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THE VENICE GHETTO & BEYOND Exhibition on View This Fall/Winter at Center for Jewish History

The Center for Jewish History will mark the 500th anniversary of the creation of the Venice ghetto in 1516 with a new exhibition that reveals the complex history of Jewish life in the Mediterranean world following the confinement of Venetian Jews to a walled-off section of their city.

This unique assemblage of Italian materials - some of which date from the 16th century - opens a window onto intellectual and artistic achievement, Jewish practice and thought, enduring economic and cultural ties to the Christian and Islamic communities, and the ways in which the Venice ghetto served as a point of connection for Jewish communities in Europe and the Ottoman Empire.

Prominent objects in the exhibition include the Meshal ha-kadmoni, courtesy of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, written in 1281 by a Castilian Hebrew poet, scholar and Cabalist, as a response to the popular Arabian Nights. To increase its popularity, the book was embellished with fascinating miniature woodcuts, making it one of the first illustrated Hebrew book ever printed. Other prominent objects include a Bomberg Bible from 1547 from the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research collections, a 19th Century Italian Torah shield from the Yeshiva University Museum and "Della influenza del ghetto nello Stato" from 1782 from the collections of the Center for Jewish History.

The "Venice Ghetto & Beyond" exhibition features materials from the collections of the Center for Jewish History and two of its partners, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and Yeshiva University Museum, as well as other institutions and private collectors. The exhibition is presented by the Center for Jewish History and the Medici Archive Project.

The "Venice Ghetto & Beyond" exhibition hours: Sunday, 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; Monday and Wednesday, 9:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; and Friday, 9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. For more information, visit

Academic Conference

September 18 - 19, 2016

10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Exhibition Opening Event: Gallery Talk

September 18, 4:30

The Ghetto and Beyond: The Jews in the Age of the Medici

Presented by Center for Jewish History and the Medici Archive Project

The Center for Jewish History and the Medici Archive Project mark the 500th anniversary of the creation of the Venice ghetto with this exhibition and an accompanying two-day conference. The conference will shed light on the revolution in scholars' understanding of Italian Jewish ghettos of the early modern period. The term "ghetto" has traveled widely and taken on a range of associations since originally describing the 1516 confinement of Jews to a walled-off section of Venice. What do we know about the Jewish ghettos of early modern Italy? What is their relationship to subsequent uses of the term to describe areas such as Nazi holding pens or inner-city neighborhoods in the U.S.?

Day one of the conference is open to the public. Tickets: $15 general, $10 CJH/partner members, seniors, students. Students, scholars, and teachers interested in attending day two may email

Join us at the close of day one of the conference for a free gallery talk and reception to celebrate the opening of The Venice Ghetto and & Beyond. The gallery talk is open not only to conference attendees but also to members of the public who wish to view the exhibition.

For more information, visit or call 212-868-4444.

The Center for Jewish History in New York City illuminates history, culture, and heritage. The Center provides a collaborative home for five partner organizations: American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum, and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.

The partners' archives comprise the world's largest and most comprehensive archive of the modern Jewish experience outside of Israel. The collections span a thousand years, with more than 5 miles of archival documents (in dozens of languages and alphabet systems), more than 500,000 volumes, as well as thousands of artworks, textiles, ritual objects, recordings, films, and photographs.

The Center's experts are leaders in unlocking archival material for a wide audience through the latest practices in digitization, library science, and public education. As one of the world's foremost research institutions, the Center offers fellowships, a wide array of exhibitions, symposia, conferences and lectures. The Center is a Smithsonian Affiliate, and is a partner of the Google Cultural Institute.

The Center for Jewish History is home to the Lillian Goldman Reading Room, Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute, The David Berg Rare Book Room and The Collection Management & Conservation Wing. Public programs create opportunities for diverse audiences to explore the rich historical and cultural material that lives within the Center's walls.

Since its foundation in the early 1990s, the Medici Archive Project (MAP) has been innovating new strategies for research in the Humanities. During the Early Stages of its existence, MAP's mission was to merge archival research with technological innovations for data management. A pioneering group of scholars began to catalog in a rudimentary electronic database the letters of one of the most exhaustive and complete courtly archives of early modern Europe: the Medici Granducal Archival Collection (Mediceo del Principato). This archival collection ? comprising over four-million letters distributed in 6,429 volumes and occupying a mile of shelf space ? covers a chronological span of two hundred years, from 1537 to 1743. It documents the political, diplomatic, gastronomic, economic, artistic, scientific, military and medical culture of early modern Tuscany and Europe.

MAP is a research institution with the mission of actively generating scholarly discourse. At the center of this operation is MAP's online platform, BIA, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Fully online since 2013, BIA provides access to an unparalleled range of digitized early modern archival historical documents for use by researchers and the public. As of 2015, this material comprises over 25,000 transcribed documentary records, 18,000 biographical entries, 87,000 geographical and topographical tags, and over 300,000 digitized images from the Mediceo del Principato. Aside from providing a faster and more user-friendly interface for document entry, BIA has enabled scholars from all over the world, not only to view digitized images of archival documents, but also to enter transcriptions, provide scholarly feedback, and exchange comments in designated forums, all within BIA's academic community of over 3200 international scholars, students, and enthusiasts who daily engage with one another, with the ever-increasing number of uploaded digitized documents, and with the staff and fellows of the Medici Archive Project.

MAP has also entered into other arenas of academic activity. In 2014, MAP launched a publication series with the academic publisher Brepols/Harvey Miller; three titles are due out in Fall 2016. In the last three years, MAP has also organized international conferences in Florence and Venice, covering a range of subjects pertinent to the collections of the Medici Archive, such as women artists, public health, and the history of the Medici family. These events have hosted over sixty papers, often bridging the gap between American and European scholarship, and fostered new collaborations between MAP and research universities, other initiatives in the digital humanities, and individual scholars. The fruit of these efforts has been the recognition of MAP as one of the leading institutions in the broad field of early modern studies.

Pictured: Torah Shield, Italy, 19th century. Courtesy of Yeshiva University Museum and Center for Jewish History.

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