In five Roma Judaica
lectures you will be taken on a historical survey from antiquity
to the present day. You will explore Jewish life in Rome during
the Romans, the growth of Christianity and how it affected
the Jews, the flourishing Jewish culture during the Renaissance
and the 300 years, 1555-1870, when the Roman Jews were confined
to a ghetto. In one lecture I explain how fascism affected
the Jews in Italy, about the racial laws and how the church
reacted towards them. I will also tell you how many Jews were
saved in convents and other religious institutions during
the Nazi occupation and about todays dialogue across
the borders of religion starting after the Second Vatican
Council in 1962-1965
In Rome the Synagogue is older than the Church – the Jews in Rome during Classical Antiquity
40 000 Jews, thirteen synagogues, six catacombs, special privileges by Julius Caesar – this is the Jewish history in Rome during Classical Antiquity. It is Europe's oldest Jewish congregation, which has survived without interruption for 2000 years. Many Jews came to Rome as tradesmen but most came as slaves after Jerusalem's fall and the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.
Life in the Ghetto – the Papal Bull which kept the Jews in the Ghetto for 300 years.
It is absurd and extremely inappropriate that the Jews, who by their own faults have been condemned to eternal slavery... Thus begins Nimis Absurdum, the Papal Bull which in 1555 condemned the Roman and Italian Jews to 300 years of ghetto life. This concluded the flourishing Jewish culture during the Renaissance and the poor life in the ghetto began.
The Jews and the Pope – a long and troublesome Story
- You are our elder brethren, Pope John Paul II said when he, as the first Pope ever, visited the Great Synagogue in Rome in April 1986. The short journey from the Vatican to the Synagogue had taken nearly 2000 years, from the introduction of Christianity in the year 380 to Nostra Aetate (Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions) in 1965 by Pope Paul VI, the document which changed the relation of the Catholic Church towards Jews and Judaism.
The Jews in Italy during Fascism and Nazi-German Occupation
It wasn't really dangerous to be a Jew in Italy during Fascism and Nazi-German occupation, was it? The Italian Jews were saved, weren't they? And how was it in fact with Pope Pius XII? And Mussolini wasn't anti-Semitic, was he? The myths about what happened in Italy during these years are many. Are they true? What in fact happened?
Are there still Jews in Sicily?
They came with the Romans, maybe earlier, and stayed until 1492, when they were expelled. During 1500 years the Jews formed the most stable national minority in Sicily and Jewish culture flourished. Today many Christians in Sicily search their Jewish roots. A Jewish ritual bath, a Mikve, dating from the 6th Century has been discovered in Siracusa and a Synagogue has been established, the first in 500 years.