Italy - Rome Jewish Ghetto

by Kimp 11. February 2012 02:53
Photo Blog

There are only about 35,000 Jewish people in Italy, and half of them live in Rome. Some of the Jewish people living in Rome, can trace their family linage, back to before Christ.

The first Jewish people migrated to Rome from Eretz Judaea (Israel) in 160 B.C.  A Syrian King had been tough on the Palestine Jews, and several traveled to Rome to ask for protection. They ended up staying, because they were treated like foreign dignitaries, and it was very easy for them to establish business ties.

The Romans eventually conquered Judaea (Isreal) in the first century A.D., and brought many Jewish slaves back with them. The free Jews in Rome, then gathered together, and paid a ransom to free their brethren.

In 1500, the Pope decided that Jews and Christians should not live together. so he segregated them, and forced the Jews, into a walled 4 block area. The land that he gave them was very cheap, because it was in a flood plain. They were forbidden to work with Christians, and the only job they were allowed to have, was selling rages. Jews were required to wear yellow scarves and hats, and they had a curfew, to be back in their walled area by. For fun, the Romans would put Jews inside of barrels, and roll them down the Spanish steps. During the Carnival, "Roman Mardi Gra", Jew's were forced to march down the streets, so the crowd could insult them.

That walled section is now called the Jewish Ghetto, and it 's easy to find the borders, because there's a Christian church at each corner. The churches main mission was to convert Jews into Christians. What happened instead, was that since they were forced to be in such a small area, they banded together and formed a very tight community, where people helped each other through those very difficult times. They were not willing to give up their religion for a better life.
In 1870 when that papal states combined and the country of Italy was created. The ghetto walls where removed the the Ghetto was torn down and completely rebuilt, into what it is today.

In WWII, during the Nazi rule, the Nazi's deported 2000 Jews from the Jewish Ghetto, to a concentration camp. Only 16 returned.

Today this section is the most expensive and highly coveted place to live. It's also considered to have the best food. The outside of the buildings are kept very rustic for the ambiance, but the apartments on the inside are very lavish. For the Jews who toughed it out, the Real Estate has increased so much that many have sold out now, and moved into the city. Many own clothing shops. It is easy, to determine how many clothing stores are owned by Jews. On Yum Kipur, when they are fasting for the whole day, you had better not need to buy any clothes, because all of the clothing stores are going to be closed.

Even though many have moved into the city, and there are tourists in this area, you will still see several old Jewish women out in the street. I call it the Jewish girls club. They bring their folding chairs and baked Jewish goods with them, back into this area. Then they sit around, eating sun flowers seeds and talking all day long. If they give you a taste and you tell them it tastes great, they usually respond with, "that recipe goes back 300 years". One of their favorite hobbies is plotting how they are going to find a good husband for an unmarried Jewish girl. At the end of the day, they fold up their chairs and head back home into the city.

There is a great Jewish Pizza here. It has a lot of flavor and is kind of like a very sweet fruit cake.

This Jewish Ghetto was attacked by terrorists in 1982. After that, Pope John Paul II was invited to the Jewish Synagogue here. He was the first pope ever to enter a synagogue. In 2000, he shattered the chain of 2,000 years of painful history between Catholics and Jews, when he officially visited and recognize the State of Israel, and formally engaged in an act of repentance for the Catholic Church’s historical treatment of Jewish people.



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