Cesare Colafemmina, Italian Jewry Expert, Dies

Italian scholar Cesare Colafemmina, an internationally known pioneer in the study of Jewish history and culture in southern Italy, has died.

Colafemmina died Wednesday after a long illness at the age of 79.

A university professor, archeologist and specialist in Jewish inscriptions and ancient history, Colafemmina wrote and researched extensively on the Jewish presence in Calabria, Apulia and elsewhere in southern Italy, from ancient times until the present, focusing largely on the period before and after the Jews’ expulsion from the region in the 15th and 16th centuries.

He was instrumental in discovering and deciphering inscriptions found in the ancient Jewish catacombs at Venosa in Potenza province.

In recent years, Colafemmina oversaw the installation of a Jewish museum, a section of the local Diocesan Museum, in one of the two 13th century synagogues that remain standing in the town of Trani, in Apulia.

He was on the executive committee of the Italian Association for Jewish Studies, and the Cesare Colafemmina Center for the Research and Documentation of Judaism in the Mediterranean Region was recently founded in his honor.

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