There is uninterrupted historical evidence of a Jewish presence in Naples from Roman times up to the final expulsions which took place between 1510 and 1541. The Jews were briefly allowed to return in 1740 under the reign of Charles of Bourbon, who expressly had Jewish merchants of various origins invited to the city in the hope that their skills might boost the city’s floundering economy. Banished again in 1747, a Jewish group was finally able to settle permanently in the city in 1830. The revival of Jewish life in Naples is linked to the story of a vast loan made by the Rothschild banking dynasty to the Bourbon rulers. A pivotal event was Baron Carl Rothschild’s move to the city; he (along with his family) was the community’s greatest benefactor. One room in his residence at Villa Acton (now Villa Pignatelli) was turned into a prayer hall; when the Jewish Community was officially founded in 1861, the group rented a premises in Vico Santa Maria a Cappella Vecchia. Baron Adolf Carl de Rothschild, Carl’s son, paid for the renovation work and the first five years of rent. Thanks to donations from other members and particularly the community’s president, Dario Ascarelli, the building was finally purchased in 1927. The Spanish rite synagogue is on the first floor overlooking a courtyard which bears no external signs of the place of worship inside. The interior has a rectangular layout divided in two by an archway. The central tevah, surrounded by benches, faces the aron, which rests on the eastern wall opposite the entrance. The same apartment contains conference and meeting rooms, the community secretary’s office and the rabbi’s residence.
Via Santa Maria a Cappella Vecchia, 31
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Jewish Community of Naples