Serenissima = the city of Venice
Veneto = region northeast of Venice
Mestre = closest mainland city to Venice
Podestà = magistrate
Ratisbona = Regensburg, Germany
Salamoncino, Simonino, Simoncino = diminutives of Solomon, Simon.
Avogaria di Comun = similar to district prosecutor’s office
We have semi-Italianized the names of certain German Jews living in Italy. Ex.: Samuele da Nuremberg. This is to distinguish them from Germans living in Germany, ex.: Andrea of Rinn.
ON THE TRANSLATION :
Prof. Toaff writes with a very large vocabulary, using many words from the Veneziano and Venetano dialects.
His sources include not only the modern derivative literature in English, French, Italian, French and German, but the original documentation in Hebrew, Yiddish, Latin and medieval Italian, sometimes a thousand years old.
He does not translate or italicize the medieval Latin or Italian in his footnotes. These are sometimes in a mixture of languages as well.
In most cases, the material contained in the footnotes is simply paraphrased in the text. Where we have attempted to translate this material, it appears in [in square brackets]. All translators’ notes are in [square brackets].
Ex.: “Chi cerca dove non deve, trovarà qualcosa che non gli piace.” [“He who looks where he shouldn’t, will find something he will not like”]. [Sicilian proverb].
We will continue to translate the Latin in the footnotes and will issue periodic updates and revisions, all bearing the latest revision date.
Our aim is to produce an absolutely perfect complete translation, including the Latin where it is of any interest.
The present translation retains the original footnote numeration, but places the footnotes at the end of each chapter, instead of lumping them together at the end of the book. To our knowledge, no legal action has been taken against people posting this material on the Internet. In rare cases, letters have been received demanding that the text be removed. That’s all. If you’re worried, just check and see whether the on-line Italian texts are still there.
ON THE TEXT:
Prof. Toaff has since partially recanted, and now maintains that:
- yes, Jews are a corrupting and disruptive element in society;
- yes, Jews lend money at 40% and seem to do little else;
- yes, Jews buy and sell justice with huge bribes;
- yes, Jews pull off all sorts of fraudulent bankruptcies and swindles;
- yes, Jews resort to poisoning and assassination when thwarted;
- yes, Jews are obsessed with hatred for Christians and the Christian religion;
- yes, Jews kidnapped and castrated Christian boys on a large scale and sold them into slavery in Islamic Spain for centuries;
- yes, Jews used [and still use?] human blood in all sorts of quack remedies, despite the Biblical prohibition, even for minor complaints;
- yes, Jews [and still use?] Christian human blood in their matzoh balls at Passover;
- yes, Jews [and still use?] Christian human blood in their wine at Passover;
- yes, the blood had to be from Christian boys no more than 7 years of age;
- yes, the blood had [has?] to be certified kosher by a rabbi;
- yes, there was [is?] a large and profitable trade in fake blood products and animal blood, which was [are?] unsuitable to the purpose;
- yes, Christians tried to sell the blood of Christian boys to Jews, but were rejected because the Jews feared it was animal blood; but no, no Christian boys were ever killed to obtain the blood. Never, never! Or hardly ever. It all came from “voluntary donors”!
Anybody having read the book will simply laugh.
The only “saving clause” is that these charges are made against Ashkenazi Jews only. It would be interesting to see how much filthy “Sephardic linen’ the Ashkenazi could air in public if they so chose.
ON THE TITLE
It makes little practical difference, but we feel that the title “Blood Passover” is preferable to “Bloody Passover”, for several reasons.
The title is, after all, “Pasque di Sangue”, not “Pasque Sanguinose”.
A “recipiente di sangue” would be a “blood receptacle”, something intrinsically intended to receive and hold blood, a recipient inextricably bound up with blood by its very nature, by design, as its essence (like those tubes they use when you have a blood test). There is a clear identification between the two nouns, A=B.
A “recipiente sanguinoso”, a “bloody receptacle”, would be simply a recipient, of any nature whatever, which had merely become soiled or smeared with blood for some reason, the blood being something fortuitous, accidental, and foreign to its essential nature (for example, if someone hit you in the mouth with an ashtray); wash the blood off, and it is no longer a “bloody receptacle”.
We believe that it was Prof. Toaff’s intention to coin a phrase, like “blood money”. It is obvious that “blood money” implies far more than simply “bloody money”: it is something specific, something very distinct; a very narrow meaning.
ON THE LATIN
It is obvious that this is not correct classical Latin, nor is it standard medieval Latin, as written by someone trained in literature.
This is the ugly jargon of Venetian notaries, cram-packed with Italian and Venetian words and “saids”, “afore-mentioneds”, “above-mentioneds”, “afore-saids”, and all the rest of it.
In Venetian, ordinary words which appear to be the same as Italian often have radically different meanings. We believe that this may be reflected in some of the Latin given here. This would account for some of the astonishing “translation errors” into Latin.
It is obvious that medieval Latin had evolved to such an extant as to become for all practical purposes an entirely different language in certain regions and among certain classes of people, almost like Venetian itself.
We have done our best with this material, but to do it justice would require a level of erudition on a level with Prof. Toaff’s own. If you show it to your Latin teacher he will simply tell you that it is not correct and will either fail to understand it easily or will mistranslate it very badly, unless he has the full context.
Prof. Toaff is that great rarity in the modern world: a sincere and disinterested lover of truth. It is obvious that he loves all this detail for its own sake, although at times it is hard to tell where he is headed with some of it.
It is to Prof. Toaff himself that the present humble and inadequate, but entirely disinterested effort, is sincerely dedicated. Indeed, we look forward to reading some of Prof. Toaff’s other books.
We feel that “Blood Passover” is a masterpiece of literature and a masterpiece of history, which deserves to be widely read, not flushed down the Memory Hole in some sort of International ADL Police State.
---Translated by Gian Marco Lucchese and Pietro Gianetti, 2007
ARIEL TOAFF BLOOD PASSOVER EUROPEAN JEWS AND RITUAL MURDER
This book courageously faces one of the most controversial topics in the history of the Jews of Europe, one which has always served as a war-horse of anti-Semitism: the accusation, leveled against the Jews for centuries, of abducting and killing Christian children to use their blood in Jewish Passover rites. Where Italy is concerned, nearly all the ritual murder trials were held in the north-eastern regions, characterized by large settlements of German-origin Jews (Ashkenazim). The most famous case of this kind occurred in Trent, Italy, in 1475, as a result of which many local Jews were indicted and sentenced to death for the murder of the boy who was to become known as “Simon of Trent”, and was venerated as a Saint for several centuries, until only a few decades ago. An unprejudiced rereading of the original trial records, however, together with the records of several other trials, viewed within the overall European context and supplemented by an exact knowledge of the relevant Hebrew texts, throws new light on the ritual and therapeutic significance of blood in Jewish culture, leading the author of the present study to the reluctant conclusion that, particularly where Ashkenazi Jewry was concerned, the "Blood Libel" accusation was not always an invention.
Professor of Medieval and Renaissance History at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, Toaff has written Wine and Bread: A Jewish Community in the Middle Ages (1989; translated into English and French), Jewish Monsters: The Imaginary Jew from the Middle Ages to the Early Modern Age (1996) and Eating Jewish Style. Jewish Cooking in Italy from the Renaissance to the Modern Age (2000).
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. AT VENICE WITH HOLY ROMAN EMPEROR FRIEDRICH III (1469) 17
II. SALAMONCINO DA PIOVE DI SACCO, PREDATORY FINANCIER 35
III. ASHER, THE BEARDED JEW (1475) 45
IV. PORTOBUFFOLÈ, VOLPEDO, ARENA PO, MAROSTICA, RINN 61
V. FROM ENDINGEN TO REGENSBORN: RITUAL HOMICIDES OR
GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES? 75
VI. MAGICAL AND THERAPEUTIC USES OF BLOOD 93
VII. CRUCIFIXION AND RITUAL CANNIBALISM: FROM NORWICH TO FULDA 111
VIII. DISTANT PRECEDENTS AND THE SAGA OF PURIM 125
IX. SACRIFICE AND CIRCUMCISION: THE MEANING OF PESACH 137
X. BLOOD, LEPROSY AND INFANTICIDE IN THE HAGGADAH 153
XI. DINNER AND INVECTIVE: THE SEDER AND THE CURSES 163
XII. THE MEMORIAL OF THE PASSION 173
XIII. TO DIE AND KILL FOR THE LOVE OF GOD 189
XIV. "DOING THE FIG": RITUAL AND OBSCENE GESTURES 197
XV. ISREAL’S FINAL DEFIANCE 209
DOCUMENTARY APPENDIX 307
INDEX OF NAMES 349
INDEX OF PLACES 363
Ritual homicide trials are a difficult knot to unravel. Most researchers simply set out in search of more or less convincing confirmation of previously developed theories of which the researcher himself appears firmly convinced. The significance of any information failing to fit the preconceived picture is often minimized, and sometimes passed over entirely in silence. Oddly, in this type of research, that which is to be proven is simply taken for granted to begin with. There is a clear perception that any other attitude would involve hazards and repercussions which are to be avoided at all costs.
There is no doubt that the uniformity of the defendant’s confessions, contradicted only by variants and incongruities generally relating to details of secondary importance, was assumed by the judges and so-called "public opinion" to constitute “proof” that the Jews, characterized by their great mobility and widespread dispersion, practiced horrible, murderous rituals in hatred of the Christian religion. The stereotype of ritual murder, like that of profanation of the Host and cannibal sacrifice, was present in their minds from the outset, suggesting to both judges and inquisitors alike the possibility of extorting symmetrical, harmonious and significant confessions, triggering a chain reaction of denunciations, veritable and proper manhunts and indiscriminate massacres.
While attempts have been made, in certain cases, to reconstruct the ideological mechanisms and underlying theological and mythological beliefs, with their theological and mythological justifications, which rendered the persecution of the Jews possible as the practitioners of outrageous and blood-thirsty rituals, particularly in the German-speaking countries of Europe, little or nothing has been done to investigate the beliefs of
the men and women accused ---or who accused themselves ---of ritual crucifixion, desecration of the host, haematophagy [eating of blood products] and cannibalism.
On the other hand ---if an exception be made for the first sensational case of ritual crucifixion, which occurred in Norwich, England, in 1146, or the equally well-known “blood libel” case at Trent, Italy, in 1475 ---the trial records and transcripts (usually referred to under the generic term “historical documentation”) constitute, in actual fact, very poor and often purely circumstantial evidence, highly condensed in form and very sparse in detail, totally insufficient for research purposes. Perhaps for this very same reason, that which is missing is often artificially added, assumed or formulated as a hypothesis, in the absence of any explicit probative evidence one way or another (i.e., in the desired direction); in the meantime, the entire matter is immersed in a tinted bath, from which the emerging image is superficial at best, enveloped in a cloud of mystery, with all the related paraphernalia from a distant past, and must remain forever incomprehensible to researchers intent on examining these problems through the application of anachronistic interpretive categories. These efforts ---obviously unreliable ---are generally performed in good faith. Or, more exactly, almost always in good faith.
Thus, in Anglo-Saxon (British and American) historical-anthropological research on Jews and ritual murder (from Joshua Trachtenberg to Ronnie Po-Chia Hsia), magic and witchcraft traditionally feature among the favorite aspects under examination. This approach, for a variety of reasons, is enjoying an extraordinary rebirth at the present time (1). But that which seems to obtain a high degree of popularity at the moment is not necessarily convincing to meticulous scholars, not content with superficial and impressionistic responses.
Nearly all the studies on Jews and the so-called “blood libel” accusation to date have concentrated almost exclusively on persecutions and persecutors; on the ideologies and presumed motives of those same persecutors: their hatred of Jews; their political and/or religious cynicism; their xenophobic and racist rancor; their contempt for minorities. Little or no attention has been paid to the attitudes of the persecuted Jews themselves and their underlying patterns of ideological behavior – even when they confessed themselves guilty of the specific accusations brought against them. Even less attention has been paid to the behavioral patterns and attitudes of these same Jews; nor have these matters been considered worthy even of interest, attention or serious investigation. On the contrary: these behavioral patterns and attitudes have simply been incontrovertibly dismissed as non-existent ---as invented out of whole cloth by the sick minds of anti-Semites and fanatical, obtusely dogmatic Christians.
Nevertheless, although difficult to digest, these actions, once their authenticity is demonstrated or even supposed as possible,
should be the object of serious study by reputable scholars. The condemnation, or, alternatively, the aberrant justification of these rituals cannot be imposed upon researchers as the sole, and banal, options. Scholars must be permitted the possibility of attempting serious research on the actual, or presumed, religious, theological and historical motivations of the Jewish protagonists themselves. Blind excuses are just as worthless as blindly dogmatic condemnation: neither can demonstrate anything other than that which already existed in the mind of the observer to begin with. It is precisely the possibility of evading any clear, precise and unambiguous definition of the reality of ritual child murders rooted in religious faith which has facilitated the intentional or involuntary blindness of Christian and Jewish scholars alike, both pro- and anti-Jewish.
Any additional example of the two-dimensional “flattening” of Jewish history, viewed exclusively as the history of religious or political “anti-Semitism” at all times, must necessarily be regretted. When “one-way” questions presuppose “one-way” answers; when the stereotype of “anti-Semitism” hovers menacingly over any objective approach to the difficult problem of historical research in relation to Jews, any research ends up by losing a large part of its value.
All such research is thus transformed, by the very nature of things, into a “guided tour” conducted against a fictitious and unreal background, in a “virtual reality show” intended to produce the desired reaction, which has naturally been decided upon in advance (2).
As stressed above, it is simply not permissible to ignore the mental attitudes of the Jews who were tried, tortured and executed for ritual murder, or persecuted on the same charge. At some point, we must ask ourselves whether the “confessions” of the defendants constitute exact records of actual events, or merely the reflection of beliefs forming part of a symbolic, mythical and magical context which must be reconstructed to be understood. In other words: do these “confessions” reflect merely the beliefs of Gentile judges, clergy and populace, with their private phobias and obsessions, or, on the contrary, of the defendants themselves? Untangling the knot is not an easy or pleasant task; but perhaps it is not entirely impossible.
In the first place, therefore, we must investigate the mental attitudes of the Jews themselves, in the tragic drama of ritual sacrifice, together with the accompanying religious beliefs and superstitious and magical elements. Due attention must be paid to the admissions which made historical and local context, identifiable within a succession of German-speaking territories on both sides of the Alps, throughout the long period from the First Crusade to the twilight of the Middle Ages. In substance, we should investigate the possible presence of
Jewish beliefs relating to ritual child murders, linked to the feast of Passover, while attempting to reconstitute the significance of any such beliefs. The trial records, particularly the minutely detailed reports relating to the death of Little Simon of Trent, cannot be dismissed on the assumption that all such records represent simply the specific deformation of beliefs held by the judges, who are alleged to have collected detailed but manipulated confessions by means of force and violence to ensure that all such confessions conformed to the anti-Jewish theories already in circulation at the time.
A careful reading of the trial records, in both form and substance, recall too many features of the conceptual realities, rituals, liturgical practices and mental attitudes typical of, and exclusive to, one distinct, particular Jewish world – features which can in no way be attributed to suggestion on the part of judges or prelates – to be ignored. Only a frank analysis of these elements can make any valid, new and original contribution to the reconstruction of beliefs relating to child sacrifice held by the alleged Jewish perpetrators themselves ---whether real or imagined – in addition to attitudes based on the unshakeable faith in their redemption and ultimate vengeance against the Gentiles, emerging from blood and suffering, which can only be understood in this context.
In this Jewish-Germanic world, in continual movement, profound currents of popular magic had, over time, distorted the basic framework of Jewish religious law, changing its forms and meanings. It is in these "mutations" in the Jewish tradition – which are, so to speak, authoritative – that the theological justifications of the commemoration [in mockery of the Passion of Christ] is to be sought, which, in addition to its celebration in the liturgical rite, was also intended to revive, in action, vengeance against a hated enemy continually reincarnated throughout the long history of Israel (the Pharaoh, Amalek, Edom, Haman, Jesus). Paradoxically, in this process, which is complex and anything but uniform, elements typical of Christian culture may be observed to rebound ---sometimes inverted, unconsciously but constantly ---within Jewish beliefs, mutating in turn, and assuming new forms and meanings. These beliefs, in the end, became symbolically abnormal, distorted by a Judaism profoundly permeated by the underlying elements and characteristic features of an adversarial and detested religion, unintentionally imposed by the same implacable Christian persecutor.
We must therefore decide whether or not the alleged “confessions” relating to the crucifixion of children the evening before Passover; the testimonies relating to the utilization of Christian blood in the celebration of the feast of the Passover, represent, in actual fact, mere myths, i.e., beliefs and ideologies dating far back
in time; or actual ritual practices, i.e., events which actually occurred, in reality, and were actually celebrated, in prescribed and consolidated forms, with their more or less fixed baggage of formulae and anathemas, accompanying the magical practices and superstitions which formed an integral part of the mentality of the Jews themselves.
In any case, I repeat, we should avoid the easy short-cut of considering these trials and testimonies only as projections ---extorted from the accused by torture and other coercive methods, both psychological and physical ---of the stereotypes, superstitions, fears and beliefs of the judges and populace. Such a method would trigger a process inevitably leading to the dismissal of these same testimonies as “valueless documents with little basis in reality”, except as “indications of the obsessions of a Christian society” which saw, in the Jew, merely a “distorted mirror image” of its own defects. This task appears to have seemed absolutely prohibitive to many scholars, even famous ones, well-educated men of good will, having concerned themselves with this difficult topic.
First, Gavin Lanmuir, who, starting from the facts of Norwich, England, considers the crucifixion and ritual haemotophagia, which appear in two different phases of history, as simply the cultivated and interested inventions of ecclesiastical groups, denying the Jews any role at all except a merely passive one, devoid of responsibility (3).
Lanmuir was later followed by Willehad Paul Eckert, Diego Qualiglioni, Wolfgang Treue and Ronnie Po-Chia Hsia, who, although examining the phenomenon of ritual child murder from different points of view, intelligently and competently, starting with the late Middle Ages, paying particular attention to the Trent trial documentation, considered it all tout court and often a priori a baseless libel, an expression of hostility on the part of the Christian majority against the Jewish minority (4).
According to the point of view adopted by these researchers, the inquisitor’s interrogation methods and tortures served no purpose other than to orchestrate a completely harmonious confession of guilt, i.e., of adherence to a truth already existing in the minds of the inquisitors. The use of leading questions and a variety of stratagems, including, in particular, refined torture, were intended to force the defendants to admit that the victim had indeed been kidnapped and tortured according to Jewish ritual, and finally killed in hatred of the Christian faith. The confessions are said to be obviously unbelievable, since the murders were allegedly committed to permit the ritual use of Christian blood, in violation of the Biblical prohibition against the ingestion
of blood, a prohibition scrupulously observed by all Jews. As to torture, it is best to recall that its use in the municipalities of northern Italy, at least from the beginning of the 13th century, was regulated, not only by tractate, but by statute as well. As an instrument for determining the truth, torture was permitted in the presence of serious and well-justified clues in cases in which it was considered truly necessary by the podestà [magistrate] and judges. All confessions extorted in this manner, to be considered valid, had to be corroborated by the inquisitor, later, under normal conditions, i.e., in the absence of physical pain or even the threat of renewed torture (5). These procedures, while unacceptable in our eyes today, were therefore in fact normal, and seem to have been observed in the case of the Trent trials.
Israel Yuval, following in the footsteps of Cecil Roth’s stimulating pioneering study (6), is more critical and seems more open-minded. Yuval stresses the link between the “blood libel” accusation and the phenomenon of the mass suicides and child murders during the German Jewish communities during the First Crusade. The picture which emerges is one of Ashkenazi Jewry’s hostile and virulent reaction against surrounding Christian society, a reaction finding expression, not only in liturgical invective, but above all, in the conviction that the Jews themselves were capable of compelling God to wreak bloody revenge against their Christian persecutors, thus bringing redemption closer (7). More recently, Yuval very relevantly demonstrated that the Ashkenazi responses to ritual murder accusations were surprisingly weak.
These responses, whenever they were recorded, contained not the slightest rejection of the probative evidence; rather, they consisted of a mere tu quoque of the accusation against Christians: "Nor are you, yourselves, exempt from guilt of ritual cannibalism" (8). As Yuval wrote, David Malkiel had already noted the manner in which phenomenal prominence was given to the scene, described in a secondary Midrash even in the illustrations of the Passover Haggadah of the German Jewish communities, to the scene, of the Pharaoh taking a health-giving bath in the blood of cruelly massacred Jewish children (9). The message, which cast not the slightest doubt upon the magical, therapeutic effectiveness of children’s blood, seemed intended to turn the accusation around. “It is not we Jews, or, if you wish, not just we Jews, who have committed such actions; the enemies of Israel in history have been guilty of these things as well, in which case it was Jewish children who were the innocent victims”.
Any showing that these murders, celebrated in the Passover ritual, represented, not just myths, i.e., more or less consistently widespread, consistent religious beliefs,
but, rather, actual rites, pertaining to organized groups and forms of worship which were actually practiced, requires a respect for due methodological prudence. The existence of this phenomenon, once it is unequivocally proven, must be viewed within its historical, religious and social context, not to mention the geographical environment in which it is presumably said to have found expression, with all the related and peculiar characteristics which cannot be replicated elsewhere. In other words, we must attempt to search for the heterogenous elements and particular historical-religious experiences which are alleged to have made the killing of Christian children for ritualistic purposes appear plausible, during a certain period, within a certain geographical area (i.e., the German-speaking regions of trans-Alpine and Cisalpine Italy and Germany, or wherever there were strong ethnic elements of German Jewish origin, any time between the Middle Ages and the early modern era), as the expression of collective adjustment of Jewish groups and a presumed desire on the part of God in this sense, or as the irrational instrument of pressure to reinforce that desire [on the part of God], as well as in the mass suicides and child murders "for the love of God", during the First Crusade.
In this research, we should not be surprised to find customs and traditions linked to experiences which did not exist elsewhere: experiences which were to prove more deeply rooted than the standards of religious law itself, although diametrically opposed in practice, accompanied by all the appropriate and necessary formal and textual justifications. Action and reaction: instinctive, visceral, virulent, in which children, innocent and unaware, became the victims of God’s love and vengeance. The blood of children, bathing the altars of a God considered to be in need of guidance, sometimes, of impatient compulsion, impelling Him to protect and to punish.
At the same time, we must keep in mind that, in the German-speaking Jewish communities, the phenomenon, where it took root, was generally limited to groups in which popular tradition, which had, over time, distorted, evaded or replaced the ritual standards of Jewish halakhah , in addition to deeply-rooted customs saturated with magical and alchemical elements, all combined to form a deadly cocktail when mixed with violent and aggressive religious fundamentalism. There can be no doubt, it seems to me, that, that, once the tradition became widespread, the stereotypical image of Jewish ritual child murder continued inevitably to take its own course, out of pure momentum. Thus, the Jews were accused of every child murder, much more often wrongly than rightly, especially if discovered in the springtime. In this sense, Cardinal Lorenzo Ganganelli, later Pope Clement XIV,
was correct in his famous report, in both his justifications and his “distinctions” (10).
The records of the ritual murder trials should be examined with great care and with all due caution. In connection with the witchcraft trials, Carlo Ginzburg pointed out that the defendants (or victims), in a “show trial” of this type,
“…ended up by losing all sense of their own cultural identity, as a result of the acceptance, in whole or in part, by violence or apparently out of spontaneous free choice, of the hostile stereotype imposed by their persecutors [i.e., a sort of Medieval “Stockholm Effect”]. Anyone who fails to conform by simply repeating the results of these findings of historical violence must seek to work upon the rare cases in which the documentation is not just formally set forth in question and answer form; in which, therefore, one may find fragments relatively immune from distortions of the culture which the persecution was intent upon blotting out" (11).
The Trent trials are a priceless document of this very kind. The trial records ---especially, the cracks and rifts in the overall structure permitting the researcher to distinguish and differentiate, in substance, not just in form, between the information provided by the accused and the stereotypes imposed by the inquisitors ---are dazzlingly clear. This fact cannot be glossed over or distorted by means of preliminary categorizations of an ideological or polemical nature, intended to invalidate those very distinctions. In many cases, everything the defendants said was incomprehensible to the judges – often, because their speech was full of Hebraic ritual and liturgical formulae pronounced with a heavy German accent, unique to the German Jewish community, which not even Italian Jews could understand (12); in other cases, because their speech referred to mental concepts of an ideological nature totally alien to everything Christian. It is obvious that neither the formulae nor the language can be dismissed as merely the astute fabrications and artificial suggestions of the judges in these trials. Dismissing them as worthless, as invented out of whole cloth, as the spontaneous fantasies of defendants terrorized by torture and projected to satisfy the demands of their inquisitors, cannot be imposed as the compulsory starting point, the prerequisite, for valid research, least of all for the present paper. Any conclusion, of any nature whatsoever, must be duly demonstrated after a strict evaluation and verification of all the underlying evidence sine ira et studio, using all available sources capable of confirming or invalidating that evidence in a persuasive and cogent manner.
The present paper could not have been written without the advice, criticism, meetings and discussions with Dani Nissim, a long-time friend, who, in addition to his great experience as a bibliographer and bibliophile, made available to me his profound knowledge of the history of the Jewish community of the Veneto region, and of Padua in particular. The conclusions of this work are nevertheless mine alone, and I have no doubt that that the above named persons would very largely disagree with them. I have engaged in lengthy discussions of the chapters on the Jews of Venice with Reiny Mueller, over the course of which I was given highly useful suggestions and priceless advice. Thanks are also due to the following persons for their assistance in the retrieval of the archival and literary documentation; for their encouragement and criticism, to Diego Quaglioni; Gian Maria Varanini; Rachele Scuro; Miriam Davide; Elliot Horowitz; Judith Dishon; Boris Kotlerman and Ita
Grateful thanks are also due to those of my students who participated actively in my seminars on the topic, held at the Department of Jewish History at Bar-Ilan University (2001-2002 and 2005-2006), during which I presented the provisional results of my research. First and foremost, however, I wish to thank Ugo Berti, who persuaded me to undertake this difficult task, giving me the courage to overcome the many foreseeable obstacles which stood in the way.