Chief city of the Italian province of the same name. As early as the tenth century it numbered Jews among its inhabitants. They appear to have been treated with great harshness by Archbishop Raterio, and were later expelled from the city. Until 1408 they had apparently no recognized status or right of residence in Verona, although a few actually lived there and engaged in commerce. In that year (Dec. 31), shortly after Verona had passed under the government of the republic of Venice, the Jews obtained permission to live in the city and to lend money at interest. This concession met with strenuous opposition from a large number of the citizens; and all other professions were forbidden to the Jews. They lived among the Christians in the quarter of San Sebastiano, in the central part of the city, and built a synagogue in the Vicolo dei Crocioni, of which no traces now remain. In 1422 they were compelled to wear a badge, in the form of a yellow wheel, on the breast, or to pay a fine of 25 lire. The regulation, however, gradually came to be disregarded, but the ordinance decreeing the use of the badge was renewed. In 1443 the Jews were again refused permission to engage in the professions; and the shape of the badge was changed from a circle to a star. The original form was, however, restored in 1480.Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries.
By a resolution of the common council, dated March 11, 1499, the Jews were banished from the city and province of Verona, and their places were filled by Christian usurers, who so greatly oppressed the poor that the Jews were shortly afterward recalled. It is probable that some Jews remained in the city in spite of the decree of banishment; and it is certain that there were some scattered throughout the province, proof of their presence being afforded by a tombstone of this period, found in the neighboring village of Lonato. But, whether they never really quitted the province, or whether they gradually returned to it, in 1526 the citizens of Verona petitioned the Venetian republic to prohibit the Jews from lending moneyat interest in the city and territory of Verona. This request was granted, and the decree of prohibition was ratified on Dec. 4, 1548. In 1527 a yellow cap ("berretto") was substituted for the wheel-badge. An old manuscript, dated 1539, now in the possession of the Hebrew community of Verona, contains an account of the Jewish assemblies, of the amount of their taxes, of the fines levied on them, etc. In 1578 the Israelites were forbidden to pawn articles at the monte di pietà (see Pledges, Historical View).The Ghetto.
After their expulsion from the Milanese territory, some of the refugees settled in Verona (1597). In 1599 Agostino Valieri, Bishop of Verona, resolved to segregate the Jews in a ghetto; but, not finding a suitable location, he contented himself by enforcing the obligation of wearing the yellow cap. In the same year the Jews opened their cemetery, which remained in use until 1755. In 1604 the bishop carried out his designs, and enclosed the Jews in a ghetto, in a place called "Sotto i Tetti" (under the roofs). At this time they numbered about 400 and possessed twenty-five shops. All expenses for the improvement of the ghetto were borne by the Jews themselves; and they were obliged to borrow in order to build a synagogue. Finally they obtained a license, renewable every five years, to live in the city, on condition of the payment of a special tax. When the plague broke out in Verona in 1630, the Jews remained immune, which so enraged the Christians that they cast into the ghetto the garments infected by the sick, and thus spread the pestilence among its inhabitants.
At this epoch many Hebrew books were published at Verona, among them being Midrash Tanḥuma (1595), the Book of Isaiah (1625), the Psalms (1644), and "'En Yisrael" (1649). In 1645 the synagogue was supplied with an Ark of the Law of red marble and a beautiful and costly "tebah," also of marble. In 1655 a large number of Maranos, headed by Mosé Gaon and Giovanni Navarra, obtained leave to settle in Verona, for commercial purposes; and habitations were assigned them in what was known as the "Ghetto Nuovo" (New Ghetto). These Jews were called "Ponentini"; the others, "Levantines" or "Greeks." In 1766 there were two Jewish physicians in Verona; in 1790, four.
On the night of Oct. 30, 1786, a terrible conflagration accidentally broke out in the ghetto, and raged fiercely for three days, notwithstanding the efforts of Jews and Christians alike to extinguish it. During the course of the fire five Jews were killed and a great number injured. The painter Vita Greco has commemorated this disaster in one of his pictures.The French Occupation.
During the occupation of Verona by the French in 1797, the gates of the ghetto were torn down and burned in the public square; and thenceforth the Hebrews were permitted to reside in any portion of the city. On June 2 of that year a decree was issued, ordering that the Jews be represented in the council of commerce. On the restoration of the Austrian government a fanatical hatred of the Jews was fomented among the Christian population by the priests; and the Jews were so overwhelmed with insults, affronts, and injuries that the Austrian governor of the province was obliged to interfere. A proclamation was issued Jan. 22, 1798, forbidding, under heavy penalties, the molestation of any citizen, by word or act; but the ill treatment of the Jews continued almost unabatedly until the issue of a second proclamation (Aug. 17, 1799), which definitely forbade all further molestation of them. They fared better on the resumption of French domination in 1805. Verona was represented by Israel Coen at the great Sanhedrin at Paris in 1806.
The community has now (1905) greatly diminished. In 1766 the Jews in Verona numbered 881; in 1770 there were 905; in 1864 they had increased to 1,200; while at the present day there are only 600.Philanthropic Associations.
Many of the ancient Hebrew associations of Verona still exist, the principal ones being: La Misericordia (Hebrew name, "Gemilut Ḥasadim"), founded in 1599; the confraternity for the religious burial of the dead ("Gomel Dallim"), founded about 1599; the society for the aid of the sick poor ("Biḳḳur Ḥolim"), founded in 1610, with which the association for the proper attendance on the dead ("Liwyat Ḥen") was affiliated in 1765; "Shomerim la-Boḳer" (1610), and "Mishmeret ha-Ḥodesh" (1646), both devoted to the recitation of prayers; a confraternity for the recital of the "Tiḳḳun-Ḥaẓot" (1655; see Zunz, "Ritus," p. 152); and "Limmude Adonai" (1703), for the pursuit of religious studies.
The following rabbis and scholars were natives or residents of Verona:
- Twelfth and thirteenth centuries: Eleazar b. Samuel of Verona.
- Sixteenth century: Elihu Behr, Baruch Bassani, Joshua Jacob ben Johanan Heilpron, Moses Margalit, Abraham Menahem ben Jacob Porto, and Abraham ben Jehiel Porto.
- Seventeenth century: Judah Löb Ashkenazi, Hezekiah Mordecai ben Samuel Ḥayyim Bassani, Israel Hezekiah Bassani, Gershom ben Mordecai Bassani, Mordecai ben Jacob Bassani, Isaiah ben Mordecai Bassani, Isaac Cardoso, Simeon Cohen, Samuel ben Jacob Meldola, Samuel ben Raphael Meldola, Samuel Merari, Moses Abraham ben Moses Romanin, Joseph Shaliṭ ben Eliezer Richetti, Abraham Shalliṭ, Isaac ben Samuel Levi Valle, Judah ben Moses Fano, and Abraham Ẓemaḥ.
- Eighteenth century: Solomon ben Israel Bassani, Jacob ben Manasseh Gentili, Manasseh ben Jacob Gentili, Joseph Marin, Menahem Navarra, Uzziel Joel Pincherle, and Nethaneel ben Uzziel Joel Pincherle.
- Nineteenth century: Moses Shabbethai Beer, Abramo Mainster, David Samuel Pardo, Jacob Vita ben David Samuel Pardo, Samuel ben David Samuel Pardo, Jacob Ḥai Recanati, Emanuele (Menahem) Recanati, Abraham Grego, David Fortis, and Angelo Carpi.
- D. Fortis, in Educatore Israelita, xi. 199, 301 et seq., 392 et seq.; xii. 68 et seq., 110 et seq., 209 et seq.;
- S. Calabi, ib. xi. 78 et seq., 234 et seq.;
- Joseph ha-Kohen, 'Emeḳ ha-Baka, ed. Wiener, p. 135;
- Della Corte, Storia di Verona, 1592, book xiv., pp. 297 et seq.;
- Mortara, Indice, passim;
- Migne Patrologia, Latin series, clvi. 535;
- Güdemann, Gesch. ii. 32.