The Jews of Corfu: Between the Adriatic and the Ionian

Update: Links to recordings of the Corfu community event and the conservation event are now linked below.Poster with event details (as in text below)

We are thrilled to announce the opening of a new, joint exhibition about the Jews of Corfu. The Jewish communities in Corfu date back millennia, but due to its devastation by the Nazis during World War II, this vibrant and unique community is not very well known today.  The Libraries of Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), together holding one of the world’s largest collections of materials relating to Jews on this Greek Island, will launch an exhibition the week of August 22 featuring illuminated ketubbot (marriage contracts), decorated prayer books, communal documents, and government legislation over the communities of Corfu. A digital exhibition showcasing the items is also available.

There are two parts to the physical exhibition: one at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library‘s (RBML) Chang Gallery at Columbia University, and one in the in the new Library building at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). The exhibitions will be open during each library’s regular business hours (RBML; JTS). Note that Columbia materials will be on display at both locations; the JTS materials will be only at their library’s exhibition.

Image of Bilaam and his donkey taken from a book of liturgical poems

Some of the events surrounding the exhibit are listed below.

  • An opening event and celebration for the exhibition was held on Wednesday September 7.
  • On Thursday, September 15, from 2-5, we held an “open house” at Columbia featuring Corfu materials not included in the exhibition.
  • On Thursday September 15, at 6 PM, Dr. Shalom Sabar, Professor Emeritus at the Hebrew University, presented a lecture on the art and unique language in the Corfu ketubbot.  This event was sponsored in memory of Manfred Max and Nehama Gottschalk.
  • Guided tours at JTS were be available on September 22, October 25, and November 8 at 11 AM and September 29 and November 17 at 6 PM.
  • On Thursday, October 13, in conjunction with the holiday of Sukkot, Columbia Libraries hosted a pop-up exhibit showcasing Judaica treasures from the collection alongside the Corfu exhibition.
  • In partnership with the JTS/Columbia exhibition uptown, the Kehila Kedosha Janina mounted an exhibition of items relating to the Jews of Corfu from materials in their collection on Sunday, October 23.
  • In partnership with the Jewish Museum of Greece (JMG) and the Corfu Jewish community, we held a virtual event on Monday, October 31 at 12 PM EST, 6 PM Greece called “The Jews of Corfu: Past and Present.”  The event highlighted a recent digital exhibition by the JMG on the Jews of Corfu, the current exhibition at Columbia and JTS, and a conversation with members of the community on Jewish life in Corfu today.
  • To celebrate the incredible work of the conservation team that worked to make the materials safe for exhibition, we hosted an online event on November 7 at 12:30 PM called “Red Inks and Gold Leaf, Parchment and Paper: Conservation of the Corfu Manuscripts.”

11 thoughts on “The Jews of Corfu: Between the Adriatic and the Ionian

  1. At this point we are not planning on a printed catalogue. The online exhibition should be live by early next week.

  2. My father’s family was from Corfu so this is very exciting! I’m looking forward to coming to see the exhibit in person.

  3. Since the Columbia portion of the exhibit is still open until Dec 16, is special arrangement necessary to visit on December 12? We are TC graduates visiting nyc for a short time.

  4. As TC graduates, you should be able to enter Butler – just remember to bring a government-issued photo ID and let the folks in the Library Information Office know that you’re there for the Corfu exhibit in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Enjoy!

  5. Have you run across any of the Shabtai ben Shlomo Belleli (Belili) mss. prayerbooks?

    Thank you

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