Art, culture, and balsamic vinegar: Modena is an Italian powerhouse that also claims a rich historic Jewish connection.
The Jews founded their community in Modena 1300s, mostly as bankers, and for several hundred years thereafter they were protected by the ruling families of the city. Under this peace Jews flocked to the city from other communities in the region. They were confined to a ghetto, but the Jews of Modena attracted scholars from around the world and it grew into a center of Kabbalistic study in the 17th-18th centuries.
The French occupation of Northern Italy had the strange side effect of uniting the Jewish and non-Jewish populations in Modena. Jewish financing helped support the Italian independence movement, and in the newly united Kingdom of Italy Jews were granted equal rights. The community began to decline in the 20th century, and after the holocaust there were fewer than 200 Jews left in the city.
Today, there are many sites of Jewish interest in Modena. There’s the Italian Synagogue, an example of Lombardesqe architecture built in 1873. There’s the site of the old Sephardic Synagogue, where today you can find a Matzo Factory, and walk the streets of the Former Ghetto. There’s so much lost history to explore in Modena, let our Milk & Honey guides help you find the Jewish link to the past in this classic city.