Titus, the Roman emperor from 79 to 81 CE, son of Vespasian. He took command of the Roman army in Judea from his father in 70 CE when he destroyed Jerusalem after a 5 month siege. His mistress was Berenice, a Judean princess. He marched 20,000 Jews away from Judah and took them to Rome. There they were used to build the coliseum. "Proof of this lies in the Arch of Titus, which depicts a menorah as part of the bounty from Jerusalem. To this day, the Talmud forbids Jews from walking under the Arch..
Update: A groundbreaking paper published in 2000 by Harry Ostrer, a professor of genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and University of Arizona geneticist Michael Hammer showed that most modern Jews are descended on their male side from a core population of approximately 20,000 Jews who migrated from Italy over the first millennium and eventually settled in Eastern Europe.
|The sacking of Jerusalem, same as above only more distinct|
After Titus had destroyed Jerusalem in 70 CE, Babylonia arose as the new Jewish center."
|Ancient Greek culture's Parthenon|
Jews settled in Italy in the 2nd century BCE, first in Rome most likely from being slaves and thereafter in the southern ports and along the trade routes. Jews are known to have had settlements in Italy in at least 40 places before the end of the "Classical Period" of between the 8th and 7th centuries BCE to the 5th century CE.
A well-known Jewish family was the Kalonymus family. They migrated from Italy to Germany from the 9th to the 13th century. Kalonymos or Kalonymus (Hebrew: קלונימוס) is a prominent Jewish family originally from Tuscany's Lucca, Italy, which, after the settlement at Mainz and Speyer, Germany of several of its members, took during many generations a leading part in the development of Jewish learning in Germany." Lucca had a Jewish community in the 9th century and was among the most important in northern Italy, being associated with scholars such as Rabbi Kalonymos and later, Abraham Ibn Ezra. Moses I. (ben Meshullam) Kalonymos was one of the first in the family who was a liturgical poet; lived at Rome or at Lucca about 850.
Lucca was one of the 3 northern Italian communities mentioned by Benjamin of Tudela in 1165. In the 15th century, it had a community of loan-bankers. Lucca is a city on the Serchio river in Italy’s Tuscany region. It’s renowned for the well-preserved Renaissance walls encircling its historic city center and its cobblestone streets
The father of Onkelos, the great translator of the Bible, was, according to Avodah Zarah 11a, called Kalonymus, Onkelos was born in the 1st century CE. He was a Palestinian proselyte. He was a pupil of Rabbi Akiva and is responsible for the best-known Aramaic translation of the Pentateuch. The best and most complete tradition regarding the history of the family is given in a small polemical work written probably around 1220 by *Eleazar b. Judah (b. Kalonymus) of Worms, the author of the Roke'aḥ
Born in Rome in 1030 was Shabbethai ben Kalonymus AKA Kalonymus of Rome. He was a halakist, exegete and liturgical poet. His father was the president of the Jewish community and had a reputation as a Talmudic authority. Halakic questions were submitted to Shabbethai from Worms, Germany and Arles, France and other places far away. When Jacob bar Yakar died in 1070, Kalonymus was called to the rabbinate of Worms and held that position
Later in 1286 a descendant living in Rome was Kalonymos ben Kalonymos, called Maestro Calo who was a French author and translator living in France and Rome. He translated many philosophical and scientific papers from Arabic into Hebrew and Latin for King Robert of Naples. He died after 1328.
Among the prominent members of the Kalonymus family in Italy and Germany were KALONYMUS OF LUCCA, a paytan, who lived in Italy probably in the ninth century; *MOSES BEN KALONYMUS, a paytan, who lived in Italy but who moved to Mainz, Germany, There was "Meshullam b. Kalonymus of Rome of the tenth century, a paytan and halakhist who had contact with Gershom b. Judah, Me'or ha-Golah.
|Bari, Italy where trade could start from ships sailing on Adriatic Sea|
|In the Middle Ages, Rome's Jews started to prosper as permission to trade and run businesses was given them. The majority of Rome's Jews lived in the Trastevere neighborhood during this period, a district found on the west bank of the river Tiber, south of Vatican City.|
Despite the increasing anti-Semitism from the Church at this time, towns such as Venice, Florence, and Genoa realized that their commercial interests were of more importance than politics of the Church and accordingly the Jews found their condition better than ever before..
During the Dark Ages there were pockets of Jews in Rome, Milan, Genoa, Palermo and Messina in Sicily. When Milan came under the control of the Lombards, Jews were left to live in peace in the territories under their rule. Although the Lombard families embraced Catholicism, Jews were not persecuted and Pope Gregory I showed them respect and consideration. Although anti-Semitism began increasing throughout Europe from the 8th century, leading to great migrations of Jews from other European nations to Italy, Italian Jews enjoyed comparably high standards of living.
|Corsica is French, but Sardinian and Sicily are Italian islands.|
Sicily, which is an Italian island, was once an independent kingdom. There was a large low social community of manual laborers living there. Jews had lived here in Roman times also, perhaps as early as the 1st century BCE. Pope Gregory I protected them. There was a large Jewish settlement there in the 6th century and continued during the Arab occupation in the 9th to 11th centuries which left an impression on the language and culture of Sicilian Jewry. When the rulers were the Normans, the Jews had their highest times of prosperity in Sicily. During the Middle Ages, Jews numbered about 40,000.
From 1282, Sicily was ruled by the House of Aragon and was influenced by Spanish ideas and events. By 1391 there was a devastating wave of massacres of Jews and another in 1474. The Spanish Inquisition came early on in 1479. In 1492 of course Jews were expulsed. The exiles managed to find their way to the Italian mainland and the Levant. The Sicilians changed their minds and invited them back to Sicily in 1745, but Jews did not return.
Sardinia was another Italian island in the Mediterranean, " the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily and before Cyprus) and an autonomous region of Italy,." "Jews were exiled to Sardinia by the emperor Tiberius in 19 CE and some inscriptions of the Roman Period are preserved. In 599, a convert led a riot against the synagogue at Cagliari. Later in the Middle Ages under Aragonese rule, there were communities at Cagliari, Alghero, Sassari, etc. Their position deteriorated as elsewhere in the Spanish dominions in the 15th century and Sardinian was included in the general edict of expulsion from Spain in 1492." No Jews have since lived there.
At the end of the 13th century, persecution in the kingdom of Naples drove large numbers of Jews to Christianity. During this time, Jewish loan-bankers began to be invited for the public convenience into the towns of central and northern Italy. This was the origin of the famous communities of Florence, Venice, Mantua, Ferrara, etc.
|Jewish Ghetto, or saying it nicely; Jewish Venice|
The Venetian government forced them to wear the Jewish hat marking them as Jews, but would not allow forced sermons or child baptisms and kept the Inquisition in check. The Venetians gave up overseas trade and this left it largely in Jewish hands. By the 18th century, Venice decayed. 1797 and the French Revolution caused the GHETTO gates to come down, Jews were emancipated but their condition deteriorated. under Austrian rule. In 1866 Venice became part of Italy. WWII Jews suffered during German occupation from 1943-45. 5 synagogues survived the war, but only 1 is used today. The GHETTO is now a showplace. In 1990 there were 700 Jews living in Venice.
In 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, the Spanish authorities expelled the Jews from Sicily. They expelled Jews in 1541 from the kingdom of Naples and they never returned there again. During this period in other places Jews lived in affluent and comfortable conditions and were influenced by the Renaissance as well as adding their own influence to the period.
The Piedmont region is one of the 20 regions of Italy. It has an area of 25,402 square kilometres and a population of about 4.6 million. The capital of Piedmont is Turin, a city in northern Italy. Jews first settled here in 1424. As the capital of Piedmont, the community, styling itself "the Commonalty of the Jews of the Estates of His Most Serene Highness, dominated the others of the region, reaching a population of 1,500 in the 18th century. " Since the 15th century, Piemonte had been home to a unique Jewish community rooted simultaneously in the Sephardic, Ashkenazic, and Italian traditions".
A GHETTO was established in 1679. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the community became one of the most important in Italy. It suffered greatly in WWII, of course. their beautiful synagogue was destroyed but recovered and now has a rabbinical seminary and communal institutions. In 1990 the Jewish population was 1,200.
The Counter-Reformation caused the Jewish position to deteriorate. Pope Paul IV's bull cum nimis absurdum of 1555 was the beginning of the GHETTO and the oppression of Jews in Rome and the Papal States as this was imitated all over the country. The Ghetto Period lasted till the end of the 18th century or until 1799.
|A Jew in Renaissanace Italy; From the age of emperor Constantine the Great (312-337) to the Renaissance,(1485-1660) the Italian Jews were represented in legends, paintings, and theater.|
The next generation saw Jewish emancipation more complete in Italy than in any other country of Europe. their position was fairly well maintained in the early years of Fascism in 1922, but of course, by 1938 after Mussolini signed an alliance with Nazi Germany, a strong anti-Semitic policy was put in place. Jews were removed from office and many emigrated out of Italy.
Resource: The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia
Update on DNA: http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2013/10/08/ashkenazi-jewish-women-descended-mostly-from-italian-converts-new-study-asserts/