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December 11, 2015 5:02 pm

Charity Headed by Diane von Furstenberg Calls on Wealthy Celebrities to Help Fund Restoration of Venice’s Jewish Ghetto

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Main square of Venetian Ghetto, where Venetian Jews were decreed to live. Photo: Wikipedia

The main square of the Venetian ghetto. Photo: Wikipedia

A non-profit organization headed by Jewish designer Diane von Furstenberg is appealing to celebrities for donations to help restore Venice’s ancient Jewish ghetto, The Telegraph reported on Thursday.

The Venetian Heritage Council hopes to fund extensive repairs to the Ghetto’s five synagogues, which date back to the 16th century, and its Jewish museum, the Museo Ebrico. The organization has already raised $2.2 million but still needs another $6.6 million.

Donations have already been made by prominent American Jews, most of whom wish to remain anonymous, according to The Telegraph. Barbra Streisand has also taken an interest in the project as has Jewish fashion designer Donna Karan. The group also hopes that director Steven Spielberg will contribute to the restoration project.

“The Ghetto of Venice sits at a nexus of world history for Venice, Europe and Jewish culture as a whole,” said Joseph Sitt, the chairman of the Venetian Heritage Council. “It needs to be saved, its history told.”

The appeal comes as Venice prepares to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Ghetto’s establishment.

The Venetian republic decreed in March of 1516 that all Jews living in the city should move to the Ghetto, an area of narrow alleyways and tall houses surrounding two squares: the Campo del Ghetto Nuovo and the Campo del Ghetto Vecchio. The area was considered ideal by Venetian rulers because it was in the Cannaregio district, far removed from the heart of Venice, and surrounded by water, effectively making it a prison for Jews, The Telegraph said. The Ghetto was enclosed by walls and gates that were locked at midnight by guards and reopened at dawn.

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  • erik keller

    would not be better to fund restoration of Gaza!?

  • michelle kahn

    A salute to Diane von Furstenberg for stepping up to chair this very important restoration. Maybe her son Anderson Cooper who airs on 360 will assist her then the 6.6 million will be a “walk in the park”….

  • duPont

    Unless the Italians are going to protect this historic site, the money will be wasted. The Italians have never been lovers of their Jews and I dare say they will not make an effort to protect it should ISIS or local antiSemites chose to destroy it. I have never forgotten that the Arab terrorists who threw Leon Klinghoffer off the Achille Lauro in his wheelchair were apprehended by the Italians and then set free! That is why I have never returned to Italy as a tourist and I never shall. The money would be better spent on helping the poor and hungry Jews in Israel or the Ukraine.

  • I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the Ghetto. Very interesting and beautiful. It also reminds us of our Jewish heritage and why we should continue to preserve our Jewish way of life.

  • Edith Gould

    I think the Vatican should give a decent donation.

  • Marc

    No money from ANY Jew that has expressed an anti Israel sentiment