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BOLOGNA, city of north central Italy. There is documented evidence of a Jewish presence since 1353, when the Jewish banker Gaius Finzi from Rome took up his residence in the quartier of Porta Procola. In the second half of the 14th century around 15 Jewish families settled in the city. In 1416, at the time of the papal election, a vigilance committee of Jewish notables from various parts of Italy met in Bologna to discuss the submission of an official letter to Pope Martin V in order to improve the condition of the Jews. In 1417 the bishop of Bologna compelled the Jews there to wear the Jewish *badge and to limit their activities as loan bankers. The restrictions were confirmed in 1458. Nevertheless, the community flourished. In 1473 *Bernardino da Feltre secured the establishment of a public loan bank (*Monte di Pietà) in order to undermine the activities of the Jews. It functioned for a short time only, but further attempts were made to establish one in 1505 and 1532. Thanks to new waves of immigration, the Jewish community of Bologna increased to around 650 in these years. They were involved in loan banking, commerce (silk, secondhand textiles, jewelry), medicine, and cultural life.

In the 15th–16th centuries the Bologna community included many rabbis and noted scholars, including Obadiah *Sforno, Jacob *Mantino, Azariah de' *Rossi, and Samuel *Archivolti. There were 11 synagogues in Bologna in the middle of the 16th century, even more than in Rome. In 1546 there already existed two fraternal societies, the "Ḥevrat ha-Nizharim" and the "Ḥevrat Raḥamim."

A Hebrew press printed the Book of Psalms in 1477 (its first book), with commentary by D. Kimḥi, in an edition of 300 copies. Among the printers were Meister Joseph and his son, Ḥayyim Mordecai, and Hezekiah of Ventura. About the same time – between 1477 and 1480 – they printed two small-size editions of the Book of Psalms.

Two other Hebrew printing presses were set up in Bologna, the first under the supervision of *Abraham b. Ḥayyim dei Tintori of Pesaro (see *Incunabula) operating in 1477–82 and the second of silk makers and intellectuals (among them Obadiah Sforno) operating in 1537–41. In 1482 the first edition of the Pentateuch with Onkelos and Rashi and the Five Scrolls with commentaries were printed. Only the Pentateuch bears the city's name. In 1537 a siddur of the Roman rite, mostly on parchment, and some other works were printed (i.e., Or Ammim by Sforno in 1537 and Piskei Halakhot by Moses Recanati in 1538) and in 1540/41 a maḥzor of the same rite appeared with commentary by Joseph *Treves. The university library owns an important collection of Hebrew manuscripts and early editions.

Bologna reverted to direct papal rule in 1513, and not long after the community began to suffer from the consequences of the Counter-Reformation. In 1553 the Talmud and other Hebrew works were burned on the instructions of Pope Julius III. In 1556 *Paul IV issued an order confining Jewish residence to a ghetto. In 1566 the ghetto was established in a central area of the city, behind the Two Towers. Pius V established a House of *Catechumens in Bologna in 1568 and in the following year Bologna was among the towns of the papal states from which the Jews were banished. More than 800 Jews were forced to leave, paying in addition the enormous fine of 40,000 scudi. The cemetery was given to the nuns of S. Pietro, who completely destroyed it in order to use the land. As a result of the apparently more liberal attitude of Sixtus V, Jews returned to Bologna in 1586, but in 1593, 900 Jews were expelled again by Clement VIII. On this occasion they removed the bones of their dead, which they reburied in the cemetery of Pieve di Cento.

Subsequently Jews were not able to settle officially in Bologna for two centuries. Foreign Jews occasionally were allowed accommodation in the central Osteria del Cappello Rosso inn. In 1796, in the period after the French conquests, several Jews went to live there. They later suffered from the renewed papal rule, and their position progressively deteriorated until in 1836 some of them who belonged to the Italian Risorgimento movement were again expelled. It was in Bologna that the kidnapping of the child Edgardo *Mortara took place in 1858, an affair that aroused the civilized world. When the city was annexed to Piedmont in 1859, equal rights were granted to the Jews and they fully participated to the cultural, economic, and social life of the city: Luigi Luzzati and Attilio Muggia were among the founders of two important charitable institutions, respectively the "Società cooperativa degli operai" (1867) and the "Casa provinciale del lavoro (1887)"; Amilcare Zamorani founded and owned the daily newspaper Il Resto del Carlino (1885). The family of Lazzaro Carpi, who participated actively in the Italian Risorgimento, strongly supported the Jewish community and organized the first prayer room in their home in 1859. During the 1870s the Jewish community established a new synagogue active until 1929 when a new one was built in the same place.


Ravà, in: L'Educatore Israelita, 20 (1872), 237–42, 295–301; 21 (1873), 73–79, 140–4, 174–6; 22 (1874), 19–21, 111–3, 296–8; Sonne, in: HUCA, 16 (1941), 35–98; Roth, Italy, index; Milano, Italia, index; H.D. Friedberg, Toledot ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Italyah (19562), 28ff.; D.W. Amram, Makers of Hebrew Books in Italy (1909), 47f.; A.M. Habermann, Ha-Sefer ha-Ivri be-Hitpatteḥuto (1968), 84, 121; L. Ruggini, in: Studia et Documenta Historia et Juris, 25 (1959), 186–308 (It.), index. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: I. Pini, "Famiglie, insediamenti e banchi ebraici a Bologna e nel Bolognese nella seconda metà del Trecento," in: Quaderni Storici, 22/54 (1983), 783–814; M.G. Muzzarelli (ed.), Verso l'epilogo di una convivenza: gli ebrei a Bologna nel XVI secolo (1996); N.S. Onofri, Ebrei e fascismo a Bologna (1989); L. Bergonzini, La svastica a Bologna settembre 1943–aprile 1945 (1998): D. Mirri and S. Arieti, La cattedra negata (2002). A. Grattarola, "Gli ebrei a Bologna tra XVIII e XX secolo," in: F. Bonilauri and V. Maugeri (ed.), Museo Ebraico di Bologna. Guida ai percorsi storici (2002); L. Pardo, La sinagoga di Bologna. Vicende e prospettive di un luogo e di una presenza ebraica (2001).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.