On Tuesday, Venice’s Jewish ghetto will begin the celebration of its 500th anniversary with nine months of events, including a concert at the Teatro La Fenice opera house and a production of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg guest-starring as the judge presiding over Shylock’s trial.
For some, it’s not clear there’s much to celebrate — the ghetto was created in 1516 because Venice authorities forced Jews to move into an undesirable area of abandoned foundries. The area became the first to be called a “ghetto,” and, in fact, the term ghetto may come from “getto,” which means foundry. For others, however, the anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate the city’s dwindling but closely intertwined Jewish community. “What we’re celebrating are not the ghetto’s walls, but the rich and diverse cultural traditions that flourished inside them,” said Shaul Bassi, the coordinator of the committee for the anniversary celebrations, and chair of Beit Venezia.
Earlier this month, publisher Simon and Schuster announced the Supreme Court Justice will tell the story of her life through some of her own, previously-written words. The book will be the Ginsburg’s first since being sworn to the bench in 1993 and will be a collaborative effort between her and her authorized biographers — both of whom are women.
My Own Words will be “a selection of writings and speeches by Justice Ginsburg on wide-ranging topics, including gender equality, the workways of the Supreme Court, on being Jewish, on law and lawyers in opera, and on the value of looking beyond U.S. shores when interpreting the U.S. Constitution,” the press release said.