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Renaissance synagogues being restored in Venice’s ghetto

Renaissance synagogues being restored in Venice’s ghetto

The Jewish ghetto of Venice is considered the first in Europe and one of the first in the world, and a new effort is underway to preserve its synagogues of the 16th century for the Jews who remained and the tourists who passed.

For almost two years, restaurateurs took off from painting and discovered the original foundations of three of the ghetto synagogues, considered the only synagogues of the Renaissance still used, said the art historian David Landau.

Landau directs the effort to collect funds to restore synagogues and buildings nearby for the small Jewish community in Venice, which has around 450 people, and for tourists who can visit them during a guided tour through the Jewish Museum of Venice.

“I was deeply offended by the state of synagogues,” said Landau, a Renaissance specialist who bought a house in Venice 12 years ago. “I felt that the synagogues were in deplorable condition. They had been modified beyond recognition over the centuries and had to be somehow treated and loved.

He has obtained around 5 million euros and expects workers to end the catering process by the end of 2023 if the rest of the funding takes place. However, the 4 million euros Originally have increased to 6 million euros due to arrow construction costs.

The Venice ghetto dates from 1516, when the Republic forced the growing number of Jews into the district where the old foundries, or “Geti,” as we knew, had been located. The region, locked up at night, has become what is considered the first ghetto in Europe and remains the hub of the Jewish community in Venice in the Cannaregio region.

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The first synagogue dated from 1528 and was built by German Ashkenazi Jews. Others followed and served different groups, including one for the Spanish Sepharged Jews and one for the Italian Jews.

None were visible on the street because the strict rules of Venice’s leaders did not allow the Jews to practice their faith openly. All the synagogues are hidden on the upper floors of the typical buildings, which, at the lower levels, contained extremely crazy living spaces for Jewish families.

The synagogues remained continuously operational, except during the years of the Second World War during the German occupation.

The head of the Jewish community of Venice, Dario Calimani, said that the restoration project was necessary both to maintain the religious and cultural life of the Jews of Venice today and to preserve the history of the community.

“They testify to the life it was, the history of our community, the small community,” he said.

Renaissance synagogues being restored in Venice’s ghetto

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