Italian city, capital of the province of Ravenna. A Jewish community existed in Ravenna from very early times; during an attack by the populace in 519 its synagogues were burned. The Jews appealed to King Theodoric at Verona, who condemned the city to rebuild the ruined synagogues at its own expense; any one unable to pay the fine levied for that purpose was condemned to the lash. About 930 R. Solomon ben Tanḥum ben Zadok was victorious in a religious controversy in the Romagna. In the early part of the thirteenth century the emperor Frederick II. undertook the defense of Donfolino, a Jew of Ravenna, against an unjust extortion by the mayor Pietro Traversari (July 11, 1226). In 1248 Cardinal Ottaviano Ubaldini, legate of Pope Innocent IV., seized Ravenna and annexed it to the papal dominions. Under the rule of the popes at least a part of the Jews lived in the quarter known as San Pietro Maggiore, where they were engaged in usury. Ravenna passed under the domination of the republic of Venice in 1441. The treaty of cession provided that in the interest of the city and of the district the Jews should be permitted to remain and lend money at the rate of interest of five denarii per lira to the citizens of the city and district of Ravenna, and of six to strangers. The Doge of Venice, Francesco Foscari, confirmed this treaty March 20, 1441.Monte di Pietà.
Toward the end of the century the Jews of Ravenna obtained leave to remove their synagogue to another locality (1489). They were, however, not left long unmolested. In a short time the fiery sermons of Fra Bernardino da Feltre, the implacable enemy of the Jews, so roused the old popular hatred against them that the money-lenders narrowly escaped expulsion. In opposition to the latter class he established the monte di pietà, an institution soon afterward approved of by Pope Julius II. (Aug. 25, 1508).
In 1508 Pope Julius joined the League of Cambrai against the Venetian republic, and in 1509 Ravenna was reconquered by the pope's nephew, Francesco Maria della Rovere, Duke of Urbino, and, until its union with the kingdom of Italy, was governed by ecclesiastical officers. The community of Ravenna was represented at the congress of rabbis held at Bologna in 1416, and at that of Forli in 1418, when the Jews of Italy united to seek a means of averting the dangers that menaced them. A similar convention was held somewhat later at Ravenna (1442), when Pope Eugene IV. issued a bull, of forty-two articles, which deprived the Jews of all the rights they had hitherto enjoyed. They were forbidden, under penalty of confiscation of property, to study anything but the Pentateuch; they were deprived of the right of residence in the city without special license from the authorities; and later all trades were prohibited to them, and the Jewish tribunals were abolished. The representatives of the Italian communities then met in synod at Tivoli, and later at Ravenna. The persistent efforts of these assemblies wrung from Gian Francesco Gonzaga permission for Jews to reside in Mantua and enjoy liberty in matters of religion, law, and commerce. At length, after payment of immense sums of money, the synod obtained the annulment of the bull.
On Feb. 10, 1535, Pope Paul III. granted the community of Ravenna certain additional privileges already enjoyed by the Jews of the Marchesand confirmed them June 30, 1540. On Aug. 12, 1553, Julius III. published an edict commanding that both Palestinian and Babylonian Talmuds be confiscated and burned. This edict was strictly enforced at Ravenna, where a number of copies of the Talmud were burned on the Sabbath day. Paul IV. (1555-59) issued several bulls conceived for the further curtailment of Jewish liberties. Under his successor, Pius IV. (1559-66), the Jews enjoyed a short respite; but Pius V., the next occupant of the pontifical throne (1566-72), pursued the malevolent policy of Paul IV., and published a bull, dated Feb. 26, 1569, ordering the complete expulsion, within three months, of the Jews from all Pontifical States but Rome and Ancona.Expelled in 1569.
With the exception of a few who abjured their faith, the unfortunate Jews emigrated in the following May, abandoning their property and all the debts due to them, the latter amounting, according to Gedaliah ibn Yaḥya ("Shalshelet ha-Ḳabbalah," p. 96b), to more than 10,000 ducats in Ravenna and Imola. Under Gregory XIII. (1572-1585) a Jewish community was again established at Ravenna, but the Jews were finally banished by Clement VIII. (1593). In 1901 there were only thirteen Jews living in the city.
- Fantuzzi, Monumenti Ravennati, i. 378; iii. 75, 362, 375, 429; v. 183;
- Gedaliah ibn Yaḥya, Shalshelet ha-Ḳabbalah, ed. Amsterdam, pp. 94a et seq.;
- Grätz, Gesch. 2d ed., v. 37, viii. 179, ix. 382;
- J. Q. R. iv. 615;
- Joseph ha-Kohen, 'Emeḳ ha-Baka, ed. Wiener, p. 90;
- Stern, Urkundliche Beiträge über die Stellung der Päpste zu den Juden, i. 78, 82;
- Vogelstein and Rieger, Gesch. der Juden in Rom, i. 130, 160; ii. 11, 146 et seq.