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Judaica Europeana Jewish collections online
Number 8, 2016
Photo of the Ponte delle Guglie spanning the canal
Ponte delle Guglie in Venice by Wolfgang Moroder (own work), CC BY-SA 3.0. This 16th century bridge over the Cannaregio Canal leads to the Venetian Ghetto.

Detail  of a receipt
Receipt no. 145 (detail), Book of records and accounts of the Jewish community in Venice in the 18th century, Brandeis Institutional Repository. The digitization of this work was funded by a grant from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.
The Venice Ghetto: 500 years

An impressive programme of exhibitions, scholarly conferences, concerts, arts projects and theatre performances held throughout 2016 will mark the 500 years since the establishment of the Ghetto in Venice.

Our contribution to this quincentennial is to draw attention to the historic records digitized and integrated by Judaica Europeana in the Europeana portal. The most extensive collection came from our partners the Venice State Archives.

Treasures of Venetian Jewish heritage came also from the collections of other partners. The most recent addition is an 18th century Book of Receipts from the Ghetto’s Italian Synagogue made available by the Goldfarb Library at Brandeis University.

Venice imagined

In Venice, the programme of festivities celebrates the Ghetto as a place at the crossroads of cultures and traditions, which over the centuries has captivated the artistic imagination.

Renaissance Venice was famous for the printing of Hebrew books. Using the Venice Haggadah of 1609 as inspiration, an arts project of Beit Venezia (Casa della Cultura Ebraica) brought together eight European artists to work in a print studio and create a series of etchings for a new Venice Haggadah. The etchings will be exhibited at the Jewish Museum in Venice at Passover 2016 and the new Haggadah will be published in 2017.

A highlight of the year will be the exhibition due to open in June at the prestigious Doge’s Palace. Venice, the Jews and Europe 1516–2016 will present the history of the Ghetto with a focus on the reciprocal influences between the Jews and the wider society in Venice and around the Mediterranean. Among the rich variety of historic artefacts, there will be paintings which will bring to light how the Old Testament stories were anchored in the Veneto landscape in the artists’ imagination.

new Venice Haggadah etching
Etching on copper plate on the theme of Exodus by Kyra Munk Matustik for the new Venice Haggadah. The artist is a past grantee of our organisation, the European Association for Jewish Culture.


Decorated watercolour and ink ketubah

Another high point of the programme will be an imaginative performance of the Merchant of Venice staged in the Ghetto. This project of the Compagna de Colombari and Ca’ Foscari University will mark both the Ghetto’s quincentennial and the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

These and many other celebratory events testify to the vibrancy of the small Jewish community and show that Venice is a magnet for Jewish study and creativity.


Left: Ketubah, Venice, 1684, in Hebrew and Aramaic. Watercolour and ink on parchment, courtesy of The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Map showing buildings with legend of 16th century Venice
Map of sixteenth-century Venice, [Bolognino Zaltieri (Venetian, fl. 1550-80)], Facsimile of a hand-colored, copper engraving, 33.9 x 47.9cm, from volume 1 of George Braun and Frans Hogenberg, Civitates Orbis Terrarum (Cologne: Peter von Brachel, ca. 1623), OML Collection, Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education, University of Southern Maine, CC BY-SA 4.0.


Editor: Lena Stanley-Clamp, Designer: Catriona Sinclair, European Association for Jewish Culture, London
with contributions from the Venice State Archives and the Goldfarb Library at Brandeis University
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