||Bilingual Hebrew Italian booklet commemorating the dedication of a new synagogue in the city of Vercelli. The title page states that it is a new song of praise to God to be sung on the dedication day of the new synagogue in the city of Vercelli, 20 Elul in the year “I have blessed וברכתי (Wednesday September 18, 1878) him” (Genesis 17:20). The sponsor (nadiv) is Joseph Raphael ha-Levi. Beneath the Hebrew text is Italian text which states that it is Tradotte le due poesie in versi italiani dai Professor ESDRA PONTREMOLI e TREVES ALESSANDRO Vice Rabbini docenti nel Collegio Foa’ in Vercelli. Settembre 1878. There is an introduction from Joseph Raphael ben Joshua Samuel ha-Levi followed by the verse (pp. 8-35). One hundred thirteen lines of verse are in square vocalized Hebrew and Italian on facing pages to page 29, concluding with the date Rosh Hodesh Ellul, 30 Agosto 1878. A second set of unnumbered verse is dated 20 Elul 5638 18 Settembre 1878. The booklet is in its original wrappers. The front wrapper has a signature in the upper left hand corner in a fine handwriting ending with Vercelli, perhaps from a contemporary owner.
Vercelli is located in Piedmont, N. Italy. In 1446 the commune granted Abramo della Vigneria and his son Angelo a concession to establish a loan-bank in Vercelli on condition that they be prepared to lend the commune up to 100 florins on request. A small Jewish community formed around these bankers. There were eight Jewish loan-banks in Vercelli in 1624. On his death Elijah E. Foa (d. 1796) bequeathed his fortune to the community; among the institutions stemming from this bequest was the Collegio Foa (established 1829) which became an important training center for rabbis and Jewish teachers in Italy. The liberating influence of the French Revolution made itself felt in Vercelli; in 1816 they were released from many disabilities including the obligation to wear the Jewish badge; emancipation was completed when they were granted citizenship in 1848. In that year there were about 600 Jews in Vercelli, economically well-situated.
In 1853 Giuseppe Levi and Esdra Pontremoli founded in Vercelli the journal Educatore Israelita, which became the most widespread organ of Italian Jewry (it was superseded in 1878 by the Vessillo Israelitico). A new synagogue, in Arabic-Moorish style, was opened in 1878, for which this dedicatory verse was written. Until 1600, the Jews of Vercelli followed the Italian synagogal rite; through the influence of some bankers of German origin the Ashkenazi rite was adopted and remained in use.