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The Jewish Ghetto of Venice
|Location 45° 26′ 43″ N, 12° 19′ 35″ E|
|Address Sestiere Cannaregio, 2892, 30121 Venice|
|Open to visitors yes|
|Need appointment no|
|Handicap accessibility yes|
|Geographical Coordinates 45.44531,12.32636|
The Venetian Ghetto was the area of Venice in which Jews were compelled to live under the Venetian Republic. The Venetian Ghetto (incidentally, the first Ghetto) was instituted in 1516, though political restrictions on Jewish rights and residences existed before that date.
Today, the Ghetto is still a center of Jewish life in the city. The Jewish Community of Venice is of such cultural vitality that it is often a center for the cultural life of the entire city.
In the Ghetto area there is also a yeshiva, several Judaica shops, and a Chabad synagogue run by Chabad of Venice. Although only around 300 of Venice's roughly 1,000 Jews still live in the Ghetto, many return there during the day for religious services in the two synagogues which are still used.
History and time period
Though it was home to a large number of Jews, the population living in the Venetian Ghetto never assimilated to form a distinct, "Venetian Jewish" ethnicity. Four of the five synagogues were clearly divided according to ethnic identity: separate synagogues existed for the German (the Scuola Grande Tedesca), Italian (the Scuola Italiana), Spanish and Portuguese (the Scuola Spagnola), and Levantine Sephardi communities (The Scola Levantina). The fifth, the Scuola Canton, is believed to have been either French, or a private synagogue for the families who funded its construction. Today, there are also populations of Ashkenazic Jews in Venice, mainly Lubavitchers who operate one of two kosher foodstores, a yeshiva, and the aforementioned Chabad synagogue.
Languages historically spoken in the confines of the Ghetto include Venetian, Italian, Judeo-Spanish, Judeo-Arabic, French, and German. In addition, Hebrew was traditionally (and still is) used on signage, inscriptions, and for official purposes such as wedding contracts (as well as, of course, in religious services). Today, English is widely used in the shops and the Museum because of the large number of English-speaking tourists.
Notable residents of the Ghetto include Leon of Modena, whose family originated in France, as well as his disciple Sarah Coppio Sullam. She was an accomplished writer, debater (through letters), and even hosted her own salon. Meir Magino, the famous glassmaker, also came from the ghetto.