The Jews in Sicily, Volume 2, 1302-1391, by Shlomo Simonsohn

By Garber, Zev | Shofar, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview

The Jews in Sicily, Volume 2, 1302-1391, by Shlomo Simonsohn


Garber, Zev, Shofar


Studia Post-Biblica No. 48.3. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2000. Pp. xiv + 599-1251. Np.

The volume under review is the sixteenth in the author's Documentary History of the Jews in Italy, and the second of four volumes on the Jews of Sicily, covering most of the fourteenth century. The first volume covers epigraphic records from 383 to 1300, and the remaining volumes are planned to cover the last century of Jewish presence on the largest island in the Mediterranean until the expulsion of the Jews in 1492. Simonsohn, Professor Emeritus of Jewish History at Tel Aviv University, charts known and not so known references and sources from state archives of Barcelona, Trapani, Venice, and particularly Palermo as well as state, local authorities, and notaries. What emerges is an impressive annotated record in Latin on the Jewish economic life in Sicily in the first century of Aragonese rule.

The documents suggest that the Jews were well adjusted in Sicilian life. They were indistinguishable from non-Jews in business dealings, and hundreds of notarial deeds suggest equity in taxes, debts, and fines. Records show that Jews were involved in all facets of economic life: blacksmiths, agriculture, merchants, real estate, saddlers, shoemakers, shipping, tanning, trade and business, and the medicinal profession, druggists, doctors, and surgeons. …

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