Rav Marco Tedeschi
What shall I say, in the midst of this struggle between opposite opinions set armed against each other? […] A few scared by the century’s movement, holding to the fathers’ venerable traditions and to those blindly clinging, like the castaway who clings to the plank, hoping that it will land him from the sea upon the shore, without even glancing around or forward; many gazing at the future with covetous eyes, seeking for an unknown and infinite and undefined destination, forgetful of the fathers’ teachings and, more than forgetful, contemptuous. In which direction shall the Teacher of the faith turn his gaze, whose path shall he halt, who shall he push forward? […] Will he be the custodian of the past, or the initiator of the future? Especially if he looks at the improved conditions of the times, whence a new age of justice and peace for the tormented family of Israel arose […] for which the Israelite does not have to hide his faith anymore, as an object of hate and shame, but is embraced by his fellow citizens, and civilization beckons him at her chariot, and society to her bosom, and the fatherland at her service for her glory and her peace – what path shall the Minister of the Lord walk to reconcile the two different courses, these two men, so to speak, the devout and the citizen?
From Marco Tedeschi, Discorso recitato dall’eccellentissimo signore Marco Tedeschi, professore di Belle lettere e già Rabbino in Asti nel solenne suo ingresso alla cattedra di Rabbino Maggiore della Comunità Israelitica di Trieste nel Tempio Maggiore di Rito Tedesco la sera delli 4 Chislev 5619 – 11 Novembre 1858, Tip. Cohen, Trieste 1858, p. 6.
Marco Tedeschi, philologist, theologian, poet, translator, pedagogue, was Trieste’s Chief Rabbi from 1858 until his death in 1869. Hailing from Piemonte, he was a staunch supporter of the Savoy dynasty and the process of Italian unification. He guided the Triestine community in a time of change for the entire European Jewry, torn between a rigid orthodoxy and a steadily accelerating assimilation into the majority society.