Padua and its many illustrious sons, from Leone Romanin Jacur to Shadal
On Sunday 10 October, Padua will be the leading Italian city of the 22nd European Day of Jewish Culture, which this year is dedicated to the theme of “Dialogue”. An international centre of reference for rabbinic education, Jewish Padua has expressed a vast array of intellectuals, academics, and professionals in several different ages and represents at its best the spirit of pluralism that the European event is aimed at highlighting. The program of the European Day of Jewish Culture, which will be held all across Italy, are available online.
The figures who have given and continue to give prestige to Jewish Padua are countless. Among them Leone Romanin Jacur (1847-1928), one of the main architects of the reclamation of the Venetian area of the Po Delta. He is also a great protagonist of national political life, with eleven mandates representing the Piove di Sacco Board. Elected to the Chamber for the first time in 1888, he will be undersecretary of state for public works and from October 1920 senator of the Kingdom. “With Leone Romanin Jacur a noble spirit disappeared, a blameless patriot, a worthy member of parliament and a citizen, a technician of great value” so was he remembered by the Parliament at the time of his death.
“For fifty years he tirelessly advocated reclamations, both with the personal example given in his lands, precious work of technician carried out during the major reclamations in Veneto, and the activity of writer, deputy and man of government, deserving gratitude and undying praise”. His role in the community was also important: he was president of the community for several years and in 1897 he participated in the drafting of the Reunion Plan of the Jewish Pious Works.
“Spaghetti and Levi-Civita”. This is the answer that Albert Einstein gave one day to those who asked him what he liked about Italy. He was referring not to Giacomo, the mayor of Padua at the beginning of the century, but to his son Tullio 1873-1941), one of the greatest mathematicians of his time, with whom he was very close. It was Einstein himself who recognized to his colleague the merit of making some observations on the Theory of Relativity which were decisive for its definitive formulation.
Starting from the racist laws onwards he was completely isolated from his environment. A crater on the moon, an asteroid, and since November 2016 the Mathematics department of the University of Padua were dedicated to him.
Among the rabbis, it is also worth remembering Meir Katzenellenbogen (1482-1565), born in Prague, who became a figure of reference in the legal field. Other masters – passed into history such as Ovadia Sforno, Salomone Luria or Samuele da Modena turned to him. Instead, Samuel David Luzzatto, born in Trieste (1800-1865) and known as Shadal was rabbi and poet, historian and biblical exegete. He was a teacher and cornerstone of the Rabbinical College that was established in Padua in 1829.
The poet Umberto Saba will be his descendant on the mother’s side and will dedicate a few pages to him in Ricordi – Racconti (1910-1947) published in the 1950s with prefaces by Guido Piovene and Carlo Levi.
Above, Leone Romanin Jacur in an evocative signed portrait.
Translated by Antonella Losavio and revised by Oyebuchi Lucia Leonard, students at the Advanced School for Interpreters and Translators of the University of Trieste, interns at the newspaper office of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities.