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Virtual Jewish World: Forlì, Italy

Forlì is a city in North-central Italy with a Jewish history that likely dates back to at least the mid-13th century.

Around 1280, the Jewish philosopher Hillel ben Samuel of Verona wrote his Tagmulei ha-Nefesh in Forlì. By the 14th century a number of Jewish loan bankers were established in the city and in 1373 Bonaventura Consiglio and a partner lent 8,000 ducats to Amadeo, count of Savoy, on the security of his crown and other valuables.

Representatives of the communities of central and northern Italy met in Forlì in 1418 to discuss the raising of a fund for self-defense; they also passed a series of sumptuary regulations to limit shows of luxury and extravagance. Their action was probably decisive in obtaining the protection of Pope Martin V, which he extended in the papal bull of January 31, 1419.

From the late 14th through the 15th century, several Jewish physicians lived in Forlì and a number of Hebrew manuscripts were copied there. In 1488, anti-Jewish disorders broke out - Jewish loan banks were sacked and the loan bankers were forced to leave the city. Subsequently, however, their activities were resumed.

At the beginning of the 16th century the papal government assumed the administration of the city, and in 1569 the community in Forlì ceased to exist with the expulsion of the Jews from the towns of the Papal States, though some craftsmen also lived there during the 16th and 17th centuries.

A Jewish presence in the area of Romagna, and also in Forlì, is documented from the Napoleonic era.

In 1938, fifteen families in Forlì - and 98 people in the entire province - were considered Jewish. The Nazis built and operated a concentraton camp in Forli to which many Jews from Rome and its surrounding areas were sent. The camp was in operation was 1943 until its liberation on November 13, 1944. In September 1944, the Nazis massacred 33 people at the airport of Forlì, including 19 Jews.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved; Garzanti, in: Romagna, 5 (1908), 266–79; Roth, ltaly, index; Milano, Italia, index; Milano, Bibliotheca, index; Finkelstein, Middle Ages, 281ff. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: G. Caravita, Ebrei in Romagna: 1938–1945: dalle leggi razziali allo sterminio (1991); L. Picciotto, Il libro della memoria: gli ebrei deportati dall'Italia, 1943–1945 (2001).