Skip to content

Venice: East of the West

03Jun6:00 pm8:00 pmVenice: East of the West6:00 pm - 8:00 pm(GMT+00:00) Italian Cultural Institute, 686 Park Avenue

Event Details

Centuries of Jewish Crossover From Venice to Lecce

The program is co-presented by the Consulate General of Italy, Italian Cultural Institute, and Centro Primo Levi. It is made possible through the generous support of the Regione Veneto and Regione Puglia. The public program of Centro Primo Levi is made possible in part through the generous support of the Cahnman Foundation.

This year, Italian National Day is dedicated to the regions of Veneto and Apulia. In conjunction with the celebrations, Centro Primo Levi, the Consulate General of Italy, and the Italian Cultural Institute have invited three prominent scholars to meet with the public in New York and share news and projects concerning Jewish life in their regions.

Shaul Bassi, Gadi Luzzatto-Voghera, and Fabrizio Lelli will offer geo-cultural insights on the Jewish past of Venice and Lecce, situated at the extreme north and south of the Italian peninsula’s eastern edge. They will also share with us some of the activities in progress, addressing public access, education, public debate, and exchange with Israel.

Professors Luzzatto and Bassi will discuss plans for the Renato Maestro Library and Archive of Venice’s Jewish community, as well as the Venice Center for International Jewish Studies, in relation to the broader Venetian cultural forum. This forum’s offerings range from the Biennial to the Film Festival and has  most recently come to include the “Incroci di Civiltà” literary festival, an offspring of the University Cà Foscari.

Prof. Lelli will illustrate two academic projects that delve into four centuries of linguistic and social history in Salento. He will offer a reading of Apulia’s recent rediscovery of Jewish practice in the context of its multilayered cultural landscape.

Opening remarks: Consul General of Italy Francesco M. TalòAndrea Fiano (Chairman, CPL)

Shaul Bassi (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Incroci di Civiltà Festival, Venice)

Gadi Luzzatto Voghera (Boston University, Padova, Director of the Renato Maestro Library, Venice)

Fabrizio Lelli (Università di Lecce, Semeraro Foundation Israel Exchange Project) 


Shaul Bassi is  professor of English and postcolonial literature at the University of Venice – Ca’ Foscari from which he received his degree in English Language and Literature. He has been co-director of the NEH Summer Institute in Venice “Venice, the Jews, and Italian Culture”;  and scientific advisor and co-organizer of the international literary festival “Incroci di Civiltà”. He is among the founders of the Venice Center for International Jewish Studies. He has taught at Wake Forest University-Venice, Venice International University, and at the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he was Visiting Professor in 2003. Prof. Bassi’s main field of interest is Shakespeare and post-colonial theory and literature. He is the author of La metamorfosi di Otello. Storia di una etnicità immaginaria (Bari 2000) and (with Alberto Toso Fei) Shakespeare in Venice. Exploring the City with Shylock and Othello (Treviso, Elzeviro, 2007). Recent articles in English include  “’Funny, you don’t look hybrid!’: Jewish Memory Revisualized”, in Postcolonial Studies: Changing Perceptions, ed. Oriana Palusci, Trento, Editrice Università degli Studi di Trento, 2006; “Shakespeare Theocon and Neoprog. Political Criticism in the New Machiavellian Moment”, in Paper Bullets of the Brain. Experiments with Shakespeare (eds. Shaul Bassi and Roberta Cimarosti), Cafoscarina, Venezia, 2006; “The Rabbi’s Cat: Arab-Jewish Faultlines in Postcolonial Discourse”, in The Representation and Transformation of Literary Landscapes, eds. Francesco Cattani and Amanda Nadalini, Cafoscarina, Venezia 2006; “Resisting Jews. Allosemitism and the Dialectics of Assimilation”. in Resisting Alterities. Wilson Harris and Other Avatars of Otherness, ed. Marco Fazzini, Rodopi, Amsterdam/New York, NY, 2004.

Gadi Luzzatto Voghera is an adjunct Professor of Italian Contemporary History and Jewish History at the Boston University in Padua and director of the Renato Maestro Library and Archives of the Jewish Community of Venice. He has taught courses at the NEH Summer Institute in Venice, the University of Venice, and the University of Padua. He has extensive experience in preservation having worked at the cataloguing projects of the ancient Jewish tombstones in the cemeteries of the Veneto region. He has worked for the Italian National Archives and the Antonio Gramsci Foundation for the publication of important archival documents and organized seminal conferences for the study of Italian Jewry including “Ramhal, The 300th Anniversary of Moshe Chayym Luzzatto,” Padova, in 2007, “On Pasque di sangue: a confrontation with Ariel Toaff” – CIES Boston University (2008). Prof. Luzzatto Voghera received his degree in History from the University of Venice – Cà Foscari, his doctorate from the University of San Marino, and his post-doctoral specialization from the University of Turin.

He is the author of many studies in his main areas of interest: Jewish historiography in Italy in XIXth and XXth century,  secular Jews in European modern political institutions, teaching the Holocaust and anti-Semitism: problems and opportunities, modern and contemporary European history, history of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, and history of Zionism. Prof. Luzzatto’s most recent publications include Antisemitismo a sinistra, Einaudi, Torino 2007 and Storia della vita religiosa a Venezia. Ricerche e documenti sull’età contemporanea, Morcelliana, Brescia 2008, The Jews of Piedmont (contributor, Yeshiva University Museum, 2008). Forthcoming books include: Jewish historiography in Italy in the 1800s, Toronto University Press, and Cultural and Religious activity in Jewish Italy (XIXth-XXth century)in Roni Weinstein eds., The Jews of Italy (Machon Ben Zvi – Jerusalem) (Hebrew), Jerusalem 2009.

Fabrizio Lelli is a professor of Hebrew Language and Literature at the University of Lecce where is currently conducting a research project on Jewish Liturgy in Medieval Southern Italy. In collaboration with Prof. Mandy Feingers, he has developed a successful exchange program with the Tel Aviv University (read more). Prof. Lelli received his degree in Semitic Philology from the University of Florence and was awarded a Fellowship at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem right after. He holds a doctorate in Medieval Hebrew Philology from the Universities of Turin and Venice.

In 1999 and 2002 he was awarded a fellowship at the Herbert Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2007 he inaugurated the Viterbi Visiting Professorship in Italian Jewish Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles – UCLA.

The teaching of Prof. Lelli focuses on the history of the Hebrew language and the mutual influences of Italian and Hebrew literature. Prof. Lelli’s research centers on the philosophical and mystical literature of Jewish scholars, especially those who worked in late Medieval and Renaissance Italy. In this context, he has investigated the history of the transmission of Hermetic texts in medieval Jewish thought; the contacts between Jewish and Christian 15th century biblical exegetes; the intellectual cooperation between Jewish and Christian Renaissance scholars interested in Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy and Kabbalah. Prof. Lelli has lead an oral and documentary history project collecting and publishing Hebrew memoirs related to the presence of Jewish refugees in the Apulian transit camps after WWII. He is also editing a volume of essays on the Hebrew language and literature of the Jews of Salento (Southern Apulia).

Get Directions

Back To Top