The many faces of early modern Italian Jewry - International conference
organized by Dr Martin Borýsek and Dr Davide Liberatoscioli
University of Potsdam, Germany, 4th–7th October, 2021
As a result of its mixed nature, Italian Jewry eludes easy categorisation. The expression “Italian Jews” does not refer exclusively to indigenous Jews – descendants of the Jews who came to the Italian Peninsula during Roman Antiquity – but additionally denotes Ashkenazi Jews who arrived in the northern Italian regions during the Late Middle Ages, descendants of Sephardic immigrants from the Iberian Peninsula and later from the Ottoman Levant, and Greek-speaking Romaniote Jews originally from Venetian colonies in the former Byzantine territories. The mutual encounters between these various Jewish groups and their multi-faceted and sometimes contentious relations characterised every field of tradition, religious life and cultural production.
The aim of our conference is to investigate the character and impact of such encounters between Italian Jews of Italian, Ashkenazi, Sephardic and Romaniote origin, on cultural, religious, social and economic levels. The period at the centre of our attention is loosely bordered by the major waves of Sephardic immigration from the Iberian Peninsula (at the end of the 15th century) and the first acts of social and political emancipation of the Italian Jews implemented under Napoleonic rule (at the end of the 18th century).