Memories of Jewish Life


Memories of Jewish Life

From Italy to Jerusalem, 1918-1960

Augusto Segre
Translated and with an introduction by Steve Siporin
Foreword by Tamar Segre and Daniel Segre

542 pages
28 photographs, 4 maps


September 2008


$40.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
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September 2008


$40.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

In this lyrical memoir, translated for the first time into English, noted Jewish historian, author, translator, and activist Augusto Segre not only recounts his rich life experiences but also evokes the changing world of Italian Jewry in the twentieth century. Raised in the traditional Jewish community of Casale Monferrato in the former ghetto, Segre depicts the changes wrought on his people by emancipation, fascism, world wars, and the Holocaust.
Segre was a vocal opponent of Italian fascism and a combatant in Italy’s partisan war against the Nazis. With the help of Italian peasants, he and his family spent eighteen months evading German and Italian fascist soldiers during the German occupation of Italy. Segre also was an ardent Zionist who helped refugees escape to Israel and ultimately immigrated himself in 1979.  He spent three months in Israel in 1948, chronicling Israel’s War of Independence.
With an ethnographic eye, Segre interweaves his own memories with those of his rabbi father and uses newspapers, public documents, and letters to reveal the shared emotions and moods of a people and the impact the greatest events in European and Jewish history had on them all. The trend of Italian Jews toward assimilation was evident in Segre’s time, and an awareness of it pervades this work. Memories of Jewish Life provides a rare glimpse into a traditional, religious and vibrant working-class Jewish community that no longer exists.

Author Bio

Augusto Segre (1915–86) was born in the northern Italian town of Casale Monferrato and died a citizen of Israel. He was a professor at the Italian Rabbinical College and the Lateran Pontifical University and authored nine books.
Steve Siporin is a professor of folklore at Utah State University. He is the author of American Folk Masters: The National Heritage Fellows.


"In this beautifully written book, newly translated into English, Augusto Segre recounts his life experiences with insight, philosophy, and gracefully told anecdotes. . . . The traditional religious and vibrant working-class Jewish community that Segre describes, alas, no longer exists but will live forever in the pages of this wonderful book."—Jewish Book World

"Segre's fascinating narrative enables us to understand some things about the Italian Jewish community, especially its horrible experiences just before and during World War II. Our understanding of and appreciation for Italian Jews are greatly enhanced by this fine book."—Morton I. Teicher, National Jewish Post & Opinion

"The oral, conversational style of the original Italian has been masterfully rendered by Siporin's translated prose, and readers will delight in the discovery that this important book, which sheds light on a little known community and a very dark chapter in Italy's past, proves moreover to be a most enjoyable reading experience as the memoirs of an individual become the collective history of an entire community."—Rachele Longo Lavorato, Shofar

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

List of Maps 




1. Once Upon a Time

2. The Rabbi's Family

3. It's Not Always Easy to Become a Rabbi

4. The Community Council

5. First Experiences

6. Casalese Anti-Zionism

7. Jewish Festivals and Solemnities

8. Community and Family Life

9. Farewell Visit

10. Rome, Friends, and Teachers

11. Jewish Rome

12. Students and Politicians

13. From Police Stations to the Secretaryship of the Union

14. The Racial Campaign Breaks Out

15. Dante Lattes Leaves

16. Working with Raffaele Cantoni

17. Who Leaves and Who Stays

18. I Return Home

19. Asti and Moncalvo

20. Commuter

21. The Nazi Invasion

22. Partisan Life

23. April 25

24. The Prisoner Emerling

25. Toward a Normal Life

26. Return to Rome

27. The State of Israel Is Reborn

28. New Activities of the Zionist Federation

29. Sailing for Israel

30. Israel at War

31. A Happy Encounter

32. The Slansky Case

33. Life Goes On





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