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The Jews’ presence in Ferrara dates back at least until the 12th Century and thanks to the religious tolerance of the Este family the community grew, welcoming refugee groups of Ashkenazi from the German Empire territories and later, Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain and Portugal.

Only in 1626 did the papal government (which had taken over from the Estensi one) set up a ghetto closing off the area around Via Sabbioni (now Via Mazzini) with five gates. In that same street, in 1485, the rich Roman banker Ser Samuel Melli had purchased a large house and donated it to the Ferrarese Jews so that they could use it as a seat for their institutions. This well-preserved building still serves as the heart of today’s much-reduced local community. Among the most important rooms inside, is the ex-German Temple (i.e. Ashkenazi), now used for the most solemn ceremonies: of particular note is the Aròn (Ark) containing the scrolls with the laws, a magnificent example of 17th century woodworking. The ex-Italian Temple is today a large elegant room used for conferences and community celebrations. On the right of the room is a line of wooden parts of three arón no longer in use: the one in the centre belongs to the Italian synagogue, the two at the sides came from the Spanish one. The Fanese Oratory is a small 19th-century temple used by all for the rituals of the Sabbath.
The Jewish Museum is on the second floor.



last modified Dec 15, 2023 05:18
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