The Inter Ocean, October 22, 1899
The following statement as to ghettoes is made by Mr. Zangwill, the Jewish novelist and playwright:
Ghetto is an Italian word. The thing is an Italian institution, though there were comparatively mild imitations in the Judentrasse, or Jews’ street, of many mediaeval or German towns. The first ghetto in the strict sense was established in Venice. You can still see there the place where the gate formerly stood. The ghetto in Rome followed. It was instituted by Pope Paul IV., in 1556. Until 1847 the Jews were segregated here by law. The ghetto was removed in 1885 and the following years, the demolition having been rendered necessary by the New Tiber embankment. I have stood on the spot it formerly occupied and, looking over the huddling mass of dirty ruins, I was struck with pain and wonder at the thought of the thousands of miserable alleys and streets that once intersected it, the tens of thousands of inhabitants formerly crowded into so scanty a foothold. It struck me as one of the most curious signs of the tendencies of the times that, when a new Jewish synagogue was recently contemplated, the site finally chosen for it was in the very heart of this area redolent of memories of former Jewish persecution.
The compulsory ghetto is now dead here, and everywhere else, excepting only in Russia. There,
however, it is not a ghetto of streets, but of towns. The Jews are banished to certain localities, where they live separate from the rest of the population under stringent laws. They multiply greatly in these towns through what I call their improvident reliance on Providence. The Jews are naturally prolific. They produce that fecundity is the secret of strength and life if the natural outlet for an overflow be allowed. But to dam up the Jews by unnatural restrictions of locality is to find the secret of death. It produces an overpopulation which is fatal. Even means of livelihood are cut off. When there are twenty rival shops where only one should be, a throat-cutting competition must result. But as I have said, it is only in Russia that the official ghetto still remains. Nevertheless, the word still survives in the popular vocabulary as a term for that portion of every city which people of Hebrew race, or at least the poorer members, voluntarily inhabit and make their own. It is in this sense that I use the word.
Chicago Tribune, May 26, 1912
Chicago Tribune, June 2, 1913