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Venice's 500th Anniversary of World's First Jewish Ghetto

Venice's Jewish Ghetto Photo: flickr/darkb4dawn

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.”

Tags: Europe

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