Jews and the Ghetto in Italy

If you happen to find yourself in San Francisco over the next couple of weeks, I’d highly recommend seeing “Il Ghetto: Forging Italian Jewish Identities 1516 – 1870” at the Museo Italiano through February 15.

Of course it’s the same old story played out again and again. The dominant religion sees a need for the resources held by a “minority” religion (in this case the ability of Jews to lend money, absolutely essential for the “new” economy and forbidden to Christians of the time, along with medical knowledge, mostly gleaned from Jewish interaction with Arabs). At the same time Christians also needed to demonize Jews simply because they’re non Christians—so they stuff them away in Ghettos and hope nobody gets wind of the wealth that’s accruing from their advanced knowledge of trade and medicine.

Somehow I think there’s a parallel here with those theocracy-leaning lunatics and the wealth of oil in the Middle East, but heck, I won’t go there.

Anyway, the exhibit is wonderfully enlightening. You should go.


Jews and the Ghetto in Italy originally appeared on WanderingItaly.com , updated: Jan 31, 2009 © .

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