The Jewish Ghetto in Rome

The Jewish Ghetto in Rome 350 262 Sarity Gervais

Rome, is a tourist&amprsquos delight, whatever their religion. Situated in the Central Western part of Italy, on the banks of the Tiber river. It has a vast collection of antiquities and culture, art and architecture, the kind of which harkens back to the Ancient Roman Empire. The city also has a vibrant modern elements, which keep up with the most happening Metropolis in the world. It&amprsquos known as the home of the Vatican, with the Pope at it&amprsquos helm, , but has a long, sometimes difficult Jewish history.

There is a plethora of ancient Roman baths, multitude of museums that cover the city&amprsquos art and history, and multiple grand plazas (piazzas). Many of these sport glorious fountains ,such as The Piazza del Spagna, (has been the backdrop of many films, including Fellini&amprsquos La Dolce Vita). This plaza is one of the most romantic places in the city,and is a favorite public meeting place. It home to the remarkable Barcaccia Fountain, a fountain of great beauty designed by Bernini. The Spanish Steps flow from the piazza with 137 marble steps,12 different flights and a wide and very tall stairway.

The Pantheon is by far the best reserved building from the Roman Empire. It&amprsquos the greatest known example of ancient Rome. It was completed in 27 BC, surviving 2000 yrs of pillaging and conquest.

St. Peter&amprsquos Basica, the world&amprsquos largest church, took 100 yrs o complete, and houses Michelangelos greatest sculpture, La Pieta.

The most famous of the world&amprsquos Al Fresco art, is the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo. Most of the 7 scenes are from the Torah, the artis&amprsquos preferred resource.

One of the most inspirational places in Rome is the Jewish Ghetto. It was established in 1555, the site of both relentless persecution and undying pride of close-knit community. All the Jews, no matter how educated or wealthy, had to stay within it&amprsquos walls. The majority of people were poor and forbidden to practice medicine. They had to live in cramped quarters, under inhuman conditions. In addition they were required to wear a yellow hat or stripes on their chest. Jews had to be home by dusk, when the 3 huge gates locked. The area was the least desirable place in Rome with a constant threat of flooding by the Tiber river. To make matters worse, they were forced to attend compulsory Catholic services at church,on the Sabbath. For all these &ampldquoprivileges&amprdquo they had to pay a heavy yearly tax. Hygene was hard maintain, because of the severe crowding and poverty. During The Black plague, the Jewish Ghetto lost almost a quarter of it’s populace. In the 19th century , Italy&amprsquos Unification, caused most of the Old Ghetto to be torn down,, though many of the old stores, museums,synagogue and other relics of the Roman Jewish Past.

Ponte Fabriccio, also nicknamed &ampldquoThe Jew’s Bridge&amprdquo, is so called because that was the bridge the Jewish people used to get into town to conduct business, until curfew. At one point over 300,000 lived in a thriving community at Trasteverere. They thrived despite living in a flood zone, since today&amprsquos embankments were built only at the late 19th century.

During second world war most Jews perished in the camps, under Mussollini.

The ones who returned moved into homes outside of the Old Ghetto, very few maintained residence inside the district.

Today the neighborhood has become one of a most charming areas in Rome. The once narrow streets with hardly a slice of sky have gotten wide. Filled with the warmth of the Mediteranean it was rebuilt and those who were too poor to move elsewhere after the segregation ended, were forced out.It&amprsquos filled the best of Kosher restaurants and serves up some of the best food in Italy, such as the Jewish-Italian fried artichokes and other cross cultural dishes. It&amprsquos filled with gems of museums and a beautiful synagogue, which used to house 5 separate congregations, as the different sects were forced to coexist under the roof of the one synagogue they were permitted to build. 300 year of isolation created a jewish-Roman dialect, which is a mix of Italian w hebrew words

Since the whole Ghetto covers only 6 blocks, it&amprsquos easy to tour on foot this district, which is considered the most chic, eclectic neighborhoods.

People come here for some of the best Kosher Dining in town, small private bakeries, almost as old as the ghetto itself, the best pizza anywhere and a deep sense of history, evident despite the hip vibe of the place

Fore information on our Kosher Vacation cruises you can contact us here.

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