The Venetian Ghetto Nuovo, widely considered the first Jewish ghetto in Europe, is home to five synagogues built between the early sixteenth century and mid-seventeenth century. The sanctuaries—each representing different ethnic groups that settled and flourished in the ghetto—were constructed on the top floors of existing buildings and have remained mostly intact for centuries.
The historic synagogues are a vital cultural resource in a city of great significance. The Schola Tedesca (German Synagogue), the oldest synagogue in the Ghetto, was built for the Ashkenazi community in 1529. The Schola Tedesca is today part of the Museo Ebraico, as is the Schola Canton; both synagogues receive thousands of visitors each year. The Schola Italiana, located on the Ghetto square, is also a part of the museum. Just outside the main square, the Spanish and Levantine Synagogues are used by the local Jewish community throughout the year.
Support for window restoration in three synagogues
In 2016, World Monuments Fund collaborated with local partners on a project to restore the historic windows in the Schola Canton, Schola Tedesca, and Schola Spagnola. The windows at these three synagogues reveal varying stages of deterioration, including cracking, missing panes, oxidation of decorative and structural metal elements, and damaged finishes. Loose frames and the resultant swelling and separation due to water filtration endanger the conservation of the interior architecture, finishes, and furniture of the centuries-old synagogues.
An expert team repaired the windows, their frames, and the leaded glass. This work helped improve the appearance of the synagogues and protect the structures more fully from water damage, a key element to advancing the action plan for the full restoration of the synagogues that was developed by the Communità Ebraica Venezia and the Museo Ebraico. WMF's window restoration project was completed in 2017.
This project was made possible thanks to the David Berg Foundation and WMF's Jewish Heritage Program supporters.