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ORIA, small town near Brindisi in Apulia, S. Italy, formerly of great importance. The Jewish settlement probably went back to classical times, and Jewish sepulchral inscriptions have been found there. During the period of Byzantine rule, from the eighth century, the community was one of the most important in southern Italy, and a great deal is known about it because of the wealth of information contained in the chronicle of *Ahimaaz. This deals largely with the family of the synagogue poet Amittai of *Oria and his son *Shephatiah, who was inducted into practical mysticism in Oria by Aaron of *Baghdad. Shephatiah went on a mission to Constantinople in 873–74 to obtain the cancellation, at least so far as Oria was concerned, of the edict of conversion issued by the emperor Basil *I. In 925 the city was attacked by Arab marauders; some Jews were killed and many were enslaved, including the young Shabbetai *Donnolo. Other attacks followed during the same century. The Jewish community remained important until the 15th century, but thereafter it declined. The Porta degli Ebrei ("Jew's Gate") still stands at the entrance of the Jewish quarter (now Piazza Donnolo).


Roth, Dark Ages, index; Milano, Bibliotheca, index; idem, in: RMI, 32 (1966), 414ff.; P.B. Marsella, Da Oria viene la parola di Dio, saggio storico-critico… (1952); Marcus, in: PAAJR, 5 (1933/34), 85–94.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.