Italia Judaica


Project Director until March 2019: Prof. Shlomo Simonsohn z”l


Project Director: Dr. Ilana Wartenberg

Tel: 03-6409953

About the Project 


Among the Center’s many scholarly enterprises, one project stands out for its scholarship and continuity: the “Italia Judaica” Project.  Established in 1960 by Professor Shlomo Simonsohn z”l in collaboration with colleagues from Israel and abroad, the “Italia Judaica” Project has been investigating the history of Jews in the countries along the Mediterranean littoral and in Italy in particular. The results are published in print and on the internet, and are discussed at international conferences dealing with the history of Italian Jewry.


With the passing of Prof. Simonsohn z”l, Dr. Ilana Wartenberg was chosen to continue his legacy in the Italia Judaica Project. She began her work at the Center in July 2019.


Bilingualism in Medieval and Early Modern Scientific Texts in Italy 

Researcher: Dr. Ilana Wartenberg


The Hebrew Renaissance of the twelfth century turned the Hebrew language into a scientific lingua franca for Jews. Many treatises in mathematics and astronomy, among other fields, were written in the Hebrew language. However, given the lack of scientific terminology in Hebrew, especially in the field of mathematics, it was necessary to coin thousands of new terms in order to reflect the current state of the medieval scientific knowledge. In the field of mathematics, the two Abrahams (Bar Ḥayya and Ibn Ezra) were the linguistic pioneers, followed by generations of translators and authors.


The history of science among Jews in Italy at the end of the Middle Ages presents a clear division: the one branch consists of the translations and dissemination of scientific works directly related to Arabic science, many composed by Sephardic authors, and whose language was pure Hebrew. The second branch consists of often simpler Hebrew scientific works deriving from Latin and vernacular sources, with scientific terms often in the vernacular and not in Hebrew.


This research aims to provide better understanding of the Hebrew scientific language and its co-existence with Latin and the vernacular. Furthermore, it will shed further light on the intellectual and linguistic history of Italian Jews at the end of the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period.



Historical Lexicon of the Jews in Italy 


The lexicon covers the history of all the Jewish communities in Italy, from the Roman era through the Emancipation, and is intended for use by scholars and students, as well as interested members of the public. It is accompanied by a bibliography based on the six published volumes, and is brought up to date continuously by the editorial board and by the public.


The Lexicon is presented in Italian, but it is accessible through the Google Chrome browser to provide translation into Hebrew, English, and a number of other languages. Scholars from Israel and abroad contributed entries under the editorship of Prof. Shlomo Simonsohn z”l, and the site will operate under the auspices of the Goldstein-Goren Diaspora Research Center of Tel Aviv University. The site's editorial board consists of Italian and Israeli historians. An updated Bibliography accompanies the Lexicon. The possibility of expanding the project to include additional activities – like tours of Jewish Italy, films on Jewish communities in Italy past and present, lecture series, publications, and conferences are envisaged as the project continues.


Historical Lexicon of the Jews in Italy 




Forthcoming Books

The Jews of Italy in the Middle Ages: The South and Papal States, Vol. II, Leiden-Boston: Brill Publishers; Expected date of publication: 2019.


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