CENTO, small Italian town near Ferrara, north central Italy. Cento is probably the place of origin of the Meati family (100 = Heb. me'ah = cento in Italian), known from the 13th century as translators. In 1390 the banker Emanuele del Gaudio opened a small pawnshop. In the late 14th and 15th centuries the Jews in Cento were afforded protection by the house of Este. In 1598 Cento became subject to papal jurisdiction, with the rest of the duchy of Ferrara. A ghetto of intercommunicating houses with a central courtyard was built in 1636 in the center of the city (Via Provenzali and Via Malagodi), accommodating between 100 and 150 residents. There is documentation of the existence during the 17th century of two confraternities (the Gemilut Ḥasadim and the Talmud Torah) and of a cemetery. In 1727 the community received a new constitution and both societies were merged into the single Confraternita di Studi Sacri e di Misericordia. The principal synagogue existed already before 1636 and was restored in 1826. Even though sporadic attacks by the populace occurred during the ghetto period (i.e., in 1689 after the fall of Buda in Hungary), the Jews in Cento were left relatively in peace and did not confine themselves to
banking but also engaged in commerce and crafts. The family of Benjamin *Disraeli originated in Cento. The famous sociologist Leone *Carpi (1810–98) from Cento was a protagonist of the Italian Risorgimento, participating in the insurrections of the 1830s and 1840s. He was chosen by Giuseppe Mazzini as general secretary of the Constituente Romana and in 1850 became deputy of the first Italian Parliament. The community of Cento died out completely in the second half of the 20th century. In 1954 the ark of the synagogue was transferred to Netanyah in Israel and reconstructed in the Givat Meir Temple. In 2001 the area of the ghetto was completely restored and renovated by the municipality.
Pesaro, in: Vessillo Israelitico, 30 (1882), passim; Volli, in: RMI, 17 (1951), 205–9. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Gli Ebrei a Cento e Pieve di Cento fra medioevo ed eta moderna: atti del Convegno di studi storici: Cento, 22 aprile 1993 (1994); R. Romanelli, "Leone Carpi," in: A. Ghilsaberti (ed.), Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, vol. 20 (1977), 599–604.
[Federica Francesconi (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.