web analytics
April 26, 2015 / 7 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Home » Sections » Travel »

Rome And Venice: Ideal Destinations For The Orthodox Traveler

The Great Synagogue of Rome

The Great Synagogue of Rome

There was a time when an Orthodox Jewish traveler, offered a choice of visiting London, Paris or Rome, likely would have put Rome last on the list. Today, that would be a big mistake. Rome is a marvelous place to visit, especially for a religious Jew interested in the historical roots of the post-Second Temple Diaspora.

Rome, a city with 20,000 Jews, can be divided into three sections. The first is the city of Rome itself. Of particular interest are the dozens of piazzas (plazas), which are generally surrounded by world famous and historically significant museums, monuments, statues, buildings and pagan temples (from before the Christian era).

There is also a poignant Jewish memorial, recently established by the mayor of Rome, commemorating several public burnings of the Talmud and other Jewish books on the orders of various papal officials. Tourists can take that all in on a three- or four-hour walk in the heart of the city. The Coliseum and the Arch of Titus are located a bit farther away and require an additional fifteen minutes of walking.

Then there’s the historic Jewish ghetto, now a flourishing, gentrified center of Jewish life, featuring a two chalav Yisrael restaurants, (Da’ Ghetto Milky and Yotvata), nine kosher (but not glatt) meat restaurants, six kosher pizza shops, a kosher bakery, and a grocery store.

There is also the magnificent Great Synagogue of Rome (Tempio Maggiore), a strictly Orthodox Sephardic shul (actually minhag Italki, which predates Christianity; its liturgical style was copied by the church). It seats 1,200 men and women with a proper mechitzah and features minyanim three times a day attended by hundreds of worshipers. The shul is adjacent to the newly renovated and beautiful Jewish Museum, where you’ll find many Jewish artifacts indigenous to Rome.

There is also a Jewish day school with classes from kindergarten through high school, with a student body of more than 1,500 Jewish children. You can easily spend your whole morning admiring this 450-year-old Jewish ghetto with its vibrant Jewish life.

The third and perhaps most riveting – and certainly, in my opinion, most meaningful – venue is the Vatican Museum’s Jewish Interest tour, conducted by Roy Doliner, founder of the Rome for Jews website and author, with Benjamin Blech, of The Sistine Secrets: Michelangelo’s Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican.

On this tour you’ll see the actual real-life facemasks and statues of such figures as the emperor Hadrian (Hadrayanus), who ruled ruthlessly over Judea after the destruction of the Second Temple and mercilessly suppressed the Bar Kochba revolt. You’ll also find Titus, whose father, Vespasian, laid siege to Jerusalem but returned to Rome when R’ Yochanan ben Zakai told him the emperor Nero had died and that he, Vespasian, was now the emperor. (Titus took his father’s place and destroyed the second Beis HaMikdash; according to the Talmud he exiled ninety thousand Jews to Rome after the Temple’s destruction.)

Featured as well are the facemask and statue of Antoninus, who succeeded Hadrian as emperor and allowed the Jews who remained in Judea to live in relative peace. His friendship with Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi is recalled in detail in the Talmud (Avodah Zarah 10a-11a; Berachos 57b).

We also discovered a lapidary room containing Jewish tombstones predating Christianity by several hundreds of years. The stones were inscribed with Jewish names that are still proudly carried by families who live in Rome.

If your hotel is not located close to the ghetto, there is a shul with a daily minyan headed by Rabbi Chazzan, a Lubavitcher shaliach, located at 33 Balbo Street, a twenty-minute walk from the Via Veneto the main street with its many four- and five-star hotels.

Jewish Press readers can easily enjoy the city without having to worry about minyanim, Shabbos observance, and strictly kosher dining.

Given all the above, what is an Orthodox tourist to do before actually heading to Rome? I recommend contacting contact David Walden at the Rome for Jews website (jewishrometours.com).

On To Venice

Venice is basically comprised of two parts. The main area is where most of the important general-interest tourist sites are found, including the Doge Palace and the Piazza St. Marco. From there you can walk to the Jewish ghetto, established in 1515 and comprising five shuls, the famous Rialto Bridge (remember The Merchant of Venice?) and most of the other tourist areas that make Venice famous.

About the Author: Daniel Retter, Esq., is the author of the sefer “HaMafteach” (Koren Publishers), an indexed reference guide to Talmud Bavli and the Mishnayos, in Hebrew and English. A frequent contributor of feature articles to The Jewish Press, he practices immigration, real estate, and business law in New York City. He can be contacted at dretter@retterlaw.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Rome And Venice: Ideal Destinations For The Orthodox Traveler”

  1. Tally R. Eb says:

    wow. you really missed a lot in Venice…in Venice there is also albeit much smaller, a vibrant community. Shul operates on Shabbat, Sunday and Monday and Thursday. we too have a Kindergarten, a talmud torah – we are currently running a day camp for small children on the theme of Veahavta Lereacha Kamocha. we have an old aged home and a kosher guesthouse, an operating mikve. (very important if you are orthodox and travelling) There is a Jewish museum and 5 precious shuls, some of the oldest in Europe not destroyed by the Nazis. a library and an archive..have I missed anything? treb@zehud.com

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Children are asleep at last as adults in the Chabad House continue to deal with the crisis in Nepal.
Chabad Co-Emissary in Nepal Hopes for ‘Only Good News’ in Video
Latest Sections Stories
Food-Talk---Eller-logo

“People who never buy cookbooks are getting this one,” said Victoria. “They read it cover to cover and find it so interesting.”

South-Florida-logo

We have recently witnessed how other minorities deal with even perceived danger aimed at their brothers and sisters. They respond in great numbers.

South-Florida-logo

The Hebrew Academy students took part in all categories and used successful and innovative techniques to achieve their goals.

“The objective behind establishing small communities as places for relocation was a remedy for the excessive cost of housing and education in the large New York metropolitan market,” Mr. Savitsky explained.

Jewish Democrats did not entirely trust the son of Joseph Kennedy, a man broadly considered to be both anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi.

The teenage years are not about surviving. They are about thriving.

Every moment was a gift. I held each one, savoring.

We arrived in Auschwitz on Thursday, January 30, 2014. My seminary was taking us to see where the prisoners were kept. When we got there, I stepped off the bus in complete and total silence. I was in the back, and when we got to the gate I hesitated and started shaking uncontrollably. I couldn’t […]

From the moment Israel was declared a Jewish state, it has been the subject of controversy and struggle.

Now that Pesach is over, we return you to your regularly-scheduled pressing questions:   Dear Mordechai, Can I use a nose hair trimmer during Sefirah? Harry Lipman   Dear Harry, Yes, as long as your nose hairs are so bad that they’re affecting your job. Like if you have a desk job, and they interfere […]

It is very natural for kids to want attention and to be jealous of each other, especially when there is a new baby.

During the Second World War, a million and a half Jewish soldiers fought in the Allied armies, the Partisan units in Eastern Europe, and the anti-fascist underground movements in Western Europe and North Africa. These Jewish fighters won over 200,000 medals and citations. The Museum of the Jewish Soldier in World War II in Latrun, […]

The 2-day real estate event will take place in Brooklyn on April 26 and 27.

More Articles from Daniel Retter
Rabbi Aaron Kotler

Those seeking accounting, finance, business, healthcare, technology, etc., will often enter a specialized graduate degree “track” created by Lakewood’s Professional Career Services, in conjunction with local institutions of higher education, for our alumni.

Thane Rosenbaum

During the Nazi period, as bad as the Germans were, no German politician ever declared openly a desire to exterminate the Jews.

I felt guilty asking her to talk about her husband. There was no need for the guilt.

Almost immediately the audience began singing and clapping and continued almost without stop throughout the rest of the concert.

The climate is near perfect. From November through May the weather is dry and warm. June through October is referred to as the rainy season, though the weather is still comfortable and the occasional showers barely interfere with touring, sporting activities or sunbathing.

Twenty-seven-year-old IDF Lieutenant (res.) Aharon Karov completed the New York City Marathon earlier this month, less than five years after an explosion in Gaza left him near death.

There’s an eerie silence and tears can be seen running down the faces of young parents and elderly grandparents and siblings of all ages.

There was a time when an Orthodox Jewish traveler, offered a choice of visiting London, Paris or Rome, likely would have put Rome last on the list. Today, that would be a big mistake. Rome is a marvelous place to visit, especially for a religious Jew interested in the historical roots of the post-Second Temple Diaspora.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/travel/rome-and-venice-ideal-destinations-for-the-orthodox-traveler/2013/06/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: