Book Chapter or Section
In 1712,a casino was established in the Jewish neighborhood of the Mediterranean port of Livorno. This venue, which stayed open until 1720, appears unique, as no similar Jewish institutions have been described in comparable communities. This explores the significance of the casino for the relationship of Livornese Jewry with Tuscan culture and the state by investigating internal documents from the Livornese Jewish community (nazione ebrea) in light of analogous Tuscan institutions. By considering an episode in the relatively little studied history of early modern Jewish leisure, we gain insight into values and aspirations of members of one of the principal Sephardic communities of the western Mediterranean, with broader implications for eighteenth-century Jewish historiography. My discussion builds on an academic tradition greatly indebted to Jane Gerber, a pioneering advocate for the scholarly study of Sephardic history, whom I am also fortunate to know as a supportive colleague and generous mentor at our shared institutional home at the City University of New York.
“The Merchants at the Casino: Sephardic Elites and Leisure Time in Eighteenth-Century Livorno,” in Federica Francesconi, Stanley Mirvis, and Brian Smollett, eds., From Catalonia to the Caribbean: The Sephardic Orbit from Medieval to Modern Times: Essays in Honor of Jane. S. Gerber (Brill, 2018), 136-153