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FORLI ():

City in the Romagna, Italy. It is mentioned for the first time in connection with Jewish history by Hillel of Verona, who lived at Forli for some time about 1290, and there wrote his circular letter to Maestro Gaio and his work "Tagmule ha-Nefesh." The community then seems to have been a small one; for Hillel felt like an exile, rarely receiving news of the outside world. The community continued to exist, however, and in 1373 a Mishneh Torah was sold there to R. Jekuthiel b. Abigdor of Forli (Cod. Oxford, No. 601). Forli became noted through the congress of representatives from the communities of Rome, Padua, Ferrara, Bologna, Romagna, and Tuscany, held there May 18, 1418. In conformity with the resolutions formulated at Bologna in Dec., 1415, it was decided to send a deputation to Pope Martin V. at Rome to obtainfrom him new privileges and confirmation of the old ones. A tax of 1½ ducats on every 1,000 ducats in money and real estate was levied upon the communities in order to pay the heavy expenses of this embassy and other expenses necessary for the common good; the individual members, with the exception of those receiving alms, were also taxed ½ to 1½ ducats, according to their means. Provisions were likewise made for regulating the collection of the taxes and the organization of the communities.

The same congress issued several decrees pertaining to the internal affairs of the communities, which were evidently intended, on the one hand, to elevate their moral tone, and, on the other hand, to avoid everything that might attract the attention or the envy of the Christian population. The people were forbidden to play cards or dice or to permit the same to be played in their houses; men and women alike were forbidden to wear luxurious garments or ornaments, or to go through the streets together in large numbers; display at banquets and family festivals and the pompous escort of brides were greatly restricted; sexual immorality in particular was severely condemned. These decrees were to remain in force till the end of 5186 (= 1426); all violations were to be punished by fines or by excommunication; and the men were held responsible for the women. The decrees were signed by the Jews of Forli as well as by the foreign delegates.

Nothing is known of the subsequent history of the community of Forli. It doubtless shared the varied fortunes of the other Jews in the Pontifical States in the sixteenth century (compare Bologna), and was dissolved when the Jews were expelled. Nor did any Jews return to the city.

The following rabbis and scholars of Forli are known: Elijah b. Menahem Alatrini; Moses b. Jekuthiel Ḥefeẓ, a member of the Zifroni family, who in 1383 copied for David b. Solomon Rofe the Codex Almanzi No. 79; Elijah b. Moses Alatrini, who copied (1389) MS. de Rossi No. 286 for Moses b. Daniel of Forli; Aaron Strassburg, 1486; Elias b. Isaac da Mestre, who wrote a mathematical work in 1497 (Codex Michael, No. 185); Solomon b. Eliakim Finzi, rabbi at Forli in 1536; Eliezer b. Benjamin Finzi of Arezzo, rabbi in 1537; and about the same time Abraham b. Daniel da Modena and Asher b. Isaiah da Montagna occupied the rabbinate.

Bibliography:
  • On Hillel of Verona, comp. Tagmule ha-Nefesh, ed. Lyck, Introduction;
  • on the congress at Forli, Gratz Jubelschrift, Hebr. text, pp. 53 et seq.;
  • on the rabbis, Mortara, Indice.
G. I. E.
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