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Pope John Paul II and his Protection of the Jews

Rome’s Jewish community still harbours considerable respect for Pope John Paul II. No pontiff before him had done more to bridge the divide between the Catholic Church and the Jews, which had split Rome’s population for centuries. Nor had any Pope before him extended the Church’s olive branch of friendship by stepping into Rome’s Great […]

Rabi Yehudah and the emperor Antoninus: the Great Switcheroo

Rabi Yehudah ha-Nasi (Judah ‘the Prince’) was a fascinating figure. While remembered chiefly for his role in editing and redacting the Mishah, he also helped broker peace between the Jews of occupied Judea and their Roman overlords in the aftermath of the Bar Kokhba Revolt. According to the Talmud, Yehudah was highly respected among the […]

The Vatican’s Hebrew Manuscripts

vatican-torah-1509986853-Aviya-Kushner - https://forward.com/culture/386978/how-to-see-the-vaticans-hebrew-manuscripts-without-leaving-home/

The nature of the Jewish Diaspora determines that Hebrew manuscripts are dispersed widely throughout the world. Fortunately, the Vatican – a magnet of global treasures – has accumulated  a sizeable collection. For centuries, this collection was hidden, available only to a select group of archivists and scholars granted exclusive access to the Vatican’s vaults. For […]

Visiting Rome with a Jewish tour guide

St. Peters Basilica Jewish Vatican tour

Rome’s Jewish history stretches back much further than people think, predating even the time of Julius Caesar over 2,000 years ago. My family, of Orthodox Sephardic origin, have been here for  just over a quarter of that time: the last 500 years. Not so long in the grand scheme of Rome’s history, but certainly long […]

The Vatican’s Jewish Treasures

Could the Vatican's Secret Vautls house the Vatican's Jewish Treasures?

When the Romans breached Jerusalem’s walls in 70 AD, they set upon a spree of slaughter and pillaging, the barbarity of which truly chills the blood.  Josephus records the death toll at 1.1 million – a number compounded by the many visitors who had come to celebrate Passover. Jerusalem’s houses were burned, its walls were […]

The Gold of Rome: an Incredible Story from the Nazi Occupation

Photo of the Ghetto's liquidation during the Nazi occupation

The Allied bombing of Rome on July 19 marked a crucial turning point in Italy’s involvement in the Second World War. With the razing of the capital, popular support waned among the Italian people. Benito Mussolini, his reputation in tatters, was arrested and replaced as leader by king Victor Emmanuel III. The new Italian government […]

The best kosher restaurants in Rome

bestk kosher restaurants in rome

No Roman holiday would be complete without indulging in the city’s renowned cuisine. And central to the capital’s culinary culture is its innovative creation: ‘la cucina ebraica-romana.’ Literally translating as ‘Jewish-Roman Cuisine’, its dishes bring out the best in Jewish and Middle Eastern flavours and Italian passion for fresh produce and simplicity. But because Jewish-Roman […]

Ancient Rome and Judea: Nero and the Jews

Nero at the height of his power

Like his uncle Caligula, the emperor Nero has earned an unsavoury reputation in the annals of history, yet an interesting and overlooked aspect of his reign is the relationship between Nero and the Jews. Today’s post looks at this relationship in detail, considering where his favourable treatment of the Jews might have come from and […]

Ancient Rome and Judea: Caligula and the Temple of Jerusalem

Painting by Alex Levin. Web: www.artlevin.com

Cover image “The Second Holy Temple in Jerusalem” by Alex Levin. Web: www.artlevin.com In the previous post we looked at Caligula’s reception of Philo’s Jewish Embassy in Rome. The meeting, documented by a Jewish grammarian, is invaluable as it provides one of the few non-Roman perspectives on the emperor Caligula, elsewhere portrayed as mad, bad, […]

Ancient Rome and Judea: Caligula’s Jewish Embassy

Bust of the emperor Caligula

Of all Rome’s emperors, Caligula stands among the most infamous. His reputation for being mad, bad, and dangerous-to-know has endured for nearly 2,000 since his brutal assassination, orchestrated by his disaffected Praetorian Prefect who had had enough of the emperor’s insults. The charges of cruelty and debauchery laid at Caligula’s feet are many. apparently held […]