C) HEALTH TRADITION AND THE FIRST HOSPITAL
The Jewish community, even if restricted by the antiJewish norms in force in Rome, throve thanks to traders and craftsmen, administrators and trustees of the pope, scholars and doctors, the last ones mainly among the rabbis.
The medical attitude made up for the difficult life conditions in the ghetto, maintaining the sanitary conditions to a level comparable to the rest of the city. During the plague in 1656 rabbi Zahalon noted that “la pestilenza colpì anche gli ebrei, i quali però guarivano più in fretta dei cristiani” [the plague infected also the Jews, that however recovered more quickly than the Christians].
A first Opera Pia Ebraica [Jewish Religious Charity] was founded in 1600 with the purpose to provide a simple health service, mostly at domicile, to the Jewish people that was not allowed to enter the the hospitals in Rome.
In 1881, due to a popular initiative of a small group of about forty traders who taxed themselves by 10 Liras each, it was set up the “Associazione via della Fiumara 26 per il ricovero degli ammalati poveri” [Association of Fiumara Street 26 for the hospitalization of poor sick people]: so in the unhealthy street running alongside the Tiber (pict.C1) a real hospital house was risen, even if constisting of a simple two rooms house with only four beds and managed by voluntary staff; however it was guaranteed the observance of the religious rules also for the preparation of the food.
When the ghetto was opened the Jewish community included more than thirty brotherhoods for social and sanitary welfare and charity: this nucleus was the origin of the “Deputazione centrale israelitica di carità” [Central Jewish Deputation for charity] (1885), a new organization for charitable supervision born of the merging and reorganization of some brotherhoods.