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The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia
Italian city on the River Po; formerly capital of the duchy of Savoy, and later of the kingdom of Sardinia; now (1905) the chief city of the province of like name. Jews were admitted to Turin in 1424, probably because they loaned money at a lower rate of interest than the Christians. The first Jew to settle with his family in the city in that year was Elia Alamandi. A statute of Amadeus VIII., dated June 17, 1430, obliged the Jews of the duchy to wear a badge of red cloth on the shoulder, forbade them to live among Christians, and prohibited them from building new synagogues, besides imposing other restrictions. The Jews were now compelled to live in the Via San Tommaso, near the so-called "Gamelotto." About this time originated the treaty or agreement between the duke of Savoy and the Hebrews. It was made for ten years only, but was renewable; it guaranteed to the Jews freedom of residence in Turin, and regulated their rights and privileges. Amadeus, besides, promulgated a special decree forbidding Christians to kill, wound, or flog the Hebrew residents, or to disturb them in their religious worship or festivals.
Under Emmanuel Philibert.
The reign of Emmanuel Philibert (1553-80) fell in a disastrous period for all the Italian Jews. Those of Piedmont alternately received concessions and suffered persecutions, according to the duke's need of money. On July 19, 1560, Emmanuel Philibert decreed the expulsion of all Jews from his dominions; but their own entreaties and the intercession made in their behalf by the Duchess Margherita secured for them a respite of four months. One of the duke's councilors, Negron de Negri of Genoa, urged his master to renew the decree of expulsion and to insist upon the departure of the Jews within ten days. Fortunately, however, the kindly intervention of an official at the ducal tribunal obtained the revocation of the decree; and the duke made an agreement with the Jews under which they were still permitted to inhabit Piedmont. Very soon after, however (Oct., 1566), Emmanuel Philibert again issued a decree ordering the departure of the Jews from his domains within a space of fifteen days unless they paid down 40,000 gold florins. The Jews at once quitted his dominions, but on the payment of half the sum demanded they were permitted to return. They then executed a new agreement under which they pledged themselves to pay a yearly tax of 1,500 gold florins. By another decree (Sept. 4, 1572) Emmanuel Philibert, at the request of Vitale Sacerdoti, introduced some favorable alterations into the statutes of Amadeus VIII. Among other things, the Jews were permitted to enjoy the right of "ḥazaḳah" and of owning real estate. Simon, a brother of Sacerdoti, was sent by the duke in the same year to Constantinople to propose the establishment of a consulate there. Emmanuel. Philibert furthermore granted the Jews the right of assembling once a year (for religious purposes), and of owning a special piece of land as a cemetery.
In the Seventeenth Century.
At Philibert's death his son, Charles Emmanuel I., ascended the throne (1580-1630). Cardinal Borromeo of Milan urged him to expel the Hebrews again from his dominions. He yielded, however, to the entreaties of the latter, and made a new contract with them, allowing them to remain in the country on certain conditions. He also confirmed the privileges granted them by his father, and placed them under the jurisdiction of a specially appointed judge called the "conservatore." The first "conservatore" was the senator Gasparo Tesauro, Marquis of Fossiano. Charles Emmanuel also repealed the obligation, imposed on the Jews in 1560, of paying a yearly sum of 25 scudi to the students of the university on St. Catherine's Day. He twice renewed the decree forbidding Christians to molest the Jews or to offend them by disturbing their religious functions (Dec. 15, 1603, and Oct. 20, 1610). In the first instance he also agreed, on condition of a donation of 60,000 scudi payable in twelve years beginning with 1604, that the Jews should engage unmolestedly in trade and commerce, and should not be more heavily taxed than other citizens. Further, he allowed them to lend on pledges, which had been forbidden them by Amadeus VIII. This was, however, regulated by special laws. The tribunals were required to recognize the trustworthiness of the books in which the Jews entered their contracts. Permission was further granted the Jews to meet twice a year to elect their leaders and to arrange for the payment of the tribute due the state. In order to raise this tribute the Jewish community was allowed to tax all Hebrews who came to reside within the limits of the state.Physicians and surgeons were allowed to follow their professions, subject, however, to the consent of the Archbishop of Turin. Finally, he granted a full pardon for all crimes, offenses, and infractions of the law committed up to the day of publication of the decree on condition of the payment of 2,000 ducats volunteered by certain members of the community, namely, G. Lattes, M. Jarach, C. and S. Melle, and S. Brisa, who were afterward exempted from wearing the distinctive badge. In Aug., 1612, a Jew named Leone Segre was murdered in the enclosure of the ghetto. The Jews accused of this deed were liberated on the payment of 50,000 "ducantoni." In 1614 all sentences then being served were remitted in consequence of the payment of 18,000 "ducantoni."
In 1618 the Jewish community of Piedmont was united with that of the city and territory of Nizza. In 1626 the residence of the Jews was changed, and the district at that time called "San Giovanni di Dio" was assigned to them. In 1640 Victor Amadeus I., at the request of M. Treves, L. Lattes, and A. Levi, confirmed all the rights and privileges granted to the Jews by his predecessors. At the instance of the Jewish community, which presented him with 3,300 lire, these privileges were further confirmed by the Senate on the occasion of the marriage of Charles Emmanuel II. in 1662. In 1680, by an order of the regent, Madama Reale, dated Aug. 12, 1679, the site of the ghetto was again changed, this time to the quarter of Beatus Amadeus; and here the Jews continued to dwell until 1828, in which year certain wealthy families obtained leave to reside beyond the ghetto limits. In 1706 the Jewish cemetery situated near the arsenal was destroyed by the chances of war, and the Jews obtained leave to bury their dead in San Giovanni di Dio, abandoned in 1680 (in 1782 this cemetery became part of the Vanchiglia district, near the River Po; and at length, in 1854, it was incorporated with the common cemetery).
In the Eighteenth Century.
The condition of the Jews of Piedmont was no better during the eighteenth century, owing to the intolerant spirit shown by the papal government. Indeed, their legal status became in some respects considerably worse. For instance, Victor Amadeus II. wished to deprive them of the power of acquiring landed property. He therefore enforced the constitutions of the years 1723, 1729, and 1770, which, like so many of the ducal laws, were hostile to the interests of the Jews. A certain Luigi Pisani of Jerusalem, formerly a rabbi, but later converted to Christianity, preached a sermon to the Jews of Turin on Feb. 7, 1715, in the church of San Francesco di Paola, to demonstrate to them "the blindness, error, and falseness which enveloped them." In 1780 there were about 1,500 Jews in Turin.
The first indications of the approach of better times for the Jews came with the French Revolution; but the provisional Austro-Russian-Piedmontese government (May, 1799) demanded a stricter observance of all the laws and regulations than had been exacted of the Jews before the Revolution, and subjected the entire community to heavy penalties for the slightest infraction. On the return of French domination, the Jews of Turin obtained from the imperial government equality with their French coreligionists; but upon the restoration the old restrictions soon came into force again. Jewish students were expelled from the schools; and the proprietary classes were allowed five years in which to sell their possessions. At length, by a decree dated March 6, 1816, Victor Emmanuel I. finally exempted the Jews from wearing a distinctive badge, and gave them full liberty to engage in trade, commerce, and the useful arts. They were still excluded, however, from the universities, from municipal offices, and from the administration of works of charity. But better times were approaching. In 1848 a pamphlet, entitled "Dell' EmancipazioneCivile degl' Israeliti," by the Marquis Massimo d' Azeglio of Turin, later minister of the kingdom of Sardinia, appeared in Florence, and was followed by the statute of March 4 of that year. On July 19, 1848, a law was passed declaring the equality of Jews with other citizens.
The following rabbis of note were natives of Turin: sixteenth century: Nethaneel ben Shabbethai ha-Dani; seventeenth century: Joseph Calvo, Daniel ben Joseph Calvo, and Joseph ben Michael Ravenna; eighteenth century: Joshua Colon, Isaac Formiggini, Abraham Sanson ben Jacob ha-Levi Fubini, Michel Solomon Jonah, Gabriel Pontremoli, Jacob ben Joshua Benzion Segre, Abraham ben Judah Segre, Daniel Valabrega; nineteenth century: Abraham de Cologna, Felice Bachi, Elijah Aaron Lattes, Samuel Solomon Olper, Isaiah Foâ Lelio della Torre, Sabbato Graziadio Treves, Giuseppe Lattes, Samuel Ghiron, G. Foa, and G. Bolaffio.
The Jews of Turin in 1901 numbered 5,700.
- M. Finzi, in Rivista Israelitica, 1:226 et seq.;
- Mortara, Indice, passim;
- G. Sacerdoti, in Vessillo Israelitico, 1901, pp. 245 et seq.;
- Volino, Condizioni Giuridiche Degli Israeliti in Piemonte Prima dell' Emancipazione, Turin, 1904;
- Joseph ha-Kohen, 'Emeḳ ha-Baka, ed. Wiener, pp. 102, 105, 126;
- R. E. J. 5:231.
These files are public domain.
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Turin'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tje/t/turin.html. 1901.