Venice Jewish Ghetto

Old Jun 17th, 2009, 06:29 PM
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Venice Jewish Ghetto

I'm leaving in 2 weeks for 17 days with 9 family members in Italy. We want to see the Jewish Ghetto and don't know whether to do a tour or just explore ourselves. We have received two quotes for different options. We could pay $80 per person for an English speaking "escort" or $110 per person for an English speaking tour guide. With either plan, we would go to the Jewish museum on our own. This seems to be very expensive. Do we need a tour guide? Are there any other options? I appreciate any and all advice.
elysag is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2009, 06:37 PM
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I visited theGhetto - I'm not Jewish. I did not take a tour and the museum was closed. But....
I sighted some sobering monuments in Canneragio, in the Ghetto, a sequence, a story.
Monument No 1. A tablet, let into the wall, generally detailing the things that Jews were allowed to do in Venice, and providing for a reward for anyone denouncing people (i.e. Jews) for blasphemy. The reward to be funded from the prpoerty of the blasphemer, punishment fully detailed, secret denunciations invited. It is dated 26 September 1704, but I find it hard to believe that such persecution was still happening at that time, but two hundred ant thirty years later it certainly was. Every Jewish child in the Ghetto would have understood fully the significance of that tablet on the wall. The restrictions on Jews only ceased in 1797, with the arrival of Napoleon, barely two centuries ago. The Lion of Venice has been hammered off this tablet, and I can imagine the enthusiasm with which this little piece of civic vandalism was conducted.

Monument No 2. A tablet, listing the names of Venetian Jews who died in the 1915-18 war, patriotic Italians, who happened to be Jewish, and supported Italy in spite of Monument No 1.

Monument No 3. A tablet, immediately opposite No 2, erected by the remants of the Venetian Jewish community, abhoring the deaths of 200 Venetian Jews, 8000 Italian Jews and six million European Jews in the Holocaust. The Venetian Jews branded as undesirables, in spite of the patriots named on Monument No 2.

Monument No 4. An apology by the Mayor of Venice, in Hebrew, Italian and English, to the 200 Venetian Jews who were carted out of Venice on the fifth of December, 1943, and the seventeenth of August, 1944. Signed by the Mayor, Mario Rigo, and I have to find out when he was Mayor. I anticipate it will be well after the erection of Monument No 3, but an apology none the less.

Monument No 5. A structure made of horizontal timber boards, bound with vertical steel straps. The names of the 200 Venetian Jewish victims are engraved on the boards. The whole effect is of a cattle truck, and is most profound - I spent a time reading the names, Elena Serini, aged 14, Scandiani Diena, aged 81. I have no idea what their story is, and possibly this is the only monument they will ever have.

Monument No 6 is not meant to be a monument at all, but I can’t help but see it in the sequence. It is a small kiosk in the Ghetto, to contain the three or four security guards on duty there all the time. That’s a monument to intolerance, and can too easily lead one back to Monument No 1.
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Old Jun 17th, 2009, 06:48 PM
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I did just fine visiting it on my own with a guidebook. And that price on a per person basis for 10 people is just ridiculous.
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Old Jun 17th, 2009, 07:24 PM
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Those prices do seem a little crazy. I think you can do it yourself armed with Peter's notes above and a couple of decent guidebooks, but here is a tour company that only charges 20 euro per person:

It's a pretty small, fairly quiet part of Venice - a place for reflection. Being in a tour group would definitely take away from that.
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Old Jun 17th, 2009, 07:26 PM
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Those prices are crazy. This is where Rick Steves comes in handy. You can explore the Ghetto on your own. You can visit the museum on your own for 3.00 euro. The museum has a small cafe & bookstore. You sign up there for tours of the synagogue, in English. Cost is 8:50 euro. It is well worth it, IMO. Hours for museum are: June-September, Sunday-Friday, 10:00-17:00. Synagogue tours are hourly, 10:30 to 17:30. Winter hours are one hour shorter for both. Everything is closed on Saturdays and Jewish holidays. Phone number for bookstore is 041-715-359. We have always just showed up a half hour or so before tours start and bought tickets then. Very interesting, especially the Synagogue. Once in a while, you will be lucky and visit two Synagogues.
Hope this helps.
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Old Jun 18th, 2009, 09:54 AM
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I did it myself with a guidebook (not Rick Steves - his historical information is dubious). I was standing in one of the squares looking at a monument and a man with hassidic garb came walking out of a storefront and offered to take me around and show me the highlights. This was quite a few years ago and I don't remember the details, but I got a really great, free guided tour of the area. I offered to buy him lunch or pay him, but he politely declined.
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Old Jun 18th, 2009, 10:44 AM
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Yes, go to the museum and sign up for the synagogue tour.
The synagogues are beautiful and behind very plain doors. You wouldn't know that they were there.
Our guide was pretty good on general history too.
Men need to cover their heads. You can borrow a skull-cap, but you might prefer to take a hat.
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Old Jun 18th, 2009, 11:00 AM
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My sister and I enjoyed touring the area on our own.
We had read up on it in a guidebook before hand and was able to wander and find the synagogue.
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Old May 14th, 2016, 07:39 AM
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The information given by posters above is correct. The tour prices you were given are totally overpriced.

I visited the Ghetto in Venice many years ago without a tour & remember signing up for the English speaking tours at the location that Sassafrass posted above.

The tour was very interesting & given at the time by local Venetian members of the Jewish Community in Venice.

It was certainly worth the visit.
It is easy to go without the tour.
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Old May 14th, 2016, 07:49 AM
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The "man in hassidic garb" may have been a follower of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Last time we were in the Ghetto, we saw a big poster of the Rebbe, though I didn't think to see if it was identifying a Chabad House.

Like Peter, I am not Jewish, but I am devastated everywhere in Europe by the plaques in memory of the murdered Jews and by the plaques in memory of resistance fighters who opposed the tyranny that killed them.

They are among the sites that we must never forget.
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Old May 14th, 2016, 08:02 AM
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I hope they are back from their tour as they asked seven years a go.
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Old May 14th, 2016, 08:53 AM
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This post is 7 years old.

However, that Lubavitcher rebbe Mr. Nantucket is referring to was the late M.Schneerson. His photo is outside a kosher restaurant right after you cross a bridge on the Rio Ghetto.

I used to deal with one of his relatives when I worked in Manhattan.

The Lubavitchers believe Schneerson is the messiah.

Me, not so much.

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