Stones Speak – Hebrew Tombstones from Padua, 1529-1862
David Malkiel, Bar-Ilan University
From Renaissance to Risorgimento, the Hebrew tombstones of Padua express the cultural currents of their age, in text and art. The inscriptions are mainly rhymed and metered poems, about life, love and faith, while the design and ornamentation of the actual stones reflect prevailing architectural and artistic tastes. Additionally, the inscriptions illuminate the society of Padua’s Jews, and the social and cultural changes they underwent during the 330 years covered by this study. Thus these tombstones capture the flow of Italian Jewish culture from Renaissance to Baroque, and from the early modern to the modern era.