Documents attest a Jewish presence in Florence dating back to the 14th century, but the establishment of a Jewish Community occurred after 1437, the year Cosimo il Vecchio de’Medici encouraged Jews to come to Florence as money lenders.
In 1570 a Medici duke, under pressure from the Pope, enclosed the Jews in a Ghetto in the center of town where Piazza della Repubblica now stands.
In 1861, citizenship was extended to the Jews of Tuscany and in 1882 the building of the magnificent Synagogue was completed.
After the war the Jewish school was reopened and the Synagogue was renovated.
The Jewish Community of Florence today
The Jewish Community today has approximately 1000 members, most of them of Italian or western Sephardic origin. Other members are from Israel, the United States, Eastern Europe and North Africa. The Community is part of the Orthodox Conference of European Rabbis, with an Orthodox Rabbi, members vary from the strictly to the less observant. The services follow the Spanish and Portuguese rituals and are held on the premises of the Moorish-style Synagogue, built in 1882.
Services are held on all major holidays and visitors are welcome. Jews from all over the world choose to celebrate their weddings and Bar and Bat Mitzvah at the magnificent Synagogue of Florence. The Community offers a wide range of services for its members and visitors such as cultural events, Kosher facilities, Mikveh and a Jewish nursing home.