The Jewish community in Venice hopes to attract tourists and celebrate their rich history by planning events throughout the year to commemorate the anniversary of the world's first Jewish ghetto:
Venice is marking the 500th anniversary of the world’s first Jewish ghetto with a program that organizers hope will transform a place once used to marginalize Jews into a vehicle for revitalizing the city’s dwindling Jewish community.
On March 29, 1516 the then-independent Republic of Venice segregated its Jewish population on a tiny polluted island that used to host a foundry (getto, in the local dialect – hence the name of the area). The Venice ghetto, like others that sprang up across Europe, was overcrowded and poverty-ridden but it also became a cultural hub that was home to Roman, German and Spanish Jewish exiles.
Bassi, an organizer of the anniversary, said this milestone does not just constitute a “moment of retrospection,” but “a point of departure to revive the great tradition of the ghetto as a cosmopolitan common ground for Jews of different backgrounds and non-Jews.”