Sunday, September 30, 2012

Synagogue Discovered at Ancient Site of Limyra in Southern Turkey

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Death of Italian scholar Cesare Colafemmina

It is with sadness that I report the death of Cesare Colafemmina, the Italian scholar who pioneered the documentary study of Jews of Southern Italy. In over two hundred publications Colafemmina persuasively made the case for the broad settlement of Jews in Southern Italy, and their extreme significance in the history of the region. Colafemmina brought to light and international attention physical monuments of the Jewish past at Venosa, Trani and elsewhere, and published hundreds of documentary references to Jews in Bari, Taranto, Otrano and other southern Italian locales. Together with scholars Ariel Toaff, Shlomo Simonsohn and others, he strove to reinsert the Jewish presence in Italian medieval history.  I re-post here the report of Colafemmina's death from Jewish Heritage Europe, with links to an Italian obituary and a list of his publications. 

A conference “Gli Ebrei nell'Italia meridionale e nel Mediterraneo dall'Età romana all'Altomedioevo” (The Jews in southern Italy and the Mediterranean from the Roman era to the Early Middle Ages)  will be held on October in Prof. Colafemmina's memory.  See - SDG

Death of Italian scholar Cesare Colafemmina

General view of the Jewish section of the Trani Diocesan museum. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

Prof. Cesare Colafemmina, an Italian scholar who was a pioneering researcher on the historic Jewish presence in southern Italy, has died at the age of 79. Colafemmina died Sept. 12 after a long illness.
Colafemmina taught at the University of Bari and the University of Calabria and wrote and researched extensively on the Jewish presence in Calabria, Apulia and elsewhere in southern Italy, from ancient times until the present. His fields included ancient Jewish history and epigraphy, as well as archeology. He made important discoveries, including burial chambers and inscriptions, at the Jewish (and Christian) catacombs in Venosa, in Potenza province. Much of his work centered on the medieval period and also the aftermath of the expulsion of Jews from the south in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Colafemmina oversaw the installation of a  Jewish museum, a section of the local Diocesan Museum, that opened recently in the “Scola Grande,” one of the two thirteenth century synagogues that remain standing in the town of Trani, in Apulia. He was on the executive committee of the Italian Association for Jewish Studies and was the editor of «Sefer Yuḥasin», a bulletin on Jewish studies in southern Italy, which he founded in 1985.

The Cesare Colafemmina Center for the Research and Documentation of Judaism in the Mediterranean Region was recently founded in his honor. He donated his extensive library and papers to the Center, which is organizing a memorial symposium in October.

A full obituary (in Italian) can be read here, on the Center’s web site.
A Bibliography of Colafemmina’s publications can be found HERE.