Ferrara, Moses of Castellazzo Bible donated to MEIS: a rare manuscript

Thanks to a private donation, the Ferrara MEIS acquired a rare manuscript reproduced in very few copies: the Bible of Moses of Castellazzo.

Thanks to a private donation, the MEIS - Museum of Italian Judaism and the Shoah in Ferrara has acquired the so-called Bible of Moses of Castellazzo, a rare manuscript dating from the Renaissance period.

It is an illustrated codex made presumably in Venice in the 1620s. This was found in the basement of the Warsaw Gestapo command at the end of World War II and was stored at the Institute of Jewish History in the Polish capital; in 1980 it was sent to a photographic studio for reproduction, but it never returned to the library and is currently lost or stolen. The reproduction donated to the museum was edited by Kurt and Ursula Schubert and published in very few copies.

The rare manuscript was donated to the Ferrara museum by Ambassador Giulio Prigioni, wishing to contribute to the museum’s own collection and to the preparation of the exhibition being prepared for 2019, entitled The Renaissance Speaks Hebrew. Giulio Prigioni managed to find this manuscript in a small village in Switzerland, thanks to the help ofHebraist Giulio Busi, curator of the aforementioned exhibition.

The Bible of Moses of Castellazzo is a very important document of Jewish artistic culture in early 16th-century Italy, with illustrations that expand the biblical dictation through additions taken from the “midrashim,” or commentaries by Jewish masters on biblical writings.

MEIS director Simonetta Della Seta said, “The donations that are coming to MEIS confirm the recognition of the Museum’s role in Italy, Europe and the world. The exhibition on the Renaissance, around which there is much anticipation, will deal with a golden period of dialogue between Christianity and Judaism in the country. This is a phenomenon on which we wish to place special emphasis, since the MEIS has the mission to make it clear how the long history of the Jews of Italy can serve as a parable, as an example of dialogue between cultures. We are convinced that this ambition is absolutely relevant today.”
“It is no coincidence that the Ministry of Culture is also enhancing the MEIS as a national cultural project that promotes the value of dialogue and coexistence among peoples and ethnic groups in our country and in Europe. The history of our peninsula has its roots in dialogue, thanks also to the relationship with Judaism, and from Ferrara we want to tell the rest of the world about it,” he added.

Ferrara, Moses of Castellazzo Bible donated to MEIS: a rare manuscript
Ferrara, Moses of Castellazzo Bible donated to MEIS: a rare manuscript