Venice’s ancient ghetto floods as new tides rise

Venice's ancient Jewish neighborhood was flooded on Friday morning, as a new high tide peaked at 154 cm, leaving 70% of the iconic Italian city inundated.

Campo di Ghetto Novo, Venice, November 15, 2019. (photo credit: COURTESY OF PAOLO NAVARRO/JEWISH COMMUNITY OF VENICE.)
Campo di Ghetto Novo, Venice, November 15, 2019.
(photo credit: COURTESY OF PAOLO NAVARRO/JEWISH COMMUNITY OF VENICE.)
Venice’s historic Jewish neighborhood was flooded on Friday morning, as a new high tide peaked at 154 cm., leaving 70% of the iconic Italian city inundated.
The new emergency comes two days after Venice suffered from the worst flooding in half a century, with water reaching 187 cm., prompting Mayor Luigi Brugnaro to describe the event as “apocalyptic,” lamenting that “Venice is on its knees.”
The Jewish community and Jewish sites also suffered some damages.
“Luckily, our synagogues are all located on top floors, but a storage facility and the kosher restaurant were affected,” Paolo Navarro, a member of local Jewish community’s board, told The Jerusalem Post in a phone call.
Navarro spoke to the Post only a few minutes after the water started to flood the square where, in 1516, the local authorities chose to establish an area to segregate the city’s Jews. The word “ghetto” probably originated from the ancient Venetian word for foundry, gheto, as one stood nearby.
He said that in this challenging time, the community stands by the city and shares the mayor’s appeal to the Italian authorities for quick help.
On Wednesday, the city’s most popular sites and monuments, including St. Mark’s Square and Cathedral, were ravaged by the water, as thoroughfares were turned into raging torrents, stone balustrades were shattered, boats were tossed ashore and gondolas smashed against their moorings.
The Jewish neighborhood is located on a slightly higher level than most of Venice, so the floods have been somewhat more contained in that area, the secretary-general of the Jewish community Michael Calimani told the Post.
However, he added that significant damage was reported in the city’s Jewish cemeteries. The sites, located in the Lido area, include a cemetery, which was in use between the 15th and 18th centuries, and a more “contemporary” one – which has tombs that date back to the 1700s but is still in use.
The city’s Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters was also flooded, according to Chabad of Venice’s Facebook page.
Only a few hundreds of Jews live in Venice today, but tens of thousands of Jewish tourists visit the city and its centuries-old synagogues every year.
Reuters contributed to this report.


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