Rivalry with Ancona.

Town in the Marches, Italy, formerly belonging to the duchy of Urbino. It has numbered some Jews among its inhabitants since the fifteenth century. One of the first Hebrew printers, Abraham b. Ḥayyim dei Tintori, was born there. But the Jewish community became important only when Duke Guido Ubaldo of Urbino opened the town to the Maranos who were persecuted by the Inquisition in the papal domains (1555). They settled in Pesaro in great numbers, and planned a commercial war on a large scale against the domains of the popes. After Paul IV. had caused the Maranos to be burned in Ancona (1556) and new fugitives arrived in Pesaro, it was resolved to boycott the port of Ancona, and to direct the entire commerce of the Jews to Pesaro (see Ancona). It soon became evident that the trade of Ancona had decreased, and that the town had become visibly poorer. The Jews of that town were near-sighted enough to prefer their own advantage to that of the race. They sent messengers to the Jews in Turkey asking the latter not to injure them; and they depicted in the most terrible manner the dangers which threatened them on the part of the pope.

A struggle ensued between the two communities, each of which endeavored to influence the merchants of Turkey in its favor. Donna Gracia Mendesia, Don Joseph Nasi, and, on their representations, Rabbi Joseph ibn Leb of Constantinople, warmly advocated the cause of the Pesarians; but an opposition was formed under the leadership of Rabbi Joshua Soncin. Furthermore, as the harbor of Pesaro did not offer sufficient security for vessels, the merchants refused to entertain the boycott of Paul IV. Thus the magnificently conceived plan of vengeance failed of execution. Duke Guido Ubaldo, who had received the Maranos merely on account of the profit he expected to gain through them, exiled them from his dominions. Seven hundred Maranos were obliged to flee in all haste on shipboard, and they required large amounts of money. The community of Pesaro then sent envoys, under the leadership of Solomon Maẓliaḥ. b. Raphael Elijah Finzi da Recanati, to solicit the necessary funds, and the means were soon procured. But only with great difficulty did the majority of the Maranos elude the naval police of the pope; some, indeed, were taken prisoners and treated as slaves.

Old Synagogue at Pesaro.(From a drawing by Albert Hochreiter.)

The community was obliged on another occasion to intercede in favor of the Maranos. The cruel persecutor of heretics Pius V. in 1569 banished the Jews from the territory of the Papal States. Ships and means were again held in readiness in Pesaro for the benefit of the emigrants; the majority of them went eastward, to Palestine, where at that time Don Joseph Nasi intended to found colonies. However, 102 persons were seized by pirates during the voyage, and the Jews of the community of Pesaro implored Don Joseph to render assistance to the unfortunate.

Under Papal Rule.

Pesaro did not regain its former prosperity so far as the Jews were concerned. When the duchy of Urbino came under the rule of the popes (1632), Jews were prohibited from dwelling in a great number of towns, and moved to Pesaro; but even here they were subject to all the terrors and prohibitions common under the papal rule. They were especially restricted in regard to their earnings; consequently the community remained poor. According to a report of the papal legate in 1789 it numbered 500 persons, including fifty who were dependent upon alms. Of an income of 1843 scudi, 272 scudi went to native poor and 280 to foreign; 250 were spent for the school, and 288 for religious purposes. Thereceipts of the community included taxes which foreign Jewish merchants were obliged to pay on their goods. From the beginning of the French Revolution the community had to share the vicissitudes of the Italian Jews generally, until in 1861 it was emancipated on the formation of the new kingdom of Italy. The Jews, who could not in large numbers earn a livelihood in Pesaro, emigrated, and the community rapidly decreased until in 1901 it counted only ninety-three members.


The rabbis of Pesaro include: Jehiel b. Azriel Trabotti (1519) and his grandson of the same name (1571); Meshullam b. Isaac da Ariccia; Benjamin b. Mattathiah; Moses Jehiel b. Solomon da Casio; Isaac b. Joseph Forti; Jehiel Mondolfo (1569); Moses Hezekiah b. Isaac ha-Levi and Mahalaleel Jedidiah b. Baruch Ascoli (1574), who signed the ban placed upon Azariah dei Rossi's "Me'or 'Enayim"; Menahem b. Jacob da Perugia; Moses Nissim; Elijah Recanatiand Isaac Raphael Ventura (1569); Raphael Hai Mondolfo (1620); Shabbethai Beer da Fossombrone (1650); Isaac b. Moses Ventura (1630); Isaac Hananiah Ventura (1650); Isaiah Romini (see "J. Q. R." xiv. 171); Jacob Israel Bemporat (1725); Isaac b. Jedidiah da Urbino (1726); Jacob b. Moses da Fano (1750); Jedidiah Zechariah da Urbino(1750); Daniel b. Moses David Terni (1789). Amatus Lusitanus and Gedaliah ibn Yaḥya also lived temporarily in Pesaro about 1555.

The Talmud was burned in Pesaro in 1553.

  • The activity of the community of Pesaro in favor of the Maranos was discovered by David Kaufmann, who published the records in R. E. J. xx. 47, et seq., xxxi. 231 et seq., and in J. Q. R. iv. 509, ix. 254;
  • comp. R. E. J. xvi. 249, xxxiii. 83;
  • Mortara, Indice.
G. I. E.—Typography:

The celebrated printer Gershon b. Moses of the Soncino family removed his press to the Papal Marches in 1505, and two years later began to publish in Pesaro a number of important Hebrew books, all of which were printed with the elegance and accuracy that characterized the productions of this family. Among the works printed by the Soncinos at Pesaro (of which a list may be found under Soncino) the following may be mentioned here: three editions of Beḥai (Baḥya) on the Pentateuch, 1507, 1514, 1517; "Petaḥ Debarai," with notes by Elijah Levita, 1507; Former Prophets, with Ḳimḥi and Abravanel, 1511; Bible, 1511, 1517; RaMBaN and RaLBaG on the Pentateuch, 1514; complete Bible and "'Aruk," 1517; Midrash Rabbah, 1519; and Later Prophets, with Abravanel, 1520. A considerable number of Talmudic treatises, twenty-one in all, were printed; of these E. N. Adler of London and others possess copies of 'Erubin, Sukkah, Yebamot Baba Batra, Shebu'ot, 'Abodah Zarah, and Ḥullin (title-page).

At the same time works by Greek, Latin, and Italian authors were published at Pesaro by Girolamo (Hieronymus) Soncino. For a long time Girolamo and Gershon were taken to be two different persons, until in 1866 Luigi Tossini asserted for the first time that they were identical, explaining the Latin name on the hypothesis that Gershon Soncino had been converted to Christianity. This, however, is not correct; for, as Soave has shown, he merely Latinized his name. He went from Pesaro to Rimini and Ortona, and finally to Constantinople, where he lived as a Jew until his death.

  • G. B. de Rossi, Annales Hebræo-Typographici:
  • Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. cols. 3052, 3102;
  • Soave, Dci Soncino, Venice, 1878;
  • Manzoni, Annali Tipografici dei Soncino, Bologna, 1887 et seq.
J. I. E.
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