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Virtual Jewish World: Gorizia, Italy

GORIZIA, city in Friuli, N.E. Italy. Gorizia was part of the Austrian empire until 1918 though for centuries its culture had been Italian. Jews were first mentioned in the county in the years 1299–1363. Only in 1548, however, did Jews sign the first charter with the local authorities. In 1624 the first Jew from Gorizia, Joel Pincherle, obtained from Emperor Ferdinand II the title of Hoffaktor. In 1696 Emperor Leopold I legislated the erection of the ghetto, activated in 1698. The community followed the Ashkenazi rite. Until the 18th century the Jews of Gorizia were mostly moneylenders. The most important banking families were that of Pincherle, Gentili, and Morpurgo. In the 18th century Jews engaged in the manufacture of silk and wax (the latter by a certain Aron and the Morpurgo brothers), which dominated the city's economy. In 1756 the synagogue in the Via Ascoli was consecrated. After they had been expelled from the smaller Venetian towns in 1777, more Jews moved to Gorizia. The 1781 Toleranzpatent of Joseph II allowed the Jews to be even more integrated in civic life. In 1788 the town's Jewish population numbered 270.

The intellectual life of Gorizia Jews at the end of the 18th century and at the beginning of the 19th was dominated by the figures of two rabbis, Isacco Samuele Reggio and his son Abram Vita Reggio.

During the 19th century the community slowly developed. In 1846 there were 266 Jews living in Gorizia. In 1900 there were already 865 living there.

[Attilio Milano / Samuele Rocca (2nd ed.)]

Holocaust Period

In 1938, there were 183 Jews in Gorizia, mostly engaged in business, commerce, and services. Of these, 109 were Italians and 76 were foreigners, primarily from Central and Eastern Europe. Since the beginning of the century, the population of Gorizian Jews had decreased, that of foreign Jews had significantly increased, and assimilation had grown. A strong demographic decline occurred soon after the appearance of the racial laws of 1938, caused especially by the exodus of the foreign Jews and by conversions or withdrawal from the community. After the German occupation in September 1943, Jews most aware of the danger moved elsewhere or went into hiding, while the old, the sick, and those without adequate means remained at home and were arrested and deported. The first arrests and imprisonments occurred in September 1943. There followed the roundup of November 23, in which 22 people were arrested, imprisoned at Coroneo in Trieste, and deported to Auschwitz on December 7. In the following months, other Gorizian Jews who had gone into hiding there or in other Italian towns and cities, such as Ferrara, Florence, Genova, and San Cesario sul Panaro, were caught. In all, 47 Jews from Gorizia were deported, of whom only two, Iris Steinmann and Giacomo Jacoboni, returned. Because of the drastic decrease in the number of Jews in Gorizia after the war, the historic local Jewish nucleus of the Isonzo area was incorporated into the Jewish community of Trieste in 1969.

[Adonella Cedarmas (2nd ed.)]

Sources:G. Bolaffio, in: RMI, 23 (1957), 537–46; 24 (1958), 30–40, 62–74, 132–41; S.G. Cusin, and P.C.I. Zorattini, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Itinerari ebraici, I luoghi, la storia, l'arte (1998), 48–57; C.L. Budin, Vita e cultura ebraica nella Gorizia del Settecento, (1995); A. Cedarmas, La Comunità israelitica di Gorizia (1900–1945), Udine: Istituto Friulano per la Storia del Movimento di Liberazione (1999).

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