Synagogue of Casale Monferrato
|Synagogue of Casale Monferrato|
Interior of the Synagogue of Casale Monferrato
|Location||Casale Monferrato, Italy|
The Synagogue of Casale Monferrato, which was built in 1595, is particularly known for its exquisite Baroque interior with walls and ceiling embellished with elaborate painting, carving and gilding. It is located in Vicolo Salmone Olper, an alleyway in the traditionally Jewish quarter of Casale Monferrato, which in the eighteenth century became the city’s ghetto. The plain building houses a clandestine synagogue, giving no indication of its purpose as a Jewish house of worship.
As in most early modern European synagogues, the synagogue was entered not directly from the street, but via a courtyard: both for reasons of security and to comply with laws requiring that the sound of Jewish worship not be audible by Christians.
Casale Monferrato is one of the few synagogues that survive in Piedmont, which once had many. Others in, or close to, Monferrato and the Langhe include the Biella Synagogue, the Vercelli Synagogue, and those of Asti, Alessandria, Chieri, Carmagnola, Cherasco, Moncalvo and Trino Vercellese.
The synagogue is listed as a National Monument of Italy.
The Jewish Art and History Museum, also known as the Museum of the Silvers (‘Museo degli Argenti’), was designed by Giulio Bourbon and is located in part in the former women’s gallery of the synagogue. On display are precious silver ceremonial objects and embroidered textiles, as well artefacts related to Jewish festivals and domestic life.
The Museum of Lights (‘Museo dei Lumi’) occupies an underground room formerly used for baking Matzot and houses a growing collection of Menorahs created by contemporary Jewish and non-Jewish artists including Elio Carmi, Emanuele Luzzati, Aldo Mondino, Marco Porta, Tobia Ravà, Antonio Recalcati and David Gerstein.
The archives include historical documents relating to the story of Jewish life in Casale and Monferrato, a collection of wedding contracts (ketubot) written on parchment and often richly decorated with drawings and symbols, the community registers, and a range of books printed between 1600 and 1900.
- Carol Herselle Krinsky, Synagogues of Europe, Dover, 1996, pp. 345–348.
- Rivka & Ben-Zion Dorfman, Synagogues without Jews, Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 2000, pp. 22-29, 305-306.
- OYOYOY Festival internazionale di cultua ebraica: 'Un percorso culturale tra le sinagoghe in Piemonte'.
- Samuel Kurinsky , The Jews of Casale Montferrato: The History of a Vital Community Rediscovered, Fact Papers on the Technological and Artistic Contributions of the Jews to the Evolution of Civilization, 24 (Hebrew History Federation).
- ‘The Jewish Art and History Museum: Collections’, Casale Monferrato Jewish Museal Complex
- The Museum of Lights: Introduction, Casale Monferrato Jewish Museal Complex.
- ‘The Museum of Lights: Conversations with five artists’, Casale Monferrato Jewish Museal Complex.
- ‘David Gerstein, giunto da Tel-Aviv, accende la Hanukka di Casale’, Il Monferrato, 29 November 2010.
- ‘The Archive’ Casale Monferrato Jewish Museal Complex.
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