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History of the Jews in Rome

For more than two thousand years Jews have lived in Rome, making it the oldest Jewish community in Europe. Traces of Jewish heritage are embedded throughout the city ranging from the ruins of Roman-era synagogues to ancient catacombs, to the grandiose turn-of-the-century Great Synagogue on the banks of the Tiber.

In 1555 the Pope issued a decree forcing all Jews to live in the Ghetto and excluding them from most jobs. When Italy was unified in 1870, the Ghetto was liberated.

During WWII, the Nazis deported 2091 Jews from Rome to the concentration camps. Of these, only 101 returned.

In 1951 Rabbi Eliahu Toaff z”l, became the Chief Rabbi of Rome, He served in the position until 2001, when Rabbi Riccardo Shmuel Di Segni succeeded him.

In 1967, the Jews in Tripoli, Libia had to flee their country and many emigrated to Rome, influencing the local Jewish Community.

Chabad arrives in Rome

In 1798 the Chabad-Lubavitch movement was born. In 1951 Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, became the last Lubavitcher Rebbe, transforming Chabad in the most influential movement in modern Judaism. His teachings fill over 300 volumes and he established Chabad’s presence in over 80 countries with 8000 representatives.

At the request of Rabbi Toaff, in 1963, the Lubavitcher Rebbe sent Rabbi and Mrs. Eliahu Ouazanna, a ritual slaughterer and teacher, to Rome, where he served the Jewish Community for over 50 years, influencing many hundreds.

In 1976 the Lubavitcher Rebbe sent Rabbi and Mrs. Itzchak Hazan to establish an official presence of Chabad in Rome. In 2000’s Rabbi Shalom and Mrs. Hazan and Rabbi Ronnie and Mrs. Canarutto established their Chabad Houses in Rome under the auspices of Rabbi I. Hazan.

Chabad Piazza Bologna

Chabad Piazza Bologna in Rome was established by Rabbi Menachem and Rivkie Lazar in December 2008, Chanukah 5769, under the auspices of Rabbi Itzchak Hazan, and is a financially independent 501c3 not-for-profit organization.

In 2016 Chabad opened a store-front to act as an office and for the smaller activities. In 2018 Chabad moved to the present large and beautiful facility.

24/7 Chabad is there to assist the Jews of Rome, the students, and visitors. We offer social, cultural and religious activities for all ages. All this is funded thanks to your support!

Rabbi Menachem and Rivkie Lazar

Menachem grew up in Milan, graduated 8th grade and went on to learn in Yeshivot (Talmudic Schools) in France, Israel and U.S.A. He directed the Chabad-affiliated Camp Gan Israel in Tuscany for many years and was a frequent visitor to cities all over Italy.

Rabbi Lazar set up and maintains an extensive network of websites in Italian and English. Chabad in Italy, a website with information for Jewish travelers, and others.

In 2006 he obtained the Rabbinic Degree from Central Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim Lubavitch.

In 2015 he obtained the Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration in Non-Profit Management from Touro University Worldwide.

Rivkie grew-up in Pittsburgh graduated from Yeshiva Girls High School, went on to learn at Seminary Machon Shoshana in Yerushalayim and in Long Island. While studying in Long Island she taught at the Hebrew School of Chabad of Valley Stream and was a Program Director at Chabad of Wayne, NJ.

Chabad Piazza Bologna, Rome