Sunday, April 17, 2011 at 1:00 PM
Edgardo Mortara was a Jewish boy who became the center of an international controversy when he was kidnapped from his Jewish parents by authorities of the Papal States and raised as a Roman Catholic. He later became a Roman Catholic priest. The seizure of the boy followed his secret baptism by a domestic servant during a serious infantile disease.
On the evening of June 23, 1858 in Bologna, then part of the Papal States, police arrived at the home of a Jewish couple, Salomone and Marianna Padovani Mortara to take one of their eight children, six year old Edgardo, and transport him to Rome to be raised as a ward of the state.
While many are well aware of such dramatic and traumatic court cases as the Dreyfus Case which called to the fore the strong anti-Semitic feelings in 19th century France, little is remembered of the Mortara Case despite strong outcries against this act by such leaders as Emperor Franz Josef and Napoleon III calling for Mortara being returned to his parents.
Rabbi Dr. Charles G. Agin is presently the Dean and Professor of Jewish Literature at The Rabbinical Academy in Woodmere, New York.. He was ordained at Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion and earned his doctorate at The Jewish Teachers Seminary in Jewish Literature. Dr. Agin is Rabbi Emeritus of the Free Synagogue of Flushing and has served as a Chaplain - Officer in the United States Army and the New York City Department of Corrections.