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04 September 2010

Jews of Leghorn (Livorno)


In some of the early Jewish families in the British Isles, it is not uncommon to see mention of Leghorn as a place of origin. Leghorn or Livorno as it is now better known, was the main port of Tuscany, in central Italy. In the 1600's Leghorn became a very important place for trade between the Atlantic and North Sea ports, and those of the Mediterranean. In the early 1600's there were only about 130 Jews in Leghorn, but the numbers soon grew, to almost 1300 by 1650 and almost double that by the end of the century. Almost all of these Jews were of Spanish origin , or came through other cities after having left Portugal.

One of the most esteemed of the Leghorn families is the family Meldola. Well known printers of their time, the family influenced the lives of many Jews. Rabbi David Meldola was born in Leghorn in 1797, the eldest son of Raphael Medola. He was a prominent member of the London Sephardic community, serving as acting Chief Rabbi for over 25 years until his death. He along with Moses Angel founded the London "Jewish Chronicle". He died in London in 1853.

His father, Raphael was born in Leghorn in 1754 and died in London on 1 Jun 1828. he was a preacher for many years and obtained the title of Rabbi in 1803.

His grandfather, Moses Hezekiah Meldola was born in Leghorn in 1725 and died in 1791. He was a well known philologist and wrote many books on the Semitic languages. He was appointed professor of Oriental languages at the University of Paris.
In many ways the Meldola family and the city of Leghorn, were perfect for each other, one a beautiful place that one can't easily forget, the other a family whose works will never be forgotten.
The records of these members of the Meldola family can be found in The records of The British Isles.

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