It has been estimated that prior to the Inquisition, at least forty per cent of the combined population of Calabria and Sicily was Jewish. In fact, in dozens of small towns and villages throughout Calabria and Sicily, interesting remnants of Jewish life remain to this day. Historians have discovered indications of a thriving Jewish presence in the "quartiere" in major cities and the "via giudecca" in smaller towns and communities.
With the advent of the Inquisition in Italy, when the long arm of Torquemada, reached into Sicily and Calabria, many of these Jewish families were forced to flee, convert (marranos) or practice in secret (crypto-Jews). Yet, despite persecution, many families retained a remnant of their Jewish past. Today, as thousands of Italian Americans, as well as others of Italian ancestry or connection, from all around the world, embark upon genealogical research to learn about their heritage, knowledge of Italian-Jewish heritage can be essential in this process. An overwhelming number of Italians who have emigrated are from the South of Italy and among them an even greater number from Calabria and Sicily.
The Center is a non-profit entity dedicated to advance research and study of the Jewish heritage of Calabria and Sicily. Information shared, linked and otherwise appearing here will also be available in Italian.
We offer connections to links to assist our guests from whom we also welcome comment and information.
Since Calabrian and Sicilian Jewry has survived and is still present, we shall furnish information on related current events occurring in both regions.
Note: The Center is not connected with any synagogue or particular Jewish Community. Likewise we do not endorse commercial or business ventures. Our focus is research and study of Southern Italian Jewry, and the free exchange of same, for anyone interested in our history and past.
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