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4-Chap 4

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THE FIRST GHETTO
The Jews in Italy and Germany were subjected to degrading laws, and the boundaries of their lives became narrowed and limited. The church, for thousands of years, used its power to preach contempt of the Jews and to have little to do with them. The expulsion from Spain spread the idea that the Jews were social lepers and were not fit to live in Christian society. Martin Luther, the founder of the Protestant Movement, advised the extermination of the Jews. In addition to religious opposition, the Christian merchants also wanted to rid themselves of Jewish competition. However, the Christian kings who ruled some of the important cities needed the income, which Jews poured into their treasuries.The rulers compromised by building ghettos for their Jewish subjects. One of the first ghettos was established in 1516 by the Senate in Venice.

. . . all Jews who at present are found residing in the various streets of this our city, as well as those who might come from elsewhere, shall, until it will be differently decided in accordance with the exigencies of the time, be obligated to proceed to dwell together in the kind of houses located in the ghetto next to the Church of St. Jerome.

The Jews of Venice: Cecil Roth

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

1. Why did the Christian merchants want to rid themselves of the Jews?
2. Why did the rulers wish to hold on to the Jews?
3. What was the purpose of making Jews into object lessons?
4. What was the limpieza de sangre?
5. Pope Paul IV decreed that the Jews had to wear yellow stars. What other country forced Jews to wear yellow stars?
6. Why were Jews forced to practice pawnbroking?
7. How has this profession been a disaster for the Jews?
8. Can you think of other instances of making individuals or groups into object lessons?

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