With. Rabbi Dr. Dovid Katz. November 20-28, 2011

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1 Jewish History Tour of Italy With Rabbi Dr. Dovid Katz Rome, Tuscany, Ferara, Venice and Padua November 20-28, 2011 Few Countries Have the Rich Jewish Past of the Italian States Join us as we visit seven of the most important Italian cities in Jewish history Cost: $2, land package, double occupancy (does not include airfare) Sunday November 20 th Departure from Washington to Rome Monday November 21 st Rome Rome: imperious, fascinating and beautiful; cruel, corrupt, and terrible. There have been many Romes: the capital of the ancient Roman Empire; the medieval capital of Christendom; the militant headquarters of the Catholic Church; the modern secular capital of that relatively new nation called Italy; the ultramodern center of art and fashion. We will visit all these Romes and their Jewish neighborhoods. For Jews, Rome was usually a hospitable place and even a shelter from anti- Semitic violence before the 1550s. After that time, things took a turn for the worse, and Jews were compelled to live in harsh conditions in the Ghetto. The bad years for Rome s Jews were We will see it all and explain it all over the course of two days. After settling into our hotel, we will visit sites of ancient Rome and modern Rome, such as the Forum Romanum, the Arch of Titus, the Colosseum, Capitoline Hill and the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele, first modern King of Italy and a friend of the Jewish people.

2 November 22 nd Rome We begin our second day by visiting Jewish Rome, the Old Ghetto, including the Great Synagogue and the Jewish Museum. Start getting used to the fact that there is more to Judaism than just Ashkenaz and Sepharad. There is a separate and ancient Minhag Italia. The Jews who follow it are called Italiani Jews and Rome is their headquarters and main center. Never large in number (as we shall learn, the majority of Jews living in old Italy were Ashkenazi or Sepharadi), the Italiani were reduced further by the Holocaust. Prepare yourselves for something different! Afterwards, we will visit some of the important sites of Gentile Rome for which the city is famous throughout the world. Such sites will include the Vatican, which has for so long played an important part in Jewish history, sometimes good, sometimes not We will discuss some of the basic issues between Christianity and Judaism over the course of history. Finally, we will visit some famous Roman landmarks, including the Piazza Navona (not far from which they burned Jewish books and Jews), the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and perhaps the Roman pantheon. In short we have a packed day. We will return to our hotel in the evening where I will try to tie the themes together from a historical perspective. Be prepared to learn a lot on this day. Wednesday November 23 rd Tuscany From now on, we will be visiting places connected with the most important era in Italian Jewish history, the last 600 years: the Age of the Renaissance, the Early- Modern Period, and the Modern Era. Today we leave Rome and head north to Tuscany, the beautiful province above Rome, which was the site of much drama in the Renaissance and the Early- Modern Period ( ). The name you will be hearing over and over is Medici (pronounced Med de Chee, accent on the med ). Google this name, and you will see a famous Italian gentile dynasty of rulers of Tuscany who were generally the patrons of the Jews. After 1556, all Jews in Italy were condemned to live in horrible and filthy ghettos. There were only two communities who were exempted, in which Jews could live like human beings, Livorno and Pisa, which we visit today. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Livorno in particular was the wealthiest Jewish community in the whole world, and was very exclusive

3 no Ashkenazim were allowed in! This is a most remarkable chapter in Jewish history, and we will discuss it fully on the very site of this famous community- - which still exists and has a day- school. Pisa, too, has a rich history, and of course, a leaning tower. Today we will be talking a lot about the Spanish- Portuguese Jews who moved to Italy after 1492 and played a remarkable role in life here, baffling the native Italians with their grand manners, extraordinary business acumen, generous support of Torah learning, and huge synagogue squabbles. At the end of the day we will arrive at our hotel in Florence. Thursday November 24th Tuscany Today we do the famous capital of Tuscany once an independent country under Medici and then the Habsburgs. In Florence the Medici did indeed create a ghetto in order to curry favor with the Pope. Napoleon destroyed the ghetto walls and liberated the Jews, and we will be talking about the modern era in Italy, when Jews finally gained freedom and civil rights because the new Italian state was anti- Catholic! To celebrate their new freedom the Jews in Florence built a huge and famously beautiful shul, which still functions, as does a Jewish community with an Orthodox Chief Rabbi and all. Italian Jews faced challenges in terms of modernity and assimilation, and in Florence created a fascinating cultural response to all this. Of course there are many famous sites in this gorgeous city renowned for art and architecture since the days of Michelangelo, who was a Florentine. In general, in our touring of the city we will discuss the unique Italian- Jewish culture, which was a kind of Torah im Derech Eretz long before Samson Raphael Hirsch. Later in the day we travel north towards our destination for tonight and for Shabbos- - Venice.

4 Friday November 25th Venice Candle Lighting is at 4:00 in the afternoon, so we set off early to see the site of the famous city on the water. Here we have the first and most famous ghetto in history, with a remarkable Jewish community of scholars, poets, businessmen, scoundrels. Venice was a world- famous headquarters for Yiddishkeit for many centuries, and we will see the famous shuls as well as explore the other famous city sites (Venice is not that large, so we can do it if we are efficient). We will have time in the afternoon to shop and get ready for Shabbos, which promises to be unforgettable. After our Shabbos meal, we will talk about the role of Kabbalah in Italy, a major theme of Italian Jewish history, with Venice the site of many Kabbalistic controversies...or perhaps the halachic background of Shylock and the Merchant of Venice, as the fancy strikes us. We are in a place of the richest Jewish history. Of course, Yehudah and Esti will provide their famous Friday night Oneg Shabbos (as they did in Gibraltar) if you can still eat and drink! Shabbos Kodesh November 26th Venice We spend an unforgettable Shabbos in the ghetto with the local Jewish community (and probably with numerous other Jewish tourists from around the world). Though a short day, we will have the opportunity to explore the ghetto and recount some of its famous tales, and hopefully find out what it is like to be a Jew in Venice today, as the Venetian Jews find out what it is like to be a Jew in Baltimore today. After Shabbos we will have a festive melava malka and discuss the unique role of Jewish women in Italy down the centuries, including some famous and remarkable stories from the Jewish past.

5 Sunday November 27 th Padua Though people are generally not aware of it, Padua is actually the most important Italian Jewish community in Jewish history. Aside from being an Italian architectural jewel, Padua was the site of a famous German- Jewish yeshiva that lasted over three centuries (the Sephardic students had to learn Yiddish!). Here was also the site of Europe s most famous university, the only one which allowed Jews to attend and earn the PhD and the MD. To Padua streamed young and ambitious Jewish medical students from all over Europe. We will see all of this, and also discuss the very controversial story of Padua s most famous Jew, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, author of Mesilas Yesharim and Kabbalist extraordinaire. We could spend a week here and still have much to talk about. We will spend a day. This will be exciting! Later in the day we will depart for Milan, stopping in the famous and beautiful Lake Garda. We arrive in Milan in the evening. Monday November 28 th Depart from Milan to Newark After an early breakfast at our hotel, full of memories and impressions of our trip, we travel to the airport to catch our flight back home. As with our Spain trip, we will be personally accompanied by our travel organizer, Yehudah Lichtman of Mesorah Tours, who will once again make sure that our creature comforts (transportation, hotels, meals, etc.) are attended to efficiently and in the best possible manner. All hotels will be 4 and 5 star. Those who have been on my trips know that we will be on the move all day, and I will do my best to keep the pace physically exhausting, intellectually enlightening, and emotionally exhilarating. The above represents the basic itinerary. As always, there may be a few modifications between now and November. For further information, please contact either:

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