Ghettos

Streets or sections of a city where Jewish people were compelled to reside. In more modern parlance the compulsory character of the situation may be implicit. The church continually agitated for segregation of Jews, but this was not officially done until the Third and Fourth Lateran Councils (1179 and 1215). In 1555 Pope Paul IV insisted upon the enforcement of the principles of segregation. Ghettos were established in Italy, North Africa, the Germanic countries, E Europe, and most of W Europe. The Muslim countries also enforced a rigid ghetto system. Within the ghettos the Jews experienced considerable autonomy and religious freedom, and developed some local pride. Some ghettos were enclosed with walls, and the gates were kept locked at night and during church festivals. These conditions were abolished by the end of the nineteenth century in Europe and by 1917 in Russia with the fall of the czarist regime. They continued in N Europe until the founding of Israel in 1948.

The ghettos denoted a way of life which led the Jews to a paradoxical desire for freedom and the fear of being exposed to discrimination. A type of ethnic and racial mentality has existed and still does exist to some extent in the United States. Legislation has been passed, however, which discourages these patterns of living.

See also Anti-Semitism.

I. Zangwill, Children of the Ghetto (1894); L. Wirth, The Ghetto (1928); P. Freedman, “The Jewish Ghettos of the Nazi Era,” in Jewish Social Studies, vol. XVI, no. 1 (1954).