A small peninsula at the northern end of the Adriatic Sea, having about 320,000 inhabitants, of whom 285 are Jews. Ethnographically it is Italian, although politically it is under Austrian rule. At times it has included the city of Triest, which now forms a province by itself and has a very important Jewish community. In Istria, as in almost the whole of Europe, the Jews conducted banks for lending money, the first of them being opened in 1380 at Capo d'Istria; others were subsequently founded at Isola, Pirano, Rovigno, Pola, and Veglia. The street in which the Jewish bankers and their associates were located was called "Ghetto"; and this name was preserved even after their departure.

The "Capitoli."

The most important of these banks seems to have been that in Pirano, of which the "capitoli" ("capitula Judæorum Pirani"), i.e., agreements between the city of Pirano and the said bankers, approved by the republic of Venice in 1484, are still extant. Under these "capitoli" the city of Pirano was obliged to provide the Jews with sound animals for slaughter according to Hebrew rites, and with a field for a cemetery, and to permit them to invite other "Zudei," including teachers for their sons, to settle in the city. Jews above thirteen years of age were obliged to wear an "O" on their clothing, but not within Venetian domains. Jewesses were exempt from this rule. The Jews did not possess a synagogue, but their religious services were held in a house under the protection of the city. At Isolathe bank was conducted by a certain Meïr, who in 1478 left it to his wife Richa.

Family Names Derived from Istria.

In 1634 a "monte di pietà," in opposition to the bank of the Jews, was established at Pirano by the city, and later others were opened elsewhere in Istria. In consequence the Jews disappeared toward the end of the seventeenth century. Most of them then went to Italy, where there still exist Jewish family names derived from Istrian towns, as "Muggia," "Parenzo," "Coen Pirani," etc. Others settled at Triest, where their gifts to the synagogue are still remembered in the Yom Kippur service. At Muggia, a little Istrian town on the gulf of the same name, opposite Triest, there is an inscription on the town hall recording the expulsion of the Jews in 1532.

Istria was the field of operations of the pseudo-Messiah Asher Lämmlein about 1502.

Asher Lämmlein.

Most of the 285 Jews in Istria in 1900 were engaged in commerce. There were 20 at Rovigno, 14 at Parenzo, 10 at Capo d'Istria, and 112 at Pola, where a new congregation is now (1903) being organized. The remainder were scattered here and there. The Jews of Pola, for the most part German, are without a synagogue, but since there is a large garrison at the place and many Jews serve in the army or in the navy, the government supports a minister, who is sent from Triest on the high festivals to hold religious services in a room in the navy building, to which all Jews are admitted. There has been recently assigned to them ground for a cemetery.

In accordance with the law of March 4, 1890, the Jews of Istria form part of the Jewish community of Triest.

  • Ive Antonio. Dei Banchi Feneratizi degli Ebrei di Pirano, Rovigno, 1881;
  • R. E. J. April-June, 1881;
  • Grätz, Gesch. ix. 72, 214, 215.
D. V. C.
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