him with two pounds of cinnamon and one pound of pepper. The antagonism between Jews and Christians was not very deep, and although few intermarriages occurred, the popes often complained of sexual intercourse between them. Disputations were often held, but these led to no definite results; and they were generally brought about by the Jews themselves. A comparison between polemical writings of this period—as, for example, between those of Solomon ben Moses and those of the Dominicans—at once shows the superiority of the Jewish disputants.
The educational system of this period was highly developed; the knowledge of Talmud, Bible, and religious practise had attained a high degree of excellence; grammar, however, appears to have been somewhat neglected. Mathematics and philosophy were assiduously cultivated, and the study of medicine was greatly favored. A more frequent interchange of correspondence took place between the scholars of Rome and of other European cities. It appears that the Jews were well represented in mercantile and financial circles also. Their export trade was very considerable, while the clothing and dyeing industries were equally flourishing; a number of Jews were engaged also in agricultural pursuits. The wealthiest among the Jews imitated the Italian nobility, not merely with regard to their mode of living, but also by adopting the rôles of Mæcenates, thereby stimulating scientific pursuits among Jews.
Among the prominent Jewish physicians of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the following may be mentioned: Benjamin and Abraham ben Jehiel ANAW and their descendants, who bore the additional name Ha-Rofe; Maestro Gajo; Zerahiah ben Isaac; Moses ben Benjamin; Menahem Anaw; Nathan of Cento, his son Selome, and his nephew Samuel; Immanuel ben Solomon; Judah ben Benjamin.
Among the foremost writers of this period were: Kalonymus ben Jekuthiel ben Levi Ẓarfati (1230); Judah ben Benjamin Anaw (1247); Benjamin ben Abraham Anaw (1260); Jehiel ben Daniel (1265); Solomon Jedidiah ben Moses (1273); Jehiel ben Jekuthiel ben Benjamin Rofe (1284); Abraham ben Joab and Benjamin ben Joab (1284); Sabbai ben Mattithiah (1285); Solomon ben Zedekiah (1288); YomṬob ha-Kohen (1290); Solomon ben Jehiel ben Abraham (1292); Moses ha-Rofe ben Benjamin (1292); Jonathan ben Abiezer (1294); Mishael (1299); Moses ben Joseph (1302); Moses ben Ḥayyim (1304); and Paola, the daughter of Abraham ben Joab (1288).
It was considered fashionable to write verses, and the art of poetry, therefore, found followers also among the Roman Jews ("Maḥberet," 13:101a). The Jews' mode of living was in keeping with the prosperity of their affairs, and their city dwellings were comfortable and roomy. The attire of the men consisted of knee-pantaloons (), stockings reaching to the knee , a laced girdle ( with ), a tunic-like coat () thrown over the shoulders, shoes of leather or cloth (), and a broad-brimmed hat (); in cold weather gloves were worn (). The color of the dress was either gray or yellow. The women wore as an outer garment the , made from cloth of variegated colors, provided with a long train, and held together with a girdle; on the street they wore a veil. The wealthy wore diamonds in the hair.
The popular games or amusements included: "even and uneven," ninepins, ball, marbles, dice, and chess. The Purim festival was celebrated by the burning of an effigy representing Haman. The Rejoicing of the Law was observed with festivities, and the bridegroom of the Law expended large sums of money for social purposes. Weddings and circumcisions took place in the synagogue, the former even on Sabbaths. The dead were arrayed in linen garments and buried on the day of death; the tombstoneswere inscribed only with the name of the deceased and the date of death.
Religious life centered in the synagogue; the ḥazzan was the prayer-leader and was highly respected. German prayer-leaders often officiated in Roman synagogues and were known as . Regarding the sermons preached in the synagogue nothing further is known than that those on the Sabbath before Easter were protracted for hours, sometimes lasting until late in the afternoon. On the Ninth of Ab the Torah was not placed upon the table, but was taken to the farthest corner of the synagogue by one who held it in his hands and read aloud from it standing. The liturgy had not reached its final form at this period, and disputes often took place within the community concerning the admission of various prayers.
Legends and Traditions.
The legends that originated at this period had reference not only to ancient places and palaces, but also to the Jewish pope; several of these are extant in various versions, and all are indicative of the longing of the Jews for full liberty, and of their sorrow over their sad condition. Many families trace their genealogy back to these early times. The most prominent of these are: Degli Mansi, Piatelli, or Umani (); Faucirelli (); De Rossi (); De Pomis ( ); De Ceprano (); De Buscchio (); De Cento (). Mention should be made also of that branch of the Anaw family called or .
Authors of the Fourteenth Century.
The history of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries gives evidence of a still more progressive civilization. With regard to the educational system, the child, as soon as it left the elementary school, devoted its time either to learning a trade or to the study of science. The latter study embraced four branches: natural science, medicine, philosophy, and poetry. The study of the sciences was, however, overshadowed by the rise of mysticism in the fourteenth century. Nevertheless, the "songs of the scholars of Rome" are often mentioned. The chief industries of the Jews were the manufacture of silk and clothing; but their most important occupation was the management of financial transactions. The ever-increasing percentage of usury charged for loans tended still further to estrange the Jews from the Christians. The former were, however, generally protected, and even foreign Jews who went to Rome on business were given safe-conducts. Mention should also be made of the butcher's calling. The Jewish shambles were at that time situated on the Piazza Macello. Roman Jews, when traveling abroad, were granted ten days' exemption from the wearing of the Jewish dress, and Jewish physicians were likewise exempted. Of famous authors who flourished at Rome in this period the following are worthy of special mention: Moses ben Ḥayyim; Judah; Menahem Ẓemaḥ ben Abraham Rofe; Jehiel ben Solomon ben Joab; Joseph ben David of Rome; and several members of the Bethel family.
The dress worn by the Roman Jews resembled that worn by the Germans of the same period. As a distinguishing feature all male Jews were obliged to wear a red domino, and all women the so-called "quaruelli." In spite of this, a tendency to luxury in dress, as well as extravagance at entertainments and religious ceremonies, developed in Rome to such an extent that a rabbinical conference in Bologna found it necessary to adopt stringent measures against it; these measures have special reference to bridal processions. Besides the games already mentioned the , a kind of backgammon, and card-playing were known in Rome at this time; the last-named, however, was permitted only when visiting the sick. Music was not cultivated at all, and Christian musicians were employed; even at mourning festivals it was necessary to hire Christian female mourners. The language in common use was Italian; fragments of Hebrew-Italian dictionaries of this period have been found not only of the Bible and the Prophets, but even of the "Moreh Nebukim."
The enjoyment of comparative peace and the study of philosophy and the natural sciences resulted in some neglect in visiting the synagogue. At the same time there was a decided increase of superstition. Transgressions of the laws were of daily occurrence; in order to check these, were appointed, with authority to inflict severe punishment on any law-breaker whom they seized. At the head of the community stood a committee (), consisting of ten members. There were, besides, certain Jewish police officers, possibly identical with the above-mentioned . These officers were entrusted with the task of collecting the taxes of the Roman Church. All administrative officials were exempted from wearing the Jewish mantle. The two main synagogues were known by the names and . The official taxes were as follows: (1) 1,130 gulden as a contribution to the games; (2) 10 gulden (gold) to the "consul mercatorum"; (3) the "decima" (tithes) tribute levied by the pope—1 1/2 ducats per thousand for incomes larger than 1,000 ducats; 1 ducat per thousand for incomes between 500 and 100 ducats; and 1/2 ducat per thousand on incomes below 100 ducats.
The Jews of Rome were full citizens and were under the jurisdiction of the Capitoline Curia. Officials were severely punished for insulting the Jews or for bringing suits against them on Sabbaths or festivals. Severe punishment was also prescribed for any one who molested the Jews on public highways or waterways. But how far the laws were carried out it is difficult to say.
Physicians of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries.
The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were the period of decline in Jewish learning. Only philosophy and medicine were diligently studied. The following Jewish physicians of this period are known: Jacob Mantino (who was docent at the medical college); R. Judah di Ascola (1524); Elijah ben Abraham (1536); Judah ben Jehiel and Solomon ben Jehiel (1539); Zeraḥin ben Mattithiah and Moses ha-Levi ibn Abi (1538); Joseph ben Abraham; Samuel ben Abraham; Jekuthiel ben Isaac and Moses ben Isaac (1539); Joseph ben Abraham (1540-50); Eliezer and Menahem ben Shabbethai de Nola, and Moses ben Obadiah (1543); Mordecaiben Michael (1544); Maestro David (1545); Baruch ben Judah and Meshullam ben Abraham (1549); Judah ben Isaac; Moses; Jehiel ben Solomon; Moses bar Joseph de Monte Porzio; Meshullam ben Abraham and Joseph ben Abraham (1550).
The famous writers of this period include: Moses Rieti; Elijah Levita; the physician Judah ben Benjamin; Astruc Crescas Kalonymus; Daniel ben Abraham de Castro; Moses ben Eliakim; Menahem ben Mordecai; Ẓemaḥ ben David; Abraham bar Mordecai; Ḥayyim ben Samuel; and Joseph ben Elijah Ḥakim. The converts Franciscus Parnas, Paulus Evulius, and Fabius Ramugi attained fame in this period as copyists of Hebrew manuscripts. Later, Rome, in common with other Italian cities, had its own Hebrew printing establishments, but none of these enjoyed any very long existence. A Hebrew printing-press was established in 1518 by the sons of Abigdor ha-Levi Leniatori (), but neither this nor one established in 1545 by Antonio Bladao and Isaac ben Immanuel de Lattes existed for any length of time. A third one was founded later (1578) by Francesco Zanetti. The business of money-lending increased during this period; Rome had thirty Jewish bankers. Not until the establishment of the monte di pietà were they confronted with any competition. The tailoring trade employed a very large number of Jews, who were especially famous for making the so-called "Romanesque" garments. The trade in drugs like-wise was increasing among them.
In this period Jewish musicians appeared, for the first time in Roman history; Juan Maria and Jacomo Sansecondo were especially famous. The singer Abramo dell 'Arpa and the dancing-master Guglielmo Ebreo Pesarese also established reputations in Rome as artists of merit. In spite of the many papal decrees and edicts, relations between Jews and Christians remained friendly, and the social position of the Jewish community was made easier by the appointment of a cardinal-vicar as supervisor of communal affairs in place of a clerical magistrate. Every male Jew over five had to wear a yellow badge on his breast, and every Jewess, two blue stripes in her veil. Pope Alexander VI. substituted for the yellow badge a disk made of cord, and Leo X. introduced a badge made from red cloth. In addition to his red mantle, every Jew had to wear a straw-colored biretta. Besides the "decima"-tax and the contribution to the games, a "vigesima"-tax of 1,000 scudi annually was levied; in 1533 it was, however, reduced to 300 scudi. Of the income of 2,100 scudi which the Jews derived from their slaughter-house they were required to pay the sum of 700 scudi into the papal treasury.
With regard to the internal affairs of the community, the Roman Jews were divided into Italians and Ultramontanes; and of the sixty members of the "Congrega," or representative body of the community thirty-five were Italians and twenty-five Ultramontanes. The authority of these representatives within the community was most extensive, and their decisions, when approved by the cardinal-vicar, had the force of law. At their head stood the two camerlingi (), one an Italian and the other an Ultramontane, and under these were the two collectors of alms (), one Italian and one Ultramontane. To see that decrees were properly obeyed, five "difensori dei capitoli" were appointed, three of whom were Italians and two Ultramontanes. The protocols of the proceedings were kept by the second rabbi and signed by the communal secretary ( ). The oldest extant records of this kind date from the year 1536. The number of synagogues at this period was eleven, of which only ten are known by name: (1) Keneset Yir'at Adonai; (2) Keneset ha-Hekal; (3) Keneset Arba'ah Rashim; (4) Keneset ha-Sha'ar; (5) Keneset Katalani; (6) Keneset Kastiliani; (7) Keneset Aragonim; (8) Keneset Ẓiẓiliani; (9) Keneset Zarfatiyim; (10) Keneset Ashkenazim. Divine services in Rome were held according to four different rituals—Spanish, Italian, French, and German. The sermons were preached from the tribune () in Italian, which language was used also for the prayers. Of tombstones dating from this period, only one (of 1543) has beenpreserved. Jewish religious ceremonies were not strictly observed, and the moral standard was low. Thus, during Alexander's reign fifty Jewesses were burned at the stake for leading immoral lives.
With the walling-in of the ghetto under Paul IV., in the sixteenth century, the status of the Jewish community underwent a sad change. The original name of the ghetto was Serraglio delli Hebrei; this in 1562 was changed to Ghectus. At first it had five gates, to which three more were added later. The number of houses in the ghetto in the seventeenth century was 130, divided between two large and six small streets. Opposite the main gate was erected a tall cross bearing in Hebrew characters the inscription: "I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people" (Isaiah 65:2). As the ghetto covered a space of only one square kilometer and was inhabited by at least 10,000 people, its atmosphere was always unwholesome. The community looked after the cleaning of the streets and often levied high taxes for that purpose, but frequent overflowings of the Tiber would deposit the river's filth in the streets and prevent their being kept clean. Of the original eleven synagogues only five remained. In addition to the old cemetery in the Trastevere the community had two others on the northern slope of Mons Aventinus. On account of frequent violations of the tombstones, it became customary to keep them in the dwellings.
Inner Life in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries.
During this period but little attention was paid to educational matters. When five years of age the child was sent to the elementary school, and thereafter it frequented the Talmud Torah, where extracts from Maimonides' "Mishneh Torah" constituted the best educational material. As regards social matters, strict rules were laid down as to the gifts that might be exchanged at festivals, and as to those that might be presented to a bride by the bride-groom, by friends, and by relatives. At a festival the music had to be provided by Jews, and only biscuits, bread, and wine might be served as refreshments. No one might give his daughter in marriage to a stranger without the express permission of the rabbi and the congregation. The custom of taking a second wife in addition to the first when the latter was childless was permitted up to the eighteenth century. In spite of the prohibitions of the congregation the luxury displayed in dress was very great; the women even wore rings on all their fingers. Coffee, tea, and tobacco were soon introduced into the ghetto, and it was even found necessary to discuss whether grace should be said over any of these articles (N. Segre, in "Paḥad Yiẓḥaḳ," p. 62a). There were also strict rules with reference to funeral ceremonies, and the coffin of a prominent man was decorated differently from that of an ordinary person. Religious superstition increased, and so did the literature of the ritual; "ma'amadot" and "ashmorot ha-boḳer" were composed and were recited daily before sunrise in thesynagogues, where they were listened to with great devoutness. A sermon was preached either every Sabbath or every second Sabbath. Each sermon consisted of a Biblical text and its exposition; otherwise it was generally shallow and related chiefly to morals. The Sabbath was celebrated in a strict and austere manner.
The administration of the affairs of the community was in the hands of the "fattori del ghetto"; their office was a very ungrateful one, as its holders were liable to be called to account and punished severely for acts which they had no authority to prevent. Seventy-five of these officials who held office between 1551 and 1605 are enumerated by Vogelstein and Rieger ("Gesch. der Juden in Rom," 2:312-313). In addition to other duties the fattori were required to revise and print the "Capitoli-Ordini" every five years. All elections for offices of honor within the community were held on the 17th of Tammuz, and persons who were elected were installed in office on the Sabbath following the Ninth of Ab.
The more the community suffered under papal oppression the more its tendency to charity increased, and in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries there were in Rome forty-four charitable societies (see Vogelstein and Rieger, ib. 2:315-318, where they are enumerated). Jewish converts were made, as a rule, not among the members of the congregations, but rather among the rabble which at all times infests the capital of the world. The conversionist sermons, which were held first in the Church of S. Trinita degli Pelligrini, and later in that of S. Sabina, on the whole produced no results.
The main Jewish industries at this period were tailoring, retail trading, the goldsmith industry, saddlery, carpentering, and fishing. The trade in second-hand clothing was particularly active, while the money-lending business died out completely, and the community became greatly impoverished. The study of medicine also decreased, although the names of sixteen Jewish physicians and surgeons of this period are known (Vogelstein and Rieger, ib. 2:326). The Jews were under the jurisdiction of the cardinal-vicar: in civil cases, under the court of the vicarate; in criminal cases, under the Sacra Consulta; and in commercial cases, under the mercantile court. Unjust taxation contributed more than anything else to the stagnation and impoverishment of the community; new taxes were added almost daily, and they grew to such an extent that in 1682 the total debt of the community amounted to 261,036.72 scudi.
Following are lists of the known rabbis, scholars, and poets of Rome:Rabbis:
- Moses Nasi, Abraham ben Shabbethai, Shabbethai ben Moses (11th cent.).
- Solomon ben Abraham, Ezra ben Mattithiah, Menahem ben Judah (12th cent.).
- Leonte (Judah) ben Moses, Abraham ben Jehiel Anaw, Shabbethai ben Solomon, Meïr ben Moses, Judah ben Benjamin , Benjamin ben Abraham Anaw, Zedekiah ben Abraham Anaw (13th cent.).
- Azriel ben Ḥayyim Trabotta, Pethahiah Jare ben Baruch, Joseph ha-Levi, Solomon de Treves Ẓarfati (15th cent.).
- Israel ben Jehiel Ashkenazi, Shabbethai ben Mordecai, Maẓliaḥ ben Joseph, Michael ben Shabbethai, Abraham ben Aaron de Scazzoccho, Solomon ben David Corcos, Isaac ben Immanuel de Lattes. Solomon ben Shemaiah. David Falkon, Shabbethai ben Joseph Calabrese, Isaac ben Solomon, Shabbethai ben Joseph, Michael ben Isaac, Joseph ben Obadiah, Elijah ben Joseph di Nola, Baruch ben Joab di Fes Fiori, Isaac ha-Kohen ben Abraham, Eliezer Maẓliaḥ ha-Kohen, Isaac ben Judah, Moses ben Immanuel Lattes, Isaac ha-Kohen ben Abraham Ashkenazi, Ḥamul Eliezer Maẓliaḥ ben Abraham (16th cent.).
- Samuel ben Moses de Castel Nuovo, Hananeel Sforno, Abraham de Cammeo, Raphael Hezekiah Manoah Corcos, Shabbethai b. Mordecai Panzieri, Judah ben Isaac Menaghen, Vito (Ḥayyim) Menaghen, Raphael de Lattes (17th cent.)
- Jacob Jeshurun Lopez, Shabbethai ben David de Segni, Abraham ben Jacob Anaw, Maẓliaḥ di Castro, Mahallaiel Modigliano (18th cent.).
- Judah Leon di Leone, Jacob Fasani, Israel Moses ben Eliezer Hazan, Samuel Toscano (M.D.), Laudadio Coën, Abramo Toscano (M.D.), Sabatino Scazzochio (19th cent.).
- Vittore Castiglione (20th cent.).
- Cæcilius of Calacto (1st cent. B.C.).
- Flavius Josephus (1st cent. C.E.).
- Theudas, Pelation, Matthias ben Heresh (2d cent.).
- Ḥiyya bar Abba (3d cent.).
- Abba bar Zemena (4th cent.).
- Yiram of Magdiel (9th cent.).
- Jehiel ben Abraham, Joab Anaw (11th cent.).
- Nathan ben Jehiel, Moses ben Menahem, Benjamin ben Joab (12th cent.).
- Solomon ben Shabbethai, Benjamin ben Moses, Mordecai ben Benjamin, Daniel (father of Jehiel Sofer), Joab (grandfather of Paola), Isaac of Camerino, Nathan ben Menahem, Mattathiah ben Shabbethai, Benjamin ben Solomon, Jehiel ben Benjamin Anaw, Zedekiah ben Benjamin Anaw, Lewi, Simḥah, David, Moses ben David, Moses ben Abraham, Benjamin ben Judah, Benjamin ben Joab Naḳdan, Joab ben Solomon, Jekuthiel ben Jehiel Rofe, Moses ben Ḥayyim, Moses Rofe ben Benjamin, Benjamin ben Judah, Judah Leone Romano, Nathan ben Eliezer (1279-83), Zerahiah ben Isaac Gracian, Solomon ben Moses de Rossi (13th cent.).
- Moses ben Judah de Fanciulle, Moses ben Shabbethai, Moses ben Jekuthiel (14th cent.).
- Moses ben Isaac de Rieti, Flavius (Raimundus) Mithridates (15th cent.).
- Obadiah ben Jacob Sforni, Mordecai ben Moses Galante, Elijah ben Asher ha-Levi, Isaac ha-Kohen ben Ḥayyim, Jacob Mantino of Tortosa, Amatus Lusitanus, David de Pomis, Jehiel ha-Kohen ben Moses (16th cent.).
- Tranquillo Vita Corcos, Shabbethai Ambron (17th cent.).
- Rome was for a time a "nest of singing birds"; among the best known were: Solomon ben Judah (9th cent.).
- Shabbethai ben Moses, Moses ben Shabbethai, Kalonymus ben Shabbethai (11th cent.).
- Daniel ben Jehiel, Abraham ben Jehiel, Judah ben Menahem, Leonte ben Abraham, Benjamin ben Abraham, Nathan ben Zedekiah (12th cent.).
- Moses ha-Sofer ben Benjamin, Moses ben Abraham Anaw, Jehiel ben Jekuthiel, Moses ben Joseph, Solomon ben Moses Jedidiah, Solomon ben Moses ben Joseph, Abraham ben Joab, Solomon ben Moses (13th cent.).
- Immanuel ben Solomon, Judah Siciliano, Solomon (14th cent.).
- Joab ben Nathan, Daniel ben Judah (15th cent.).
- Deborah Ascarelli (16th cent.).
A new era dawned for the Jews of Rome when Victor Immanuel ascended the throne of Italy, and the secular power of the papacy came to an end. At the close of the seventies the ghetto began to fall, but the poorer among its inhabitants left it reluctantly, because the rents were too high in other parts of the city. To ameliorate this poverty the Società di Fratellana per il Progresso degli Israeliti. Poveri was formed; its first president was M. Rava (1876-79), who was succeeded by M. Alatri. The latter held the office until 1883, when he was succeeded by Tranquillo Ascarelli. In 1881 the community was reorganized, although it took two years before the statutes were enacted and duly sanctioned by the king. Two years later the ghetto was altogether in ruins. The Talmud Torah also was reorganized, Dr. Ehrenreich being appointed its principal.After his death (1890) Angelo Fornari became his successor. Vittore Castiglione, formerly of Triest, has been chief rabbi since 1904. Castiglione is a prolific writer both in Italian and in Hebrew; he has recently begun to publish an Italian translation of the Mishnah.
The five old synagogues, which are united under one roof, and in which both the Italian and the Spanish rituals were followed, are practically disused now and partly demolished as places of worship. A "New Temple" was erected in 1901. Rome has (1905) a total population of 463,000, of whom more than 7,000 are Jews.
- Grätz, Gesch. passim;
- Mommsen, Römische Geschichte, vol. , passim;
- Schürer, Gesch. vol.;
- Victor Schulze, Untergang des Gricchisch-Römischen Heidenthums, Jena, 1887;
- Winter, Stellung der Sclaven bei den Juden, Halle, 1886;
- Mansi, Concilia, , ,;
- Güdemann, Gesch. vol.;
- Gregorius, Gesch. der Stadt Rom im Mittelalter;
- Stern, Urkündliche Beiträge zur Stellung der Päpste zu den Juden;
- Berliner, Gesch. der Juden in Rom, Berlin, 1893;
- Vogelstein and Rieger, Gesch. der Juden in Rom;
- Berliner, Aus den Letzten Tagen des Römischen Ghetto, Berlin, 1888;
- Statuti dell' Università Israelitica di Roma, 1885;
- Hudson, A History of the Jews in Rome, London, 1884;
- Il Vessillo Israelitico, 46:50-51;
- Jewish Comment, Oct., 1901;
- Schechter, Studies in Judaism, 1895.
A number of INCUNABULA, Nos. 12-22 and 24, not dated, but probably printed before 1480, have never had their locality determined; but, considering that Rome was the first place in Italy where any printing was done, it has been conjectured that these works were all published at Rome and that possibly they may be earlier than the Rashi, the first dated Hebrew print. One of the printers' names was Benjamin of Rome, which seems to confirm this suggestion. Among the books thus printed was the 'Aruk, the greatest Hebrew work produced at Rome.
The earliest prints with the locality Rome actually determined are of 1518, when Elijah Levita's "Sefer ha-Baḥur" and "Sefer ha-Harkabah" were published by Faccioti de Montetchio, the Hebrew printing being done by three brothers, Isaac, Yom-Ṭob, and Jacob ben Abigdor. Six years later a Hebrew book was printed by one Antonio Bladao, who later, in the forties of the same century, printed three rabbinical works. In 1578 Francesco Zanetti, of the Venetian family of that name, printed various parts of the Bible at Rome. Lastly, the Congregation de Propaganda Fide published at Rome in 1683 the "Derek Emunah" of Julio Morossini, a conversionist work.
- Steinschneider, Jüdische Typographie, in Ersch and Gruber, Encyc. section , part 28, pp. 43-63;
- idem, Cat. Bodl. col. 3102.
These files are public domain.
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Rome'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tje/​r/rome.html. 1901.