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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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Argenti's Synagogue

Argenti's Synagogue

44, Vicolo Salomone Olper, - Casale Monferrato (Alessandria) ITALY

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The Argenti’s Synagogue is located at no. 44 of the alley Salomone Olper, in the heart of the ancient ghetto. It is possible to visit the Synagogue with the attached museums (the Museum of Enlightenment and the Museum of Ancient Jewish Art and History) from Monday to Friday on request and on Sundays from 10 to 12 and from 15-17. Closed during the months of January and August and on Jewish holidays. The Synagogue was built in 1595 undergoing, over the centuries, extensions and renovations; today it presents itself in its splendor baroque rococo piedmontese (1700-1800) enhanced by a careful restoration. Externally it does not present any artistic interest: up to the Albertine Statute it was in fact forbidden to the Jews to build façade decorations for the Temple; but as soon as the visitor crosses the threshold, he can only be enchanted by the wealth of gold, stuccos, inscriptions in Hebrew to witness the centuries of life of the Casale community. The gallery houses the Argenti’s Museum, one of the most interesting museums of art and Jewish history in Europe: numerous silver, fabrics and objects of worship allow visitors to grasp the spirit and integration of Jewish culture. It is flanked by the Lumi’s Museum, with chandeliers of contemporary art. Two bas-reliefs depict the cities of Jerusalem and Hebron and the Aron Hakodesh, the large wardrobe that holds the scrolls of the Law since 1787 and numerous works of modern sacred art. The synagogue belongs to the Jewish Community of Casale Monferrato.
The historical relevance of the site is high as it bears witness to the long settlement of a Jewish community in the territory of Monferrato and its influence on the local society. The first traces date back to the end of the fifteenth century, after the great expulsion of the Jews from Spain. Between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries the Monferrato was upset by continuous wars that also involved the Jewish population: although it enjoyed the right to live in the city, it was forced to pay large sums of money, used to finance military expeditions. Within the city, Jews were subject to many limitations. They pledged and organized trade. Their activity reached its peak in 1643 when some Jewish families of Casale won the cereal supply for the French army. In 1708 the Monferrato was annexed to the dominions of the Savoy and the condition of the Jews worsened immediately: the entire Jewish population was transferred to the ghetto, built in a neighborhood where many Jews were already living. Equality, brought by the French Revolution and the Napoleonic occupation (1799-1814), interrupted by the Restoration, was partly recovered only in 1848 when Charles Albert of Savoy conferred civil rights to the Jews of his kingdom. At that time the Casale Jews were around 850. From the end of the 19th century the Jewish communities of the region began to shrink due to the phenomenon of urbanization towards the new industrial cities (in particular Turin and Milan) and then were devastated by deportation to the Nazi concentration camps. Nowadays some Jews remain in Casale and Moncalvo, while the communities of Acqui, Trino and Nizza Monferrato have completely disappeared.
For several decades the Jewish community of Casale Monferrato has promoted dialogue between the different religious communities through the participation in the Jewish "Festival of light" in the Hanukkah festival, celebrated near the winter solstice (the date varies a bit because the Hebrew calendar is based on the lunar months). During the festival the Chanukkioth, the 8-arm candlesticks (plus one the shammash which serves to light all the others), symbol of this festival, are lit in the Courtyard of the Bees by representatives of the main religious confessions: Catholic Christians, Waldensians, Adventists, representatives of the Islamic and Buddhist world. Also in the context of interreligious dialogue, in 2006 it hosted SalamAleikum, International Exhibition of Islamic Art, curated by the Ibn Sina European Study Center. Fourteen Italian and foreign artists have exhibited their works: painters, sculptors, experts in the ancient art of calligraphy and ceramics, committed to visually telling their land and their faith.
The Casale community is one of the 21 Jewish communities gathered in the UCII, the national religious association representing the Jewish confession towards the Italian state. From a religious and cultural point of view, the community - very small - is very lively and serves as a reference for Jewish families in other places. The synagogue and museums are annually visited by many people, Jewish and not, from all over the world. Every year an articulated program of activities is developed that develops popular artistic projects aimed at deepening the knowledge of the great masters of Italian Judaism, to spread the study of Torah, Mishnah and Talmud and to disseminate the artistic and musical heritage of Monferrato Jewry. .
Direct visit: with local guides.
Virtual visit: presentation of the religious site through the video-tour
Classroom activity (pre and post the visit):
Artistic itinerary through some in-depth documents (preserved in the Museum of Enlightenment) on the Synagogue and on the Chanukkiot, the nine-arm ritual candlesticks.
Liturgical itinerary with detailed information on sacred furnishings.
Activity of verification of the acquired knowledge and skills.



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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.