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Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Viva Italia! #40


Hey folks... I need comments to keep awake. And I need sponsors to help me reach my goal. So please, a comment or two? And please sponsor me. Purty pleeze...


We took the overnight train to Venice. Dawn had never traveled in a cochette before, and got a real kick out of sleeping on the train. We had the cochette to ourselves all the way to Venice, which was delightful. Nothing live traveling out of season for more comfortable traveling.


When we got to Venice we found our hotel, which was right outside San Marco. It was an EXCELLENT location for two reasons. Downstairs from the rooms, built right into the lobby, was a gelato shop. And not just any gelato shop. A really GOOD gelato shop. Can anything be more convenient than gelato right under your bedroom window? I think not!


The first thing I wanted to do was to tour the Venice ghetto.
The Jewish Ghetto of Venice is the oldest in the world, and the 5 synagogues are the oldest still existing. The Museum of Jewish Art was opened in 1955 and displays a precious collection of textiles and silverwork (mostly from the five synagogues), Italian Ketuboth (marriage contracts) and other religious objects of foreign manufacture.


The ghetto wasn't easy to get to. There wasn't a vaparetto (water taxi) anywhere near it, so we walked. And we walked. And we walked some more.

The ghetto is marked by a couple of gates that are no longer in use. But when they were, it locked all the Jews inside the ghetto and only let them out during specific times. Inside the ghetto are houses where Jews still reside, as well as a couple of synagogues that still hold services.


In addition, there is a holocaust memorial that is very moving. The tragedy of Holocaust is reperesented in some works of art in the Ghetto of Venice donated by the Lithuan sculptor Arbit Blatas.

Jews had to stay in the Ghetto during the night: two large gates closed the area off (the marks of the hinges are still visible today). Christian guards (payed by the Jews themselves) patrolled by boat the canals surrounding the Ghetto and did not let the Jew escape during the night. Nevertheless, the ghetto was a lively place, with shops and schools, and the pawnshops, which the Jews were obliged to run for the city; so Jews spread their commercial and cultural exchanges with the rest of the city. In 1797 Napoleon recognized equal rights to Jews and the segregation ended.

A time of prosperity for Jews began, until the Nazi persecution during Second World War: most Italian and Venetian Jews were deported and killed in Nazi camps.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Robin said...

The history of place in Europe always astounds me. It truly blows me away that there are still Jews living in those same houses that they lived in all those hundreds of years ago, still praying in the same places... Many years ago when I was there I bought a cookbook called "The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews". In addition to being a lovely cookbook, it gives a priceless look at a now-vanished Jewish rural community.

And on a lighter note, I couldn't agree more - Venice and good gelato has to be a world winning combination.

29/7/07 3:51 AM  
Blogger Robin said...

Help! I'm trying to sponsor you but that link says I need to create an account for the Blogathon? Is that right or is there a direct link to somewhere I can contribute?

29/7/07 3:53 AM  
Blogger JaniceNW said...

My favorite history to study and learn from is How the Holocaust came to be and why the world stood by and allowed it to happen. My maiden name is a common Polish Jewish name. There is even a town in Poland with the same name. My grandparents were Hungarian Catholics. My theory is people from my family decided to move across Austria-Hungary and be Catholic and hopefully safer. I can't prove this but it's my and my brother's theory.

People with our last name died in the Lublin ghetto. One of my goals is to visit Auschwitz to honor the memory of the dead.

I learned of the Holocaust when I was 15 and have been devouring books about it since then.

The Jews in Italy were treated much better than the Jews in Russia and Poland.

29/7/07 4:23 AM  
Blogger margalit said...

Robin,

You have to create an account to sponsor me. I know, it's weird, but it's the only way that they know who you are. So yes, you have to do it.

Also, I have that cookbook and I love it. It has some amazing recipes. I collect cookbooks and have so many, but that one is at the very top of my list of favorites. Plus, the writing is so interesting.

29/7/07 4:42 AM  

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