Page 191 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

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of the Jewish communities of Padova and Verona were warned
not to divulge to any Christian that a circumcision was to take
place in the synagogue (See
Pinkas Va‘ad Kehilah Kedoshah Padua,
edited with notes by David Carpi [Jerusalem, 1977], 1603-1630,
Appendix 11-13, p. 464).
An outstanding Jewish personality of 17th century Venice was
Simone Luzzatto, who served as chief rabbi after the passing
of Judah Aryeh Modena. Around the mid-thirties (1638), he
wrote his
Discorso circa il Stato degli Ebrei nelV Inclita Citta di Venetia
(Discourse on the Situation of the Jews Who Live in the Mag­
nificent City of Venice), which became an influential apology
on behalf of Venetian Jewry in the polemic about their eman­
cipation. [See Isaac Barzilay, “John Toland’s Borrowing from
Simone Luzzatto,”
XXXI (April, 1969), pp. 75-81.]
Zunz devoted five lines to Luzzatto, only indicating that in
the last paragraph of his
he wrote about “the situation
and numbers of the Jews in various states of the time.”
(Gesammelte Schriften,
I, no. 95). He called him a “statistician,”
and apparently had no great regard for the secular learning
of Luzzatto and the originality of his ideas concerning the place
of the Jews in the Venetian Republic. Indeed, as far as their
views on the Jews and Christian society of their respective times
are concerned, they were far apart from each other. While Zunz
was pleading for a total emancipation of the Jews in Germany
[see his public speeches of the forties and seventies,
I], Luzzatto was still in medieval times, trying to prove
the great advantages for Venice in preserving the old status
quo in relation to the Jews, namely, to keep them outside Gentile
society. Better known is the criticism of Luzzatto by the Convert
Morosini (a disciple of Judah Aryeh Modena) on account of
his justification of money lending for interest by Jews to non-
Jews. [See Riccardo Calimani,
The Ghetto o f Venice
(New York,
1987), chap. 16, p. 200.]
Finally, one more detail concerning Luzzatto must be added
here as, to our knowledge, it appears nowhere else. Zunz wrote:
“In 1640 Palombrotti opened a series of writings against Simone
Luzzatto and the Jews. They appeared in Venice, Rome and
[Die synagogale Poesie des Mittelalters
(Berlin, 1855), p.