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Mine is the Golden Tongue

30Oct6:30 pm8:00 pmMine is the Golden TongueThe Hebrew Sonnets of Immanuel of Rome 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm(GMT-04:00) 455 Fifth AvenueItalian Jewish Studies SeminarItalian Jewish Studies Seminar

Event Details

The poetic voice of Immanuel of Rome, a Jewish contemporary of Dante, reappears after 700 years in a staged reading of his sonnets by acclaimed actor Ronald Guttman with literary scholar Fabrizio Lelli. The occasion is the publication of Immanuel’s Hebrew Sonnets translated into English by Yehudah Cohn, (CPL Editions, 2023). The program is free and open to the public. Make your reservation.

On the occasion of the publication of the volume  Mine is the Golden Tongue. The Hebrew Sonnets of Immanuel of Rome. Translated by Yehudah Cohn, CPL Editions, 2023. Presented in partnership with Centro Primo Levi New York, the Jewish Museum of Rome and Casa Italiano Zerilli-Marimo NYU.

A poet, biblical commentator, and satirist, Immanuel ben Shelomò or Manoello Giudeo, was a contemporary of Dante, who, recounting his ultramundane flight through Hell and Paradise in Hebrew, tied his name forever to that of the Florentine poet. In his most renowned book Machbarot (tales), written in Hebrew, he combines Biblical poetry, the Arabic genre of the maqāma with the sonnet that —from Giacomo da Lentini and Dante and later Shakespeare— became one of the most beloved poetic forms in Western culture.

He lived in Rome during the turbulent period following the communal experience, during which the popes were mostly absent. His mark on the Roman siddur suggests he was an active member of the local Jewish community, one that left no other trace but an extraordinary abundance of Hebrew manuscripts, translations, commentaries, philosophical and literary works.

Immanuel’s writings and life have fascinated scholars for over six centuries, making him one of the most studied Hebrew writers in history; yet, in the world of mass culture, he has remained practically unknown. His most published and studied book, the Machbarot, a collection of satirical tales written in Hebrew foreshadowing Boccaccio’s Decameron, has never been translated as a whole. Scholars’ widely diverging readings of his work have cast mystery on his persona and the world surrounding him. Centro Primo Levi’s publication makes all of Immanuel’s Hebrew sonnets available in English for the first time.


Ronald Guttman is a theatre, film, and television actor, originally from Brussels, and active in both America and Europe. Some of his most recent work include Godfather of Harlem with Forest Whitaker (MGM+), Sister of the Groom with Alicia Silverstone (Hulu) and Hunters starring Al Pacino (Amazon Prime Video). Other credits include: Theatre: Peter Morgan’s Patriots (Noël Coward Theatre, 2023; Almeida Theatre, 2022); New York – The Fall (Huron Club); Picasso at the Lapin Agile; The Philanthropist (Long Wharf Theatre); The Fifth Column; The Lonely Way (The Mint); Rough For Theater I (Drama League); Race (Classic Stage Company); No Exit; The Free Zone (UBURep); Funky Crazy Boogaloo Boy (Naked Angels); Modigliani (Jewish Repertory Theatre); Coastal Disturbances (Second Stage/Circle in the Square); Oedipus (Performing Garage); Liliom (Off Broadway); Escurial (Actors Studio); Master and Margarita (Summer Stage Bard); Bauer (San Francisco Playhouse); Elephant Man (Théâtre de la Potinière, Paris); Le Sablier (Théâtre Antoine, Paris); numerous productions at the National Theatre (Brussels) and La Compagnie du Rideau de Bruxelles. Film: V13; All You Need is Blood; The Duel; Isle of Love; Entre Deux Trains; Sister of the Groom; On the Basis of Sex; Black Magic for White Boys; Wanderland; Mr & Mrs Adelman; Welcome to New York; Nina; Pawn; Imogene; 13; Tickling Leo; 27 Dresses; Avalon; Green Card; The Hunt for Red October; August Rush; Danton. Television: Documentary Now; Godfather of Harlem; Hunters; Black Earth Rising; Baskets; Mozart in the Jungle; Blacklist; Madam Secretary; And The Band Played on; Bull; Preacher; Elementary; The Good Wife; Rendez-Vous; Mad Men; Mildred Pierce; Homeland; Lipstick Jungle; Lost; The West Wing; Sex and the City; Star Trek: Voyager; Murder, She Wrote.

Fabrizio Lelli is professor of Hebrew at the “Sapienza” University in Rome. His research mainly focuses on the philosophical and mystical literature of late Medieval and Early Modern Italian Jewish authors. Over the past twenty years, while teaching Hebrew at the University of Salento (Lecce, Italy), he has studied extensively the Hebrew manuscript production of late medieval Apulian Jews. Among his publications, of special interest are the editions of Yohanan Ale- manno’s Hay ha`olamim (Florence 1995), Eliyyah Hayyim of Genazzano’s Iggeret hamudot (Florence – Nîmes 2002); the miscellaneous volumes Gli ebrei nel Salento (IX-XVI secolo) (Galatina 2013), and Giovanni Pico e la cabbalà (Florence 2014).

After a business career trading commodities, Yehudah Cohn completed a doctorate in Hebrew and Jewish Studies at the University of Oxford. Cohn is the author of Tangled Up in Text: Tefillin and the Ancient World and co-author of aHandbook of Jewish Literature from Late Antiquity. He was one of the translators of the new Oxford Annotated Mishnah and has also translated work by the Israeli Nobel laureate SY Agnon. Originally from London, he now divides his time between Jaffa and New York.

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