The Journey of the Mantua/Sermide Ark
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Scuola Grande
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The Scuola Grande, built in 1529 within the private house of the banker Isaac Fano from Senigallia, was the main synagogue of the town, for the Italian rite, and also the richest of the synagogues in the Duchy capital. It was also the center of communal life, the very place where the meetings of the congregation councils were held.
The Torah Ark
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The Torah Ark and its two monumental cathedrae come from the Great Synagogue (Scola Grande) of Mantua and were made in 1543, according to an inscription that appears on one of the cathedrae: “The Great Synagogue  here in Mantua, Nissan (5)303” [1543].
Siege of the German Army
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In 1630, during the siege of the German army and the sack of the town, the synagogues were ruined and plundered.
Palace of the Duchess Gonzaga
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In 1633 the Great Synagogue was transferred to a new site, within the Palace of the Duchess Felicita Gonzaga.
Transfer to Sermide
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Possibly considered too modest for the new luxurious venue, the Ark was transferred in 1635 to Sermide, a small town 70 kilometers south-east of Mantua.
Storage in Bologna
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After the 2nd world war and the demise of the Jewish community of Mantua, the Arks from the various synagogues were dismantled and kept in storage in Bologna.
This is attested by the handwritten inventory of Umberto Nahon, founder of the future Museum of Italian Jewish Art (see 2nd line from top)
The Road to Jerusalem
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In September 1955 the Mantua/Sermide Ark and the cathedrae were brought to Jerusalem and assembled in memory of Rabbi Sally Meyer. The ark is now one of the highlights of the Umberto Nahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art.