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REGGIO:

  • 1. Italian city on the Strait of Messina; capital of the province of Reggio di Calabria. The presence of Jews in Calabria as early as 398 is attested by an edict of Emperor Honorius; but there is little further information about this community until the reign of Emperor Frederick II. The ghetto, known in the city records as the Strada Giudeca, was in the northwestern part of the city, and was without any communication with the central part: the Jews entered and departed through the Porte Anzana. The Jews of Reggio, some of whom were wealthy, followed various trades. The most common industry was that of silk-manufacturing. Many were merchants, united in an important gild, which was affiliated with gilds in other communities of Calabria. Jews were licensed to lend money at a rate of interest not exceeding 10 per cent. Frederick II. tolerated their presence and did not ill-treat them, though in 1221 he obliged them to distinguish themselves from Christians by wearing a badge. Joanna II. was very harsh toward them, and threatened them with banishment as a result of accusations of usury and of lending money to the citizens of Reggio on products and manufactures. Perceiving, however, that these accusations were greatly exaggerated, she contented herself with levying a tax upon them of one-third of a scudo per head.Until the year 1486 civil and criminal cases among the Hebrews were tried before a magistrate specially appointed for this purpose; after that date they were tried before the ordinary judges. In 1492, after the expulsion from Spain, a large number of Spanish Jews settled in Reggio, much increasing the size and commercial importance of the community. The citizens of Reggio were accustomed to sell their silk to the Jews, who lent them money for the "feeding of the silkworms," at an interest of 4 tari on every pound of silk. The Jews thus controlled the silk-market, or fair, which was held each year at Reggio from the l5th to the 31st of August, and which was attended by dealers from all parts of the country, especially from Lucca and Genoa. These merchants, enraged at the monopoly held by the Jews, sought to have them banished from this territory; they succeeded in their efforts in the beginning of the sixteenth century. During the vice-regency of Don Raimondo di Cardona the Genoese secretly denounced the Jews to the government of Naples, which accordingly forwarded an adverse report in regard to them to the King of Spain, depicting the alleged nefarious proceedings of the Jewish gilds and urging the necessity of expelling the Jews from Calabria. On this report the king commanded the banishment of all Jews from Calabria before July 25, 1511. The unfortunate Jews were compelled to depart, and the communities of Reggio, Catanzaro, Corigliano, Belcastro, Tropea, Castrovillari, Altomonte, Rossano, Montalto, and many others, ceased to exist. The exiles went first to Messina, and later to Rome, Leghorn, and other Italian cities.In the fifteenth century a Hebrew printing-press, the property of Abraham Garton, existed at Reggio: here was produced the first edition of Rashi, which was likewise the first dated Hebrew book ever printed. See Incunabula.Bibliography: D. Spano-Bolani, Archivio Storico per le Province Napolitane, vi. 335. et seq.; Güdemann, Gesch. ii. 240.S. U. C.
  • 2. Italian city, capital of the province of Reggio nell' Emilia. Borso, first Duke of Ferrara, Modena, and Reggio, considered the presence of the Jews, who were residing in Reggio as early as 1445, necessary to the welfare of his state, and sought and obtained from Pope Nicholas V. permission to retain them; he secured also a promise that they should conduct unmolested their banking business and possess their synagogues in peace. These privileges granted by Borso were confirmed and extended by his successor, Ercole I. (Dec. 16, 1473). But during the latter's reign his dominions were visited by the preacher Bernardino da Feltre, a bitter enemy of the Jews. In 1498 Ercole decreed that every Jew in his territories should wear a yellow cap. Alfonso I. (June 11, 1503) and Ercole II. (Nov. 20, 1534) confirmed the rights and privileges of the Jews.In the sixteenth century the community of Reggio joined with the other communities of Italy—Rome, Venice, Padua, Ferrara, Mantua, Modena—in the formation of a Jewish committee for the revision of Hebrew books, their purpose being to consider means of avoiding the ecclesiastical censorship. After the expulsion of the Jews from the duchy of Milan in 1597 many of the exiles fled to Reggio. In the beginning of the seventeenth century the Duke of Modena and Reggio invited a large number of Portuguese Jews to settle in his territory, promising them liberal concessions. Modena and Reggio remained under the rule of the house of Este until they were incorporated in the Cisalpine Republic. During this period there is no record of the political status of the Jews. There was a temporary change for the better in their condition during the French Revolution, and until Modena and Reggio were united to the Cisalpine Republic in 1797; in 1815 the duchy of Modena was formed, under Francesco IV., and lasted until 1860, when Modena and Reggio both became part of the united kingdom of Italy.The most noted scholars and rabbis of Reggio were: Isaac Foa, Immanuel Sonino, Obadiah ben Israel Sforno (16th cent.). Nathan ben Reuben David Spira (d. Reggio, 1607), Menahem Azariah Fano, Baruch Abraham ben Elhanan David Foa, Hezekiah ben Isaac Foa, Isaac ben Vardama Foa, Israel Nissim Foa, Israel Solomon Longhi (17th cent.), Isaiah Mordecai ben Israel Hezekiah Bassani, Israel Benjamin ben Isaiah Bassani, Elhanan David Carmi, Benjamin ben Eliezer ha-Kohen, Joshua ben Raphael Fermi, Moses Benjamin Foa, Abram Michael Fontanella, Judah Ḥayyim Fontanella, Israel Berechiah Fontanella, Raphael Jehiel Sanguinetti (18th cent.), Isaac Samson d'Angeli, R. J. Bolognese, Hananiah Elhanan Ḥai ha-Kohen, Jacob Levi, Moses Benjamin Levi, Israel Berechiah Sanguinetti, David Jacob Maroni, Giuseppe Lattes, Alessandro da Fano, and Lazzaro Laide Tedesco (19th cent.).Bibliography: R. E. J. xx. 34 et seq.; Vogelstein and Rieger. Gesch. der Juden in Rom, ii. 179; Grätz, Gesch. 2d ed., ix. 506; Mortara, Indice.S. U. C.
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