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Law Library Program to Mark 500th Anniversary of the Jewish Ghetto of Venice

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Engraved frontispiece depicting the Lion of Saint Mark in Novissimum Statutorum ac Venetarum Legum Volumen, Venice, 1729.

The Law Library of Congress, in collaboration with the Embassy of Italy and the Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Maryland, will host a program on Tuesday, May 24 to mark the 500th anniversary since the establishment of the Jewish Ghetto of Venice in 1516.

The program, “La Città degli Ebrei/The City of the Jews: Segregated Space and the Admission of Strangers in the Jewish Ghetto of Venice,” will feature University of Maryland history professors Bernard Cooperman and Stefano Villani whose presentations are titled “The Ghetto of Venice: Real-World Problems under Segregation,” and “To Be a Foreigner in Early Modern Italy: Were There Ghettos for Non-Catholic Christians?”

On March 29, 1516, the Venetian Republic required Jews in Venice to reside within a walled area within the city, separate from the surrounding Catholic population. The site chosen for this segregated area came to be known as the “Ghetto”— the first such walled enclosure in European history to be described by that word. The walled district was mostly inhabited by Jews who had once lived freely in Venice and Jews who had been expelled from Spain or had fled religious persecution in Portugal. The Jewish population of Venice was required to live within this walled district until the 18th century. Today, the Jewish Ghetto of Venice is remembered as an important Italian center of Jewish life and the site where many early Hebrew books were first printed, including the Hebrew Bible and the Babylonian Talmud.

Our event will be held from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Room LJ-119, located on the first floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Tickets are not required.

The program will also feature a display of rare books and documents related to the Jewish Ghetto of Venice, drawn from the Law Library, the Library of Congress Geography and Maps Division, its Rare Book and Special Collections Division, its European Division and the Hebraic Section of its African and Middle Eastern Division.

We hope you can join us!


  1. I do not live in the D.C. area and cannot attend the program in person.
    Will there be any online access to this program? Live transmission? Taped podcast? Photos/images of display items?

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