Some Famous Italian Ottolenghi's


Abraham Azariah Ottolenghi (Bonajut), 1776-1851

Rabbi of Acqui and philospher.  Author of "Shir Lekavod Hatora" (Leghon 1808).

He joined the revolutionary cause and after the Battle of Montanotte gave a famous speech about the significance of the Tree of Liberty.  In 1799 after the French battle losses at Novi, the Jewish population was persecuted and he was attacked by the reactionary party. He and his brother, Israel Emmanuel escaped into the mountains and their father was imprisoned as a hostage in Genoa.

After the Battle of Marengo Abraham Azariah returned to his studies at Acqui and volunteered to take up the position of Rabbi without payment, continuing as Rabbi of Acqui almost until his death in 1851.


Donato Ottolenghi, 1820-1883

Author, famous patriot and philanthropist lived in Alessandria from 1848 until his death.  Published many articles in "La Provincia" and "Il Vessillo Israelitico" his better known papers are

"La Causa dei Poveri Deferta al Sesso Gentile" (Alessandria 1860) "Si Pensi al Povero, Considerazioni e Proposte" 1860, "Progetto per la Fondazione di un Comitato Centrale e Permanente di Benificenza in Alessandria" 1868.


Emilio Ottolenghi (Count of Vallepiana), 1830-

Born in Acqui in 1830, a philanthropist and founder of refuges and asylums in Piedmot where he lived from 1848. He was a director of the Bank of Italy, the Savings Bank and a prominent leader of the Jewish community. Knighted and made a Commander of the Crown of Italy, he was made Count of Vallepiana by King Humbert I in 1883.


Lazzaro Ottolenghi, 1820-1890

Hebrew poet and playwright:  "Matrimonio Misto" (comedy), "Dialoghi Religioso Morali" and "Kol Kore"

Renowned preacher, Rabbi of Turin, Moncalvo and Acqui.  Lived his later life in Rome.


Leonetto Ottolenghi, 1829-1904

Philanthropist who rebuilt the Asti Synagogue in 1889.  Organiser and President of the 1891 Asti exhibition and Promoter of the 1898 exhibition.  Founder of the Alfieri Collection at the palazzo Alfieri

Honoured with hereditary title of count in 1898.  Presented the statue of King Humbert I to Asti in 1903.


Joseph Ben Nathan Ottolenghi,  -1570

Rabbi and head of yeshiva of Cremona where he arrived from Ettlingen in Germany, making Cremona a famous seat of Talmudic study. In the period 1558 to 1562 published 20 Hebrew books in Riva di Trento at the renowned printing house established by Cardinal Madruz. An alleged vendetta with one Joshua di Cantori was said to have lead to the destruction of some 10,000 talmudic books by the Italian Office of the Holy Inquisition in Cremona in 1559.


Samuel David Ben Yehiel Ottolenghi,  -1718

Rabbi of padua and Venice, Poet and Kaballist. A native of Casale Monferrato founded a charitable organisation "Malbish Arumim" (Clothier of the Naked).

Published many religious works and left many unpublished manuscripts .


Moses Jacob Ottolenghi, 1840-1901

Born in Livorno and died in Saloniki (Greece), Published plays and poetry in Hebrew and Ladino. Translator into Hebrew of Italian religious work Mishpat L'Yaakov.


General Giuseppe Ottolenghi, 1838-1904

Probabaly the most famous Ottolenghi of modern times. Studied at Law School in Turin but then joined the Turin Military Academy. Joined the armed forces as a volunteer in 1859 seeing action in the 1860 and 1861 campaigns, becoming the first Jew on the General Staff. Was decorated for bravery in 1864 and 1866. Professor of military history and tactical studies at the Royal Military College of Modena. Served as military attache to the French in the Franco Prussian War and delegate to the European Turko Montenegro border committee. In 1888 was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General, Commander of Turin Division 1895, Commandant 4th Army Corps in 1902, Minister for War 1902- 1903, Senator in 1903 and commander of the Ist Army Corps in 1903.


Adolfo Ottolenghi, 1880-1943

Rabbi of Venice 1919-1943 then deported by Nazis to Germany where he perished in a concentration camp.


Some further references:

Funk & Wagnall's Jewish Encyclopaedia 1925
The History of the Jews of Italy by Cecil Roth, Jewish Publication Society of America 1946
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1972
Il Vessillo Israelitico
Ottolenghi di Vallepiana ex Famiglie Illustri Italiane
Archives Israelites 1904
140 Jewish Marshals, Generals and Admirals by E. Rubin 1952

Submitted by Bryan Langley