PIEDMONT


PIEDMONT
PIEDMONT, region in N. Italy which comprised the duchy of savoy (a kingdom since 1713), the duchy of Montferrat (under Savoy rule since 1709), the marquisate of saluzzo (under Savoy rule since 1598), and the municipalities of asti , chieri , Cuneo, and alessandria . The Jewish communities of Piedmont were formed or expanded following the expulsion of Jews from France in 1306, 1332, and 1394. Loan bankers were among the prominent people who settled in Piedmont. In 1430 Amadeus VIII determined the judicial status of the Jews in the duchy of Savoy, stipulating that in each city they were to live in closed quarters. The Jews were frequently subjected to special taxation: in 1551 the annual toleration tax was 500 gold crowns, increased to 14,000 in 1626, but subsequently reduced. In 1708 the Jews were ordered to file a complete inventory of their property every three years. About the middle of the 16th century there were 3,000–4,000 Jews in Savoy, somewhat less in Montferrat, and about 100 in Saluzzo. For a considerable payment, Emmanuel Philibert granted them the monopoly on moneylending , which continued under his son Charles Emmanuel I. In 1624 there were about 100 Jewish loan-banks in Piedmont. The communities and the loan-bankers were often subjected to demands for exorbitant "gifts." Against a payment of 60,000 ducats a decree was issued in 1603 granting Jews permission to bear defensive weapons when outside the city of turin , in addition to the freedom to practice every profession including banking, commerce, and medicine (subject to the bishop's approval). In 1723–29 new enactments were issued, renewing the statutes of 1430 in a milder form, but extending the area to which they applied as a result of the extension of the state of Savoy. The Jews then formed a General Council of Jews (università generale degli ebrei) of Piedmont with branches in Turin, casale monferrato , and Alessandria. In 1723 the Jews were forbidden to own real estate (the prohibition was slightly relaxed in 1729), and were compelled to live in the ghetto, which had been in existence in Turin since 1679. In Casale, vercelli , Chieri, Carmagnola, and Saluzzo, the outer walls of the ghettos were completed in 1724, while in Cherasco, acqui , and moncalvo , the walls were completed in 1730, 1731, and 1732 respectively. The dwellings in the Piedmont ghettos were generally arranged around a central courtyard (ḥaẓer), and every ghetto had a synagogue. The constitution issued under Charles Emmanuel III in 1770 reenacted the statutes of 1430, 1723, and 1729, and during this period the voices of non-Jews, such as the publicist Giuseppe Compagnoni, were first raised in defense of Jews. In 1798 emancipation was introduced into Piedmont by French revolutionary forces, and in 1807, 13 rabbis from Italy attended the french sanhedrin in Paris. But after a short interval of well-being, Victor Emmanuel I restored almost in toto the 1770 constitution; in 1816 the re-creation of the ghetto was decreed. By then, however, attitudes had changed and men like Vincenzo Gioberti, Roberto and Massimo d'Azeglio , carlo cattaneo , and others pressed for Jewish emancipation. With the promulgation of the Piedmontese Constitution (Statuto) of 1848 by Prince Charles Albert, the Jews obtained full emancipation and began to participate more actively in political and cultural life. The rabbi of Turin, lelio cantoni , started to reorganize   the Jewish communities, and the Jewish publications L'Educatore Israelita (Vercelli, 1853–74), followed by II Vessillo Israelitico (Cuneo, 1874–1922), made their appearance. In the middle of the 19th century a famous controversy arose over Rabbi Samuel Olper's project to introduce changes in Jewish religious practice. In 1840 and 1881 there were about 6,500 Jews in Piedmont; in 1911, 6,000; in 1931, 4,900; and in 1961, 6,618; and by 1970 this number dwindled to 1,820. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: G. Volino, Condizione giuridica degli ebrei in Piemonte prima dell'emancipazione (1904); M.D. Anfossi, Gli Ebrei in Piemonte Loro condizioni giuridico-sociali dal 1430 all'emancipazione (1914); G. Levi, in: RMI, 9 (1934), 511–34; 18 (1952), 412–37, 463–89; B. Terracini, ibid., 15 (1949), 62–77; S. Foa, ibid., 19 (1953), 542–51; 26 (1955), 38ff.; 27 (1961), passim; 28 (1962), 92ff. (Alfredo Mordechai Rabello)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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