CULTURE From Venice to Vienna, Lost Treasures from the Ghetto

treasures ghettoBy Simone Somekh*

While the Italian city of Venice is preparing to celebrate the 500th anniversary of its renowned Jewish ghetto, the Belvedere Gallery of Vienna has presented the temporary exhibition “Lost Treasures of the Jewish Ghetto”. Displayed are several valuables, mainly ritual objects, which were hidden by the Nazis in 1943 and then found during the restoration of the Scola Spagnola several years later.

The collection, exhibited at the Winter Palace from April 28 to July 6, was restored by Venetian Heritage, an organization that seeks to safeguard the Venetian cultural heritage and promote cultural initiatives, and supported by Maison Vhernier. Among the displayed objects are silver Torah crowns, Hanukkah lamps and Torah cases.

The Jewish Ghetto of Venice was instituted in 1516, when all Venetian Jews were segregated from the rest of the city. Even though the large Jewish population was forced to live in the ghetto, the different ethnic groups within the community kept their own traditions and established five separate synagogues. Today the ghetto is not only the heart of the Jewish community of Venice, but is a meeting spot for the Jews who come visit from all around the world, too, as well as an attraction for the tourists.

In the summer the exhibition will be transferred to the Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaisme of Paris. In the meanwhile, more information and tickets are available online at the official website of the Belvedere Gallery:

*Simone Somekh is a student at Bar-Ilan University, Israel, and writes as a freelance for the Jewish Italian press.