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The European history of the Jews in Gorizia

Gorizia and Nova Gorica. Italy and Slovenia. Two towns, once separated by the iron curtain, united today by the shared award of 2025’s “European Culture Capital”. A dossier significantly centred also on the glorious local Jewish history, testified by numerous, recent and less recent traces, and particularly on the renovation and improvement of the Valdirose cemetery – today Slovenian territory – where some of the great Jews of Gorizia rest: from rabbi Isacco Samuele Reggio to philosopher Carlo Michaelstaedter, from linguist Graziadio Isaia Ascoli to journalist Carolina Luzzatto Coen. Thanks to the Jewish Cultural Heritage Foundation in Italy, which has taken this commitment to heart for a long time.
The occasion to take stock of the project, developed from an idea of the Pagine Ebraiche newsroom, was given by an online seminar titled “The two Gorizias united in the restoration of the memory of the ancient Jewish presence”. Numerous and qualified were the interventions for the restoration of the cemetery, which is unique because of its cross-border location.
“This evening we are going to linger on one of the most relevant projects we are working on, focused on the improvement of an asset of crucial importance at Italian as well as European level” stated president of the Foundation Dario Disegni in his opening greeting. A meaningful collaboration between two towns which not long ago were symbol of two mutually hostile worlds, occurring in the sign of a history, that of the Jewish Gorizia, “which saw the convergence of Jews from all over the Austro-Hungarian Empire, from Italy, and, through Triest, from Dalmatia”. In other words, “a great European history”, which can also be revisited through a forthcoming website available in Italian, Slovenian and English.
Pointing out the great value of this endeavour were also the other institutional representatives intervened: Nova Gorica’s Deputy Major Damjana Pavlica, Gorizia’s Mayor Rodolfo Ziberna through a video-message, vice-president of the Jewish Community in Triest Livio Vasieri, Head of the History Department at Udine University Andrea Zannini and a representative from the Beneficentia Stiftung Foundation.
Maddalena Del Bianco, professor of History of Religions at Udine University, gave an historical background recalling how and why Gorizia is known as “Isonzo’s Jerusalem”, and historian Renato Podbersic, from Nova Gorica University, elaborated in detail the Valdirose case.
Afterwards project manager Andrea Morpurgo and Renzo Funaro, respectively counselor and vice-president of the Foundation, took the stage. The interventions will be implemented with the most advanced technical systems of detection, cataloguing and preservation, it was explained.
The contributions to the last session of the seminar, dedicated to what being a “European Culture Capital” entails, were inspiring: Paolo Verri’s, head of the Matera Basilicata 2019 Foundation, and in conclusion Lorenzo De Sabbata’s, coordinator of the dossier dedicated to the two Gorizias. Giorgio Segrè, member of the Foundation’s committee, moderated the meeting.

Translated by Silvia Bozzo and revised by Antonella Losavio, students at the Advanced School for Interpreters and Translators of Trieste University, interns at the newspaper office of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities