Rome Global Gateway collaborates on restoration of the Biblia Hebraica

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On May 23, 2023, the Instituto Cervantes in Rome hosted the presentation of the Biblia Hebraica, a Renaissance Bible edited by the Spanish humanist Benito Arias Montano, canon and historiographer of King Philip II, and owned by the Historical Archive of the Jewish Community of Rome (ASCER) “Giancarlo Spizzichino.” The volume, printed in Antwerp in 1571 by Christophe Plantin, contains the text of the Tanach (the Hebrew biblical canon from the Book of Genesis to that of the prophet Malachi) in an interlinear translation from Hebrew into Latin by the Italian Dominican Sante Pagnini, and it was recently restored with the contribution of the University of Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway and Center for Italian Studies, as part of a collaboration between Notre Dame and the Historical Archive of the Jewish Community of Rome. 

The event was organized and moderated by Gabriella Yael Franzone, coordinator of the Department of the Cultural Heritage and Activities of the Jewish Community of Rome and hosted by Ignacio Peyró Jiménez, director of the Instituto Cervantes in Rome.

The volume escaped the systematic plundering of the rare books of the Historical Archive and of the Library of the Rabbinical College in September 1943 during the Nazi occupation of Rome. Its cultural significance was introduced and illustrated by four distinguished speakers: the president of the Jewish community of Rome, Ruth Dureghello, the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, Ingrid Rowland, professor of history and art history at the University of Notre Dame and Tracy Bergstrom, former program director of specialized services and collections and curator of the Italian Studies and Dante Collection at the Hesburgh Library at Notre Dame.


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The Jewish community of Rome is the most ancient community of Jews outside of Jerusalem and it has been present in the city since ancient Rome. The Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway has partnered with the Historical Archive of the Jewish Community of Rome since 2017. Collaborations have included a class entirely dedicated to the history of the Jewish Community of Rome which has become part of the foundational undergraduate course "All Roads Lead to Rome," featuring a visit to the Jewish Museum of Rome, the Great Synagogue, the Spanish Synagogue and the Historical Archive guided by Dr. Haia Antonucci, chief archivist, and Gabriella Yael Franzone. In addition, the Rome Global Gateway, together with the Center for Italian Studies, has co-sponsored the Jewish Community of Rome in a variety of public events on themes connected to the history and the preservation of the heritage of the Jewish Community of Rome, within the initiative “Encountering Jewish Rome.” 


Chiara Sbordoni who teaches Italian studies at the Rome Global Gateway and coordinates collaborations with the Jewish Community, explains: “the ties between Notre Dame and the Jewish Community of Rome include the fact that the ND Villa located in Via Celimontana, 23, hosted during the persecutions of the Jews under the Italian Fascist regime, a Middle and High school where more than 400 Jewish students continued their education when expelled from public schools”.

“As part of a Catholic university with a strong vocation to promote interfaith dialogue,” Sbordoni continues, “the Notre Dame Gateway in Rome is delighted to have had the opportunity to contribute to the restoration of the Biblia Hebraica, an important part of the heritage of the Jewish Community of Rome, as a meaningful expression of our respect for the Jewish Community whose religious practice is founded on the study of the Tanach.”

Learn more about initiatives in Rome.

Originally published by Costanza Montanari at on June 20, 2023.