RAVENNA, city in Emilia Romagna, N. central Italy. There is evidence that a Jewish settlement existed in Ravenna in the third and fourth centuries, probably the earliest Jewish community in the region. A piece of an amphora with the word "Shalom" written on it attests physically the Jewish presence, when Ravenna was the capital of Byzantine Italy. Around the beginning of the sixth century Ravenna became the capital of the kingdom of the Ostrogoths under Theodoric, who was well disposed toward the Jews. Thus in 519, after the Christian populace incited by the clergy burnt down the synagogue in Ravenna, Theodoric ordered that those responsible should pay compensation: persons who refused were to be publicly flogged. The early medieval Jewish community of Byzantine Ravenna probably consisted of merchants engaged in overseas commerce.
In 1352 there is mention of the first loan bank owned by Jews. When the Republic of Venice took control of Ravenna, a number of Jews immigrated. Ravenna Jews were goldsmiths, wine merchants, and hemp merchants. When Ravenna passed under the rule of the pope the situation of the Jews worsened. The vigilance committee of the Italian Jewish communities met at Ravenna in 1443 to consider measures to counteract the restrictive papal bull recently issued. The original nucleus had by now been joined by loan-bankers, whose lucrative activities continued until 1492 when a public loan-bank (*Monti di Pietà) was opened. In the same year the first expulsion occurred. The previous year the synagogue had been destroyed by the populace incited by the preaching of the *Franciscans, and the Jews had been attacked. Since Ravenna was now under the sovereignty of the Church, the anti-Jewish regulations issued by the popes in the second half of the 16th century were all enforced, and the Talmud was burned in 1553. Jews came back to Ravenna; thus in 1515 the General Council decreed the erection of a ghetto in the area where Via Luca Lunghi stands today. The Jews also erected a small synagogue. The Jews were expelled once more in 1555. In 1569, when Pope *Pius V ordered the Jews to leave the minor centers of the Papal States, the Jews were expelled from Ravenna. Thirty loan-bankers returned following the concessions made by *Sixtus V in 1587. In 1593, the Jews were again expelled by Clement VIII.
The Biblioteca Classense includes various manuscripts in Hebrew and a printed book, Sefer Kol Bo, dated to 1525. The book was printed in the workshop of Gershon Soncino at Rimini.
Not far from Ravenna at Piangipane, there is the Allied War Cemetery. Part of the burial ground includes the graves of the 34 soldiers of the Jewish Brigade Group who fought in the Senio area at Alfonisine di Romagna and Brisighella between March and April 1945.
L. Ruggini, Ebrei e orientali nell'Italia settentrionale… (= Studia et Documenta Historiae et Juris, 25 (1959), 186–308), index; A. Balletti, Gli ebrei e gli Estensi (19302), 18ff.; Roth, Italy, index; Milano, Italia, index; Loevinson, in: REJ, 94 (1933), 173–5. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY:M. Perani, "Frammenti di manoscritti ebraici medievali negli Archivi di Stato di Imola e Ravenna," in: La Bibliofilia, 13 (1991), 1–20; R. Segre, "Gli ebrei a Ravenna nell'eta' veneziana," in: Ravenna in eta' veneziana (1986), 155–70; A. Tedeschi Falco, Emilia Romagna, Jewish Itineraries, Places, History and Art (1992), 126.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.