Fondazione De Benedetti Cherasco 1547 Onlus

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Jewish itineraries in Piedmont

Italy's Jewish artistic patrimony is captivating for its rarity, a presence limited in dimension but vast in its artefacts, which testifies to an uninterrupted presence of over two thousand years.

Through their ancient wanderings Jews have mingled specific elements from their traditions with those of their surrounding culture.

 

The history of the Jewish community in is the history of singular precariousness: excluded from the economic and productive activity, with the imposition of the unpleasant job of lending money, an activity prohibited to Christians, Jews were often expelled and denied their rightful earnings and regularly had to rebuild a precarious existence elsewhere.

Wherever a nucleus was established, a synagogue was built and areas for the ghetto and cemetery were found.

 

 

The Synagogues of Piedmont

In Piedmont, Jewish centers have historically been numerous; today one can find Jewish artefacts in more than twenty locations, and without a doubt the synagogues are the true gems among them: centers of the community, study and prayer, discussion and meetings.

 

Centuries of a Jewish presence in Piedmont is particularly revealed in the synagogues, testimonies to memory and faith, but also of a stratification of complex events, a patrimony to transmit to future generations.

 

There are sixteen synagogues throughout Piedmont in the areas of Turin, Casale Monferrato and Vercelli. One each in Asti, Biella, Carmagnola, Casale Monferrato, Cherasco, Cuneo, Mondovi, Saluzzo and Vercelli, two in Alessandria and Ivrea and three in Turin.

 

Large or small, monumental or hidden at the top floor of an anonymous residential building, they constitute a unique road map marked by historic events of a people who never ceased to fight for its existence.

 

What most strikes visitors, who, attracted by their extraordinary beauty and charm, is the inseparable unity between spirituality and art, faith and harmony, which these Synagogues embody.

 

The Jewish community of Turin, with the sponsorship of the Piedmontese Region government, promotes a series of visits to familiarize visitors with the synagogues, with the belief that this is the easiest and most effective way of giving the public a deep and intimate sense of the history, tradition and culture, which is the heritage of all.

 

 

In the Ghettos of Piedmont

It seams a distant past, but still today in many Piedmontese cities, in larg and small towns, or simply in a single district, an entire neighborhood or only a few houses one can see entries from the courtyards still marked by the ancient bars or traces of once sealed windows towards the street.

 

These are the Ghettos of Piedmont, areas of segregation instituted by order of the reigning Princess, guaranteeing that the homes of the Jews, deemed “infidels and Christ killers”, should not have contact with those of Christians.

 

Stairways, walkways, and barred windows, as well as closed off streets and courtyards internally linked together characterize the long period in which the Piedmontese Jews lived together, yet separately from Christians. they are the testimony of the oppressive atmosphere, and the unique state of tension between what was permitted and what was prohibited and between equality and diversity.

 

 

Jewish Cemeteries in Piedmont

Visiting cemeteries doesn't only mean Prague, the of Venice or Ferrara, where the serenity and the splendor of these ancient sites unite centuries of history with the stories of individuals. Piedmont is also rich with suggestive Jewish cemeteries which merit a visit.

 

As Primo Levi wrote in 1985 in the introduction of the beautiful volume “The Jewish Community of Venice and its antique cemetery” (Il Polifilo, Milan 2000), in Jewish Cemeteries “ mourning or at least the sense of mourning does not predominate.

Mourning is that recent struggle and stringent pain of loss of a family member, or a person who is dear, or who one knew, whose image, habits and voice are still fresh in our memory

Here mourning is remote, swept away by centuries: the prevailing sensation is one of peace, of eternal rest that all rituals promise to the deceased…. To all is extended the green cloak of vines, images of the imply life, which is oblivious to memory. .”

 

The Cemeteries of Piedmont constitute an enormous source of information on the history of the Jews who through the centuries settled in nineteen urban centers.

 

Among the Jewish symbols such as the hands of the Cohanim extended in benediction, the pitchers of the Levits , bunches of grapes, dears, lions, eagles, and doves one can recognize, through the inscriptions on the grave stones, or from a simple glance over this oasis of peace, a slice of history and life that no longer exist yet will continue through eternity

 

 

 

 (*) Excerpt from the publication, “Sixteen Synagogues in Piedmont”, “In the Ghetto's of Piedmont, '' and “Cemeteries in Piedmont” prepared by the Jewish Community of Turin, The Jewish Community of Casale Monferrato and of Vercelli, with test by Mariacristina Colli e Claudia De Benedetti, photographs of the Jewish Community of Turin by, Nicolò Biddau, Stefania Levi, Silvia Reichenbach, Alberto Jona Falco/Studio Olimpic, project coordinator Giulio Disegni.

Jewish itineraries in Piedmont

Italy's Jewish artistic patrimony is captivating for its rarity, a presence limited in dimension but vast in its artefacts, which testifies to an uninterrupted presence of over two thousand years.

Through their ancient wanderings Jews have mingled specific elements from their traditions with those of their surrounding culture.

 

The history of the Jewish community in is the history of singular precariousness: excluded from the economic and productive activity, with the imposition of the unpleasant job of lending money, an activity prohibited to Christians, Jews were often expelled and denied their rightful earnings and regularly had to rebuild a precarious existence elsewhere.

Wherever a nucleus was established, a synagogue was built and areas for the ghetto and cemetery were found.

 

 

The Synagogues of Piedmont

In Piedmont, Jewish centers have historically been numerous; today one can find Jewish artefacts in more than twenty locations, and without a doubt the synagogues are the true gems among them: centers of the community, study and prayer, discussion and meetings.

 

Centuries of a Jewish presence in Piedmont is particularly revealed in the synagogues, testimonies to memory and faith, but also of a stratification of complex events, a patrimony to transmit to future generations.

 

There are sixteen synagogues throughout Piedmont in the areas of Turin, Casale Monferrato and Vercelli. One each in Asti, Biella, Carmagnola, Casale Monferrato, Cherasco, Cuneo, Mondovi, Saluzzo and Vercelli, two in Alessandria and Ivrea and three in Turin.

 

Large or small, monumental or hidden at the top floor of an anonymous residential building, they constitute a unique road map marked by historic events of a people who never ceased to fight for its existence.

 

What most strikes visitors, who, attracted by their extraordinary beauty and charm, is the inseparable unity between spirituality and art, faith and harmony, which these Synagogues embody.

 

The Jewish community of Turin, with the sponsorship of the Piedmontese Region government, promotes a series of visits to familiarize visitors with the synagogues, with the belief that this is the easiest and most effective way of giving the public a deep and intimate sense of the history, tradition and culture, which is the heritage of all.

 

 

In the Ghettos of Piedmont

It seams a distant past, but still today in many Piedmontese cities, in larg and small towns, or simply in a single district, an entire neighborhood or only a few houses one can see entries from the courtyards still marked by the ancient bars or traces of once sealed windows towards the street.

 

These are the Ghettos of Piedmont, areas of segregation instituted by order of the reigning Princess, guaranteeing that the homes of the Jews, deemed “infidels and Christ killers”, should not have contact with those of Christians.

 

Stairways, walkways, and barred windows, as well as closed off streets and courtyards internally linked together characterize the long period in which the Piedmontese Jews lived together, yet separately from Christians. they are the testimony of the oppressive atmosphere, and the unique state of tension between what was permitted and what was prohibited and between equality and diversity.

 

 

Jewish Cemeteries in Piedmont

Visiting cemeteries doesn't only mean Prague, the of Venice or Ferrara, where the serenity and the splendor of these ancient sites unite centuries of history with the stories of individuals. Piedmont is also rich with suggestive Jewish cemeteries which merit a visit.

 

As Primo Levi wrote in 1985 in the introduction of the beautiful volume “The Jewish Community of Venice and its antique cemetery” (Il Polifilo, Milan 2000), in Jewish Cemeteries “ mourning or at least the sense of mourning does not predominate.

Mourning is that recent struggle and stringent pain of loss of a family member, or a person who is dear, or who one knew, whose image, habits and voice are still fresh in our memory

Here mourning is remote, swept away by centuries: the prevailing sensation is one of peace, of eternal rest that all rituals promise to the deceased…. To all is extended the green cloak of vines, images of the imply life, which is oblivious to memory. .”

 

The Cemeteries of Piedmont constitute an enormous source of information on the history of the Jews who through the centuries settled in nineteen urban centers.

 

Among the Jewish symbols such as the hands of the Cohanim extended in benediction, the pitchers of the Levits , bunches of grapes, dears, lions, eagles, and doves one can recognize, through the inscriptions on the grave stones, or from a simple glance over this oasis of peace, a slice of history and life that no longer exist yet will continue through eternity

 

 

 

 (*) Excerpt from the publication, “Sixteen Synagogues in Piedmont”, “In the Ghetto's of Piedmont, '' and “Cemeteries in Piedmont” prepared by the Jewish Community of Turin, The Jewish Community of Casale Monferrato and of Vercelli, with test by Mariacristina Colli e Claudia De Benedetti, photographs of the Jewish Community of Turin by, Nicolò Biddau, Stefania Levi, Silvia Reichenbach, Alberto Jona Falco/Studio Olimpic, project coordinator Giulio Disegni.

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