What if the Menorah Were in the Vatican?

The Menorah’s current whereabouts has captivated the imagination of many throughout the centuries, and remain a subject of speculation that many seek to unravel.  From the Depths of the Tiber to the Vaults of the Vatican The Menorah may well be located in the Vatican. As Archaeologist Paolo Carafa from Rome’s Sapienza University points out, […]

Rabban Yochanan’s Meeting with Vespasian & What it Meant for Jewish Learning

Tomb of Rabbi Yohanan Ben Zakai in Tiberias, Israel

While leading tours of the Colosseum, which was built from the plunder of Jerusalem at the end of the Roman-Jewish War, I’m often reminded of a story of immeasurable importance in our history. This story tells of a meeting between a Rabbi, Yochanan ben Zakkai, and the emperor Vespasian, the outcome of which preserved the […]

Why so many Nobel Prize Winners are Jewish

Yitzhak-Rabin-Shimon-Peres-Nobel-Peace-Prize copy (1)

If I asked you what percentage of the world’s population was Jewish, what would you say?  Surely no more than 10%, right? Probably not even around 5%?  Maybe it would help if you had some kind of statistic to compare it to. Like that Jews account for around 20% of Nobel Prize laureates, for example. […]

The Stumbling Stones of Rome

Rome Stumbling Stones

Spend time exploring Rome’s Jewish Ghetto and you’ll soon stumble upon some inscribed brass inscriptions among the dark Roman cobbles. These are Rome’s Stumbling Stones – pietri d’inciampo in Italian or Stolpersteine in German. And the history they preserve is harrowing.  Who created the Stolpersteine? The Stolpersteine were devised and created by Berlin artist Gunter Demnig […]

The Gold of Rome: an Incredible Story from the Nazi Occupation

Photo of the Ghetto's liquidation during the Nazi occupation

Italians are well-versed in the wartime story of the Gold of Rome. The events that befell Rome’s Jewish community during the Nazi occupation of Rome were immortalised in Carlo Lizzani’s eponymous feature-length film. Few outside Italy are familiar with the story of the Gold of Rome, and the impossible ultimatum the Nazis gave the Rome’s […]

Rome Jewish Ghetto Tour – Why Choose RomanJews?

Filming for a Discovery documentary on Ancient Rome, the Menorah and the Ark of the Covenant

Joining me on a Rome Jewish Ghetto tour is the most intimate and authentic way to discover the Eternal City’s most treasured district. During the three hours we spend together you become part of our community, meeting and interacting with locals. And because my family and ancestors have been integrated into Rome’s Jewish community for […]

The 5 Best Kosher Restaurants in Rome

Shabbat menu at BellaCarne in Rome

No trip to Rome would be complete without indulging in the city’s renowned Roman-Jewish cuisine at one of the best kosher restaurants in Rome. Central to the capital’s culinary culture is its innovative creation, ‘la cucina ebraica-romana’ which translates as Jewish-Roman Cuisine. Its dishes bring out the best in Jewish and Middle Eastern flavours and […]

Visiting the Great Synagogue of Rome

The Great Synagogue of Rome. Photo Credit: Paolo Menchetti

Steeped in history and rich in culture, the Jewish Ghetto is among Rome’s most atmospheric historical neighbourhoods, but no exploration of the Jewish Ghetto would be complete without visiting the Great Synagogue of Rome. For more than 100 years, the synagogue has stood at the physical and metaphorical centre of Rome’s Jewish community, serving as […]

Can Jews Go Inside the Sistine Chapel?

Can Jews go inside the Sistine Chapel? Feature image: Michelangelo - Creation of Adam

Can Jews Go Inside the Sistine Chapel?  Today I’m addressing a question my guests ask me all the time: can Jews go inside the Sistine Chapel?  Rome boasts an abundance of attractions and cultural curiosities. Running through the Eternal City is a rich vein of Jewish history and patrimony: not just in and around the […]

Pope John Paul II and his Protection of the Jews

Rome’s Jewish community still harbours considerable respect for Pope John Paul II. No pontiff before him had done more to bridge the divide between the Catholic Church and the Jews, which had split Rome’s population for centuries. Nor had any Pope before him extended the Church’s olive branch of friendship by stepping into Rome’s Great […]