Padua, capital of Padua province, N. Italy. In documents dated 1134 and 1182 two or three persons with the surname Judaeus are mentioned, although some scholarly opinion holds that they were not Jews. In 1289 the physician Jacob Bonacosa, a Jew, translated *Averroes' Colliget, a medical text. Several loan banks were founded by Jews who came from various parts of Italy, such as Pisa, Roma, Bologna, and Ancona in the 1360s, and in the 1380s and 1390s from Germany and Spain. In 1380 Jewish bankers were responsible for three powerful loan and trading concerns with a capital investment of 20,000 ducats. Taxation imposed by Padua's rulers, the Carraras, was not heavy, and the populace was normally tolerant of the Jews. The community grew rapidly in wealth and social position; there was a synagogue and cemetery. In 1405 Padua became part of the Venetian republic. In 1415 an attempt was made by the Venetian authorities at the request of the Paduan city council to lower the interest rate of Jewish loan bankers to between 12% and 15%. The attempt was opposed vigorously by the Jewish bankers who closed their places of business in retaliation. The strike was backed by students who were deprived of their source of credit. During the first years of Venetian rule Jewish economic progress continued at a rapid pace. Their situation deteriorated, however, in the second quarter of the century. In part due to internal difficulties within the Venetian republic increasing pressure was directed against the economic status and legal position of the Jewish community. In 1420 the authorities imposed a lower rate of interest.
The situation of the loan bankers gradually worsened and they were expelled from the city in 1456. A major role in the expulsion of the bankers was taken by John *Capistrano and his followers. The rest of the community was not expelled, however, and a Jewish loan banker returned to the city by 1468. Jewish moneylending was officially permitted again in 1483. In 1475, when rumors spread about a blood libel at *Trent, the Jews of Padua were set upon by the mob, despite appeals by the senate. Tempers rose again in 1491 when the populace was incited by Bernardino de *Feltre and other Franciscan monks. Influenced by the monks, the town council sought several times to expel the Jews. The opening of the first Monte di *Pietà in 1492 did not adversely affect the economic status of the loan bankers. in 1509, led by Maximilian I of Hapsburg, the Lansquenets descended upon Italy. Jewish property was sacked, first by Austrians and afterward by the returning Venetian soldiers. Two leading bankers, Vita Meshullam and Naphtali Herz Wertheim, were completely ruined and Jewish loans ran to a total of about 15,000 ducats. The development of the community's inner life continued during the 16th century and its legal status was strengthened despite the numerous ways in which Jews were publicly degraded. In 1547 the republic of Venice ordered Jewish banks closed so as not to compete with the local Monte di Pietà. The Jews successfully turned to commerce; there were Jewish proprietors in many of the town shops, especially those dealing in jewelry, cloth, and drapery.
Early in the 16th century the Jews were ordered to live in their own quarter, but they were not completely restricted to a ghetto and some of the wealthier families lived among Christians on the most elegant streets. The idea of establishing a ghetto similar to those in Rome or Venice was decided on between 1581 and 1584 but not actually put into effect until 1601. The district itself centered around a small square where the synagogue was situated. There were five gates to the ghetto, one of which was surmounted by a tablet with an inscription in Latin and Hebrew prohibiting both Jews and Christians from coming near the ghetto's gates at night. Until 1715 Jews were compelled to listen to malevolent anti-Jewish sermons in the churches. Giving in to various pressures, the town council allowed the burning of the Talmud and other Hebrew books in 1556. Nevertheless, Padua remained an important center for Hebrew studies by virtue of its rabbinical academies and the fact that Jews were drawn there from all over Europe to study in its university.
In 1616 the Jewish population of Padua numbered 665, chiefly engaged in the silk industry. The community suffered gravely from a plague, 421 of the 721 Jews dying in 1630–31. In 1688 the community of Padua helped ransom 600 Jews of Belgrade who had been captured and maltreated by the Imperial
When the French troops entered Padua on April 29, 1797, the Jews were temporarily emancipated; in August the central government decreed that Jews were free to reside wherever they wished. The ghetto was renamed Via Libera ("Liberty Way") and its gates taken down. From 1805 to 1814 Padua was part of Napoleon's kingdom of Italy; R. Isaac Raphael b. Elisha *Finzi took part in the Paris *Sanhedrin convened by the emperor. However, when the Austrians entered Padua in January 1814, the populace attacked the Jews, who were considered friends of the French. Having to appear satisfied with the change of regime, the Jews celebrated the entrance of the Austrians in the German synagogue. After the Treaty of Vienna (in 1815), when Padua again came under Austrian rule, the Jews were allowed to enjoy practically all rights, except that of serving in public office. In 1840 the Jewish population of Padua numbered 910. Full emancipation was obtained only in 1866, when Padua once more became part of the kingdom of Italy. By 1881, the Jewish population had risen to 1,378; thereafter, however, the cultural and social life of the community deteriorated and by 1911 the number had decreased to 881. Because of discrimination affecting all Italian Jewry, the Jews of Padua either left for other Italian centers or emigrated to other countries, among them Ereẓ Israel; by 1938 their number had further declined to 586.
There were three synagogues in Padua. One of German rite, which was opened in 1525, served also as a bet midrash for the whole community from 1682. In the same year the Ashkenazi synagogue, or Scuola grande, was inaugurated. In 1892 the Scuola adopted the Italian rite. In 1943 the building was severely damaged by a bomb, and in 1960 its huge ark was taken to the Yad Eliyahu Synagogue in Tel Aviv. The third synagogue, of Sephardi rite, built in 1617 on the initiative of the influential Marini family, was closed down in 1892. In 1958 its ark was taken to Hechal Shelomo in Jerusalem. The synagogue of Italian rite, built in 1548 and completed later in the 16th century, closed down in 1892. It was reopened after World War II and in 1970 was the only synagogue in the city.
Until the close of the 18th century the administrators of the Jewish community were chosen according to their country of origin; in 1577 there was a "general assembly" (capitolo generale), a "directional council" (capitolo ristretto), and three parnassim or memunim. Internal laws for all aspects of life, social or spiritual, were based on talmudic law until the French conquest. A statute was drawn up by the community in 1815 (revised in 1826 and recognized by Venice in 1828), requiring members to pay taxes proportionate to their incomes. The statute was modified again in 1832, 1841, and 1866, and finally thoroughly revised on the initiative of S.D. Luzzatto. The new regulations took effect from Jan. 27, 1894, and remained in use until replaced by a comprehensive law for all the Jewish communities in 1930. The community maintained relations with Erez Israel, especially through emissaries sent to Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed, and Tiberias. In 1713 a philanthrophic society, the fraternity of Lomedei Torah ve-Shomerei Mitzvah, was founded, whose members paid a relatively high admission fee and made a fixed annual contribution. In return, in case of illness members received medical and surgical assistance, plus a daily allowance for the duration of illness; expenses for funerals and burial were also defrayed by the fraternity. This fraternity was still in existence in 1970, side by side with the brotherhood Malbish Arumim, the "S.D. Luzzatto Cultural Circle," and branches of various Zionist movements.
Of particular importance in the Padua community was academic activity. Jews studied medicine simultaneously with Torah. From 1519 to 1619 about 80 Jews obtained degrees in medicine in Padua, and from 1619 to 1721, 149 Jews graduated as physicians. Numbers of Jews from Germany, Poland, and the Levant also came to study in Padua. Some pressure was exerted by Christian doctors and the ecclesiastical authorities, so that the senate prohibited Jewish doctors from practicing outside the ghetto, but this was not too strictly applied. Jewish medical students were allowed to wear the black beret of their colleagues, rather than the yellow one required of other Jews (see Jewish *Badge). Among those students who distinguished themselves particularly were Moses Abba Delmedigo, physician and philosopher, and Abraham b. Meir de *Balmes of Lecce.
In the field of Hebrew studies, Padua was of particular importance in the second half of the 15th century, under the guidance of Judah *Minz, one of the major rabbinical authorities of that period. Judah was followed by his son, Aaron Minz, and by his brother-in-law, Meir *Katzenellenbogen, whose responsa constitute a vital source for the history of the Jews of that time. Other prominent figures in Padua were Meir b. Ezekiel ibn *Gabbai, Menahem Delmedigo, Jonathan b. *Treves, Raphael b. Joshua Zarefati, Jacob b. Moses Levi, Benzion b. Raphael, and Judah b. Moses Fano (16th century); Isaac Hayyim *Cantarini, Samuel de *Archivolti, Aryeh and Abraham Cattalani, Judah b. Samuel Cantarini, Solomon and Shabbetai b. Luzzatto, Judah b. Samuel Cantarini, Samuel and Hayyim Moses *Cantarini, Solomon and Shabbetai b. Luzzatto,
In 1563 Meir b. Ezekiel b. Gabbai's Derekh Emunah was printed by Lorenzo Pasquato of Padua, with Samuel Boehm serving as proofreader. This was followed by Shem Tov b. Shem Tov's Derashot ha-Torah in 1567. A conference of Italian communities convened at Padua in 1585 to consider a new approach to Pope Sixtus V on the question of printing the Talmud, then available only in a censored and emasculated edition. In 1622 Hebrew printing was continued in Padua by Gaspare (later Giu lio) Crivellari, who printed Jacob Heilprin's Nahalat Ya'akov, followed in the same year by the printing of Kinot Eikhah, printed by Abraham Catalono, and Leon de Modena's Hebrew-Italian dictionary, Galut Yehudah (1640–42). In the 19th century Antonio Bianchi printed S.D. Luzzatto's Isziah (1885) and other works, between 1834 and 1879. Francesco Sacchetto printed Luzzatto's Pentateuch commentary in 1872.
In 1931 the community of Padua had a Jewish population of 586. In 1941 the interior of the Scuola grande was desecrated by Fascist bands. Between 1943 and 1945 more than 85 Jews, among whom was Rabbi Eugenio Cohen Sacerdoti, were sent to extermination camps. After the war (1948) there were 269 Jews in Padua and their number had declined to 220 by 1970.
A. Ciscato, Gli Ebrei in Padua (1801); Milano, Bibliotheca, index, S.V. Padova; Milano, Italia, index; G. Gabrieli, Italia Judaica (1924), index; Roth, Italy, index; C. Roth, Venice (1930), index; U. Cassuto, Gli Ebrei a Firenze (1918), index; J. Pinkerfeld, Battei Keneset be-Italyah (1954), index; D. Carpi, "Ha-Yehudim be-Padova bi-Tekufat ha-Renaissance" (unpublished doctoral dissertation, Hebrew, Jerusalem, 1967), Fr. summary; idem, in: RMI, 28 (1962), 47–60; 32 (1966), nos. 9–10, 1–306; P.C.I. Zorattini, ibid., 34 (1968), 582–91; A. Modena and E. Morpurgo, Medici e Chirurgi Ebrei… nell'Università di Padova… (1967); C. Roth, Il Purim di Buda (1934); U. Nahon, Aronot Kodesh… (1970); Z. Shazar, Ha-Tikvah li-Shenat HaTaK (1970); D.W. Amram, Makers of Hebrew Books in Italy (1909), index; H.D. Friedberg, Toledot ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Italyah (19562), 83f.
[Alfredo Mordechai Rabello]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.