How similar are Italians and Jews

Jews in Europe

Guri black

To person

Dr. phil., born 1975; Dipartimento di Storia, Università di Pisa, Piazza Torricelli 3 / a, 56100 Pisa / Italy.
Email: [email protected]

The reintegration of Jews in Italy was complicated, although the conditions were better than in other parts of Europe. Many Italian Jews owed their reintegration to the system of cultural representation.


A history of Italian Jews after World War II must begin with the most dramatic effects of the persecution - with the losses suffered by the Jewish communities. Before the persecution began, the Jewish community in Italy numbered approximately 47,000 members. That number had fallen to less than 30,000 by the end of the war. In just under seven years, Italian Jewry had lost 40 percent of its members, a loss that was partially offset by Jews immigrating from abroad, of whom 5,000 settled in Italy. As a result of the fascist racial legislation of 1938, around 4,000 Jews had renounced their beliefs, and only a few of them returned to their old beliefs after the war. Around 11,000 foreign and almost 6,000 Italian Jews had emigrated, more than 8,000 (both foreign and Italian Jews) died as a result of deportations and war. [1]

These demographic shifts within Italian Judaism led to a geographical redistribution. As a result of the persecution, the migration of the Jewish population from small and medium-sized towns to urban centers, which had been going on since the 19th century, accelerated: While 87 Jewish communities were registered in Italy in 1840, this was only the case after the Second World War just over 20. The Jewish presence was concentrated in the largest cities, with the result that many of the smaller communities that had previously actively participated in Jewish life were irrevocably stripped of their vitality. The larger communities grew and had their most important centers in Milan and above all in Rome, which has always had the largest Jewish population and was the seat of the leading Jewish institutions.

In June 1956 the outgoing council submitted a report to the Fifth Congress of the Unione delle Communità Israelitiche Italiane (UCII): two municipalities had more than 6000 (Rome and Milan), six more than 1000 (Florence, Genoa, Livorno, Turin, Trieste and Venice), two more than 500 (Naples and Pisa), nine had more than 100 (Alexandria, Ancona, Bologna, Modena, Ferrara, Mantua, Padua, Vercelli and Verona), four had fewer than 100 members. Only Rome (12,000) had a similarly high proportion of Jews as before the war, Milan (6,000) a slightly higher proportion. In the following decades the proportion of the population in Rome was to increase again. Milan's population grew rapidly in a short space of time, largely thanks to its attraction to foreign Jews. [2]