Pitigliano’s synagogue is the only synagogue in the entire province of Grosseto. It doesn’t get used much any more, but in earlier centuries, it was the heart of the region’s Jewish community.
Following the Papal Bulls of 1555, the Jewish community fled Rome and the surrounding countryside, seeking haven in Tuscany. Many came to Pitigliano where they were welcomed by the local rulers, who were no friends of the pope. One of the first buildings they established after settling into the community was the Synagogue, which dates back to 1598.
The Synagogue is open to visitors as part of the Jewish Ghetto museum. You start at the large arched portal that leads to an open courtyard. Here is an epigraph that dedicates the construction of the Synagogue to Jeudà, son of Shebbetai.
On the entrance door of the Synagogue are the words:
“And do unto me a sanctuary, and I will dwell in their midst, open unto me the gates of righteousness: this is the gate [that leads] unto the Lord”
Inside, the walls are decorated with stucco. It is clean and minimalistic with numerous commemorative epigraphs written in Hebrew. At the center is La Tevà – the pulpit from which you can read the Torah. Behind that is the Aròn – the holy wooden ark – and at the top, the matroneo.
The furnishings of the Synagogue are very old, most date back to the 16th and 17th centuries.
Nearby is the Jewish museum with various objects from the Synagogue and the other rooms in the Jewish ghetto, as well as clothes, photographs and stories that speak of the Jewish community in Pitigliano.
Sinagoga and Museo Ebraico
Vicolo Marghera, Traversa Via Zuccarelli – 58017 Pitigliano (GR)
Manager: Elena Servi
Contact : 0564614230 – 3281907173 – www.lapiccolagerusalemme.it
From April to October from 10am to 1pm and from 2.30pm to 6pm
From November to March from 10am to 12.30pm and from 3pm to 5pm
Closed: Saturday and Jewish holidays
A Synagogue is the place of worship sacred to the Jewish religion, the name derives from the word ebraicbet knesset, which means house of the assembly. The first Synagogue was probably created between 597 and 537 BC. After the exile of the Jewish people to Babylon, the first assembly was born and counted 120 prophets, scholars and scribes. The assembly of Babylon established the language rules for prayers in Hebrew and Rabbi Jochaban Ben Zakkai set out to create common places of worship for all Jews, with the aim of preserving their religious identity following persecution. The Synagogue represented a real innovation for that historical period, it was in fact the first building that allowed the faithful to attend the rites and the same principle was later adopted in Mosques and in Christian Churches. Synagogues became not only a place of prayer but also of study and teaching. Jewish people were forbidden to live in a city that did not have a synagogue.
Most of Synagogues have three naves and all are built in such a way that the faithful can turn to Jerusalem during prayer. The ark that contains the Holy Scriptures (Torah) is located in the wall facing Jerusalem, opposite is the pulpit, placed on a raised platform, above the ark (Aròn) there is a light that remains lit. It is considered to be an eternal lamp, in memory of the Menorah in the Temple of Jerusalem.