This project was established in 2005 as a collaboration between the Salonica Chair for the History and Culture of the Jews of Greece and the Goldstein-Goren Diaspora Research Center. Its aims are to collect archival and bibliographical materials on various aspects related to the lives of Cretan Jews to encourage research on these topics, and to develop collaboration with scholars in Israel and abroad who are engaged in studying these issues. Most of the original material from nearly five centuries of Venetian rule in Crete, including numerous documents dealing with Jews, is kept in the State Archive of Venice and has not yet been published or even used for historical research. Therefore, the main effort is currently invested in locating and collecting the relevant materials preserved in this vast archive. Some of this material has suffered tremendously from deterioration, therefore this project can also be considered as a rescue operation intended to preserve the memory of this old community that has ceased to exist following the tragic events of World War II.

The project’s activities involve the following main tracks:

  • The development of a documentation center that would concentrate all of the relevant materials on the Jews of Crete during the Venetian era (including bibliographies, books and articles, and especially photocopies/scanning of archival material).

  • The organization of research workshops on the different aspects of the lives of Jews in Crete, and encouragement of graduate students and research students to devote dissertations to these subjects.

  • The promotion of international collaboration between scholars interested in the field.

  • The publication of studies related to the project.

Since the beginning of the project, a great amount of archival material has already been located, photographed, scanned or transcribed in the State Archives in Venice. This extensive work has to be spread over an extended period, being based on periodical visits to the archives by Prof. Arbel. Registers belonging to the very rich Memoriali series, which mainly contains judicial documents, as well as to the immense notarial archive, are being searched systematically to draw documents related to Jews. The harvest is already most impressive, both in its dimensions and in the great interest of the materials that have been discovered.

Several studies pertaining to the Jews of Crete under Venetian rule have been presented in international conferences in Athens, Venice and Rethimno (Crete), and some of them have already been published. A few conferences and seminars dedicated to these subjects have also been organized at Tel Aviv University.

Archival Research

This activity is still far from complete; however, during the 2016–2017 academic year the project’s activity has been focused on analysing the materials that have been discovered, collected and partly transcribed so far (see the following section).

Thematic Research and Publications

In the course of 2016–2017, the main effort has been invested in completing a comprehensive study on Jewish women in the Jewish neighborhood (Giudecca) of Candia between 1430 and 1530. This project is primarily based on 78 wills (47 women and 31 men), which have been discovered in the State Archives of Venice in recent years in the framework of this project. The study examines the world of women in different stages of their lives as reflected in these sources, while comparing this evidence with the picture obtained from other sources, especially those that reflect the positions of the rabbinic and communal establishment. The research is expected to be published this year in a volume in honor of Dr. Francesca Maria Tiepolo, former archive director and the organizer of the Duca di Candia archive, where most of the material is about the Jews of that island. The publication of two exceptional wills of Jewish Cretan women is planned for the current year.

International Collaboration

From October 2015 until October 2016, Dr. Giacomo Corazzol, a postdoctoral student under the supervision of Prof. Arbel, collaborated with this project. His doctoral dissertation focused on the social and cultural aspects of the Jews of Crete in the late Middle Ages and early modern times. During his stay in Israel he was primarily working on the discovery and identification of Hebrew manuscripts (mostly kept on microfilms at the National Library in Jerusalem) written or copied in Candia, attempting at the same time to link them to the social and cultural environment in which they were written. Besides the important discoveries that he was able to make in the course of this research, his presence at Tel Aviv University enabled the clarification of issues of common interest and an exchange of ideas for future collaborations, thus making an important contribution to this research project on the Jews of Crete during the Venetian period.

 

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A new date will be published soon

 

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