“As defined by the Fortunati-Ergas case, catechumens and neophytes have a right to their allotted share of the estate of their parents, even while their mother and father are still alive, notwithstanding the privileges accorded the Jews of Livorno by Grand Duke Ferdinando I in 1593.” This claim, written in Florence in 1825, tried to depict the Fortunati-Ergas case as a bridgehead breaking the guarantees offered to the Jews living in Livorno since the end of the 16th century. Papal laws explicitly offered converted Jews the right to immediately inherit from one’s parents, as if they were orphans. On the other side, the so-called Livornine, issued in 1593, opposed this principle and stated that converted Jews could not inherit from their Jewish relatives. In the 18th century, the Fortunati-Ergas case became the battleground among canon laws and civil laws, defending or contrasting the right to inheritance of converted Jews. Sara Ergas was a Jewish woman from Livorno who did not follow the decision of her husband Moisè Ergas, a rich Jewish merchant who converted to Christianity together with their small child, taking the new names of—respectively—Francesco Xaverio Fortunati and Maria Maddalena Fortunati. Sara remained fiercely Jewish, and never satisfied the claims over her goods made by the apostates in Florence (where they had moved after their conversion), engaging in a legal battle that, as shown in this article, proved the Livornine to remain a strong pillar defending the Jewish privileged status in Livorno till the unification of Italy.
issue 22 / n.2 (2022) by Samuela Marconcini
Immediately after the foundation of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, activities, focus groups, bureaucratic structure, and organization of hachsharah training centers had to change considerably. Chances to emigrate became more and more limited. Since the completion of the hachsharah training became a prerequisite for obtaining the emigration certificate, the reorganization of hachsharah training centers became a crucial task for Zionists. Various agricultural training centers, vocational training, and requalification courses were established and organized with unprecedented intensity. For these activities, He-Halutz department of the Palestinian Office was responsible, and organized these places mostly on farms and manors of Czech farmers; this became a part of the economic exploitation of the Jews. The paper will analyze changes in age groups, social status of emigration candidates and trainees, reorganization of training camps from the perspective of the Zionist movement as well as temporal changes of Jewish geography in the former territory of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.
issue 21 / n.1 (2022) by Daniela Bartakova
issue 20 / December 2021 by Francesco Di Palma and Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe
The peculiarity of the Jewish community of the city of Posen (Poznań) has been acknowledged in several studies. This pertains on the one hand to its sheer size, as until the end of the nineteenth century Jews accounted almost constantly for between 15 and 20 percent of the overall population—by far above the average of any other German district; on the other hand, it pertains to its composition, since so-called Ostjuden constituted a considerable share of the minority. These were mainly unassimilated orthodox Polish Jews, a unique feature for any German State and later for the German Reich, which forced the new authorities (Posen was assigned to Prussia in the late eighteenth century) to enforce specific integration measures.
This article shows how, as a consequence, the Jewish inhabitants of the area were drawn into a conflict of nationalisms and had to keep the balance between two conflicting cultures, that of the new ruling power, Germany, which sought to “germanize” them, and the traditional Polish culture. Against this background, and for fear of losing their financial independence as well as their cultural and religious identity, more than 30,000 Jews left the region from 1848 up to the end of the nineteenth century and emigrated to the United States or elsewhere.
issue 20 / December 2021 by Francesco Di Palma
During the French Protectorate in Morocco, the Jewish presence in the country’s economic capital Casablanca was massive, as migrants coming from the coastal cities and the interior regions, or from Algeria and Tunisia, joined the already significant population present in the city’s Mellah when Hubert Lyautey’s administration was put into place in 1912. Once the law made it legal for them to build on the land they owned, Jewish developers embarked on the creation of the highest structures of the city, with bold forms then unknown in France. Among the architects who designed numerous apartment houses and villas, from the most modest to the more sumptuous, were Jews such as the Suraqui brothers. After having contributed in the 1930s to the emergence of local modernism, in the 1950s the Jewish bourgeoise emulated Californian stereotypes in its residences, while innovative social housing cared for the poorest component of the community.
issue 19 / June 2021 by Jean-Louis Cohen
The paper seeks to expand the area of modern Yiddish culture beyond literary fiction. It explores the rise of modern Yiddish theatre, press, poetry, and political literature in Imperial Russia in the 1880s. The essay argues that these forms of Yiddish cultural expression first became significant and widespread phenomena in the 1880s. It also highlights the emergence of a diverse Yiddish readership and audience, with different levels of Jewish and European cultural background, in order to counter the common dichotomy that Yiddish was for the masses, whereas Hebrew and Russian were used by the Jewish elites. Finally, the article places the rise of Modern Yiddish culture within the context of major social and economic transformations in East European Jewry: urbanization, population growth, and downward economic mobility. Overall, the article refines and revises certain conclusions offered in the author’s book The Rise of Modern Yiddish Culture (2005).
issue 17 / September 2020 by David E. Fishman