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September 9: The Talmud Burns in Rome

September 9, 2014
tn_8503_Pope-Paul-IVA committee of six cardinals, led by Giampietro Caraffa, head of the Inquisition in Rome and the future Pope Paul IV, ordered all copies of the Talmud to be confiscated in a house-to-house search of Jewish residences and burned publicly on the Campo de’ Fiori on this date — Rosh Hashone — in 1553. Other Talmuds were burned shortly thereafter in several other Italian cities. These deeds were part of the Catholic Church’s reaction to the Protestant Reformation, which prompted authorities to stamp out heresies of any kind. Twenty-five years later, when papal permission was given to reprint the Talmud in Basle, Switzerland, the books were expurgated of all passages considered offensive to Christianity, and the name “Talmud” was not used, as it was on the Index of Forbidden Books. The name of the tractate Avodah Zarah (“Idolatry”) was sufficient to have it entirely omitted. As pope, Paul IV renewed all previous anti-Jewish legislation and installed a ghetto in Rome. “As it is completely absurd and improper... that the Jews, who through their own fault were condemned by God to eternal servitude, can under the pretext that pious Christians must accept them and sustain their habitation, are so ungrateful to Christians, as, instead of thanks for gracious treatment, they return contumely, and among themselves, instead of the slavery, which they deserve...” —Pope Paul IV