The history of the Jewish community in Venice goes back to the early 11th century. First established on the island of Giudecca in Dorsoduro, and later cast away (from political, religious and economic reasons) from Venice to Mestre, the Jewish community came back to the lagoon and, upon the decision of the republic, they established the Ghetto (the term itself apparently has Italian origins, deriving either from the word “borghetto”, which means “small borough”, or from the word “gheto”, which means “slag”, hinting on the production of slag in a foundry formerly located on the site of the ghetto) in the early 16th century (more precisely, in 1516), in Cannaregio. The purpose of instituting the ghetto was to regulate the commercial, cultural and social activities of the members of the community.

The best way to learn all there is to know about the history of the Venetian Ghetto, as well as to be provided with a deep insight into the development of the Jewish culture in the lagoon is to resort to the guided visits offered by the Jewish Community Museum of Venice. This museum, despite its surprising small size, showcases consistent collections of items produced by the centuries-old craftsmanship traditions of the Jewish people, textiles and goldsmith works included. The museum is located in the so-called Ghetto Nuovo (which is a part of the Venetian Ghetto, surprisingly enough older than the subsequently founded Ghetto Vecchio), just like the several synagogues (“scola” in Italian) founded in the course of history for the German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Levantine sub-communities (Scola Grande Tedesca, Scola Italiana, Scola Spagnola, and Scola Levantina, respectively).

Its collections aside, the importance of this museum is it is involved in all sorts of cultural activities intended to both enhance the already lively cultural life of the Jewish community and to promote and increase its visibility to outsiders (tourists or otherwise). The guided tours organized by the museum are available in English only, and tours in other languages are, however, available, but only on request.

Jewish Community Museum of Venice (Museo Ebraico di Venezia)
2902/b, Cannaregio, 30121, Venice, Italy
0039 041 715359
0039 041 723007
[email protected] / [email protected]
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