Italy / Lombardy


Brescia’s castle. Photo by Wolfgang Moroder – Wikipedia

The Jewish presence in the city of Brescia seems to be quite old. Throughout the 15th century, they were alternately welcomed and expelled according to political and religious directives.

Among the personalities of this century, we can note the presence of Gershom Soncino, printer of religious works, among which the Meshal Hakadmoni by Isaac ibn Sahula, the first illustrated Hebrew book.

The early 16th century was no more reassuring, as the Jews were once again the victims of attacks and expulsions.

Palazzo della Loggia, Brescia. Photo by Wolfgang Moroder – Wikipedia

Nevertheless, when the city came under Venetian rule, they were allowed to return in 1519. Rabbi Joseph Castelfranco founded the famous yeshiva of Brescia. In 1572, the Jews were expelled again and their return was only formalised in the 19th century. A synagogue was then built.

On 9 September 2016 the 80th anniversary of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra was celebrated at the Teatro Grande di Brescia. The inaugural concert was conducted by the great Arturo Toscanini in December 1936. Toscanini had answered the call of its creation (even before the State’s independence) and played in a warehouse specially built for the occasion in Tel Aviv. In 2016, under the direction of Maestro Michele Bui, the same programme was presented to the public with pieces by Rossini, Brahms, Shubert, Bartholdy and Von Weber.