24111_370368156526_244204026526_3853077_4731661_nThe Jewish of Rome Jews have inhabited Rome for over 2000 years, since the Second century before the Common Era. In the year 70, with the influx of slaves brought into Rome by Titus after the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, the Jewish community grew considerably larger. The Jewish catacombs and the Ostia Antica synagogue, the last remaining one at that time, date back to this period.

In the Middle Ages, Rome hosted an important Rabbi scholar academy, and the community boasted prominent scientists and culture pundits, capable of putting in communication the Latin culture with the Islamic one. In 1492 the Jewish diaspora from Spain favored Rome as a meeting place of two important yet different traditions, the local one and the Iberian one.

In 1553 the burning of the Talmud was ordered, with it the prohibition to possess and read from it. This contributed to the cultural decadence of Roman Judaism. In 1555 Pope Paul IV of the Carafa dynasty segregated all the Jews located in the Church State inside the ghetto, where they were forced to reside, effectively losing their civil rights. They could not own real estate, choose their profession, nor entertain friendly relations with Christians.

The Rome ghetto grew on the banks of the river Tiber, an area which was subject to flooding and disease-prone. Within its confines lived, at various times, between 3,000 and 7,000 people, in harsh conditions and under the constant threat of forced baptism. The population of the ghetto was made up of small artisans, second-hand sellers and also bankers and entrepreneurs who profited from the rental of art and furnishings.

In 1870, with the suppression of the Church State, Rome was annexed to Italy, the ghetto was opened and soon razed to the ground. The Roman Jews began thus their emancipation, which were however interrupted by Fascist racial laws starting in 1938. In 1943 Nazi troops entered the city, and deported 2,091 Roman Jews. After WWII the Jewish community struggled to rise once again after such grief. In 1967 with the arrival of numerous refugees from Libya, the Roman Jewish community further expanded to 14,000 souls and has since then remained stable at this number.

The Jews of Rome subsequently suffered a despicable terrorist act in 1982 which cost the life of a small child and in which many were wounded; and rejoiced in 1986 for the visit of Pope John Paul II in the Synagogue.

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