Letter by R. Israel Modena, Modena 1644 (47203)

מכתב מה"ר ישראל מודינה – Manuscript

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Listing Details

Lot Number: 47203
Title (English): Letter by R. Israel Modena
Title (Hebrew): מכתב מה"ר ישראל מודינה
Note: Manuscript
City: Modena
Publication Date: 1644
Estimated Price: $1,000.00 USD - $2,000.00 USD


Physical Description

[1] p., 160:156 mm., wide margins, usual light age and damp staining, ink on paper, need Sephardic script, 14 lines, signed and dated.

Detail Description

MODENA, city in N. central Italy. The first document relating to Jews in Modena may date back to 1025, but the existence of a stable Jewish community, formed by loan-bankers who originated from Perugia, Rimini, and Fermo, was not recorded until 1393. For many years the Jews of Modena enjoyed the protection of the house of Este, which ruled Modena as well as Ferrara. After the expulsion from Bologna (1569) and the devolution of Ferrara (1598) when Modena became the capital city of the Duchy of Estense a number of Jews moved there; also in the 17th and 18th centuries the duchy of Modena attracted a large Jewish settlement. Generally, the dukes considered favoring Jewish settlement and development as beneficial to the state, mainly for economical reasons, but this did not prevent the establishment of the ghetto (1638–1859), Inquisitional controls, and the activity of the Opera Pia dei Catecumeni, founded in 1700. When the ghetto was established in 1638 the Jews in Modena numbered 750; in 1767 they were 1,262; in 1847, 1,538 lived in the entire province of Modena.

Modena was long a principal center of scholarship for Italian Jewry and was distinguished as a seat of kabbalistic study. Among its scholars were the kabbalist *Aaron Berechiah of Modena, author of Ma'avar Yabbok (Mantua, 1626); the scholars Leone Poggetti, Natanel Trabotti, and Yedidià Carmi; the remarkable bibliophile Abraham Joseph Solomon Graziani; Abraham Rovigo; and Ishmael Cohen (Laudadio Sacerdote). During the first half of the 16th century the Hevrot Ghemilut Chassdim and the Talmud Torà were founded; in 1614 Aharon Berechiah of Modena founded the Hevrat Machshivim for kabbalistic studies. The cultural and economic activities of Modenese Jewry were central to the Duchy of Este. Although they were confined to the ghetto in 1638, the Jews of Modena were allowed to carry on their business activities. The Jews of the Este Dukedom in fact were involved in a variety of entrepreneurial, commercial, and cultural activities – among other things, the manufacture and trading of precious silks, silver, and diamonds. These activities were handled by large-scale entrepreneurs, and there were also a number of ordinary workers. Jews played important cultural roles – as ducal librarians, court silversmiths, printers, etc. – in the city, and often it was Jews who imported new cultural ideas from abroad. From 1638 to 1721, the Jews of Modena opened nine synagogues with women's galleries and two schools. The hevrot in Modena at the end of 18th century numbered 15. In 1735 the Hevra Soked Holim for women was established. There was also a renowned yeshivah in the city. In 1796 Modena was occupied by the French and became part of the Cisalpine Republic. Moisé Formiggini was the first Italian Jew to be elected to office in the government of the Repubblica Cisalpina (1797).


Hebrew Description

Milano, Bibliotheca, index; Milano, Italia, index; Roth, Italy, index; A. Balletti, Gli ebrei e gli estensi (19302), passim; C. Bernheimer, Catalogo dei manuscritti orientali della Biblioteca Estense (1960); J. Vaccari, Villa Emma: un episodio agli albori della Resistenza modenese nel quadro delle persecuzioni razziste (1960); Levi Minzi, in: Israel (Feb. 19, 1931); C. Levi, in: Riforma sociale, 4 (1897), 962–69; Milano, in: RMI, 11 (1936/37), 450–55; Artom, ibid., 44–49. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/modena