Finding Fioretta

Synopsis: Venetian painter Serena Nono goes on a journey of historical and religious discovery with her cousin the restitution lawyer Randy Schoenberg, exploring the deep Jewish roots of her grandfather, the composer Arnold Schoenberg through Vienna and Prague back to the founding families of the old Jewish ghetto in Venice.

Serena, who was born and lives in Venice, travels with her cousin Randy from Los Angeles to Vienna and Prague, exploring the rich Jewish, cultural and scientific history of their ancestors, before returning to her home town of Venice, where she discovers the grave of an ancestor, Fioretta, buried 450 years ago in the old cemetery on the Lido. Along the way, they meet a variety of people who are deeply engaged in the exploration and preservation of Jewish history in Central Europe. These include, a luxury suit cloth dealer writing a genealogical encyclopedia of Jewish Vienna, a woman memorializing the Jews who once lived on her street, an actor photographing Jewish cemeteries in the Czech countryside, and a child hidden from the Holocaust who now, age 91, takes care of the old cemetery on the Lido, as well as historians, archivists and museum caretakers who are the custodians of precious Jewish artifacts and religious sites.

While some of Serena’s ancestors are evidenced only by a tombstone or an archival record, others have left behind a rich trove of historical records and stories, intersecting with Emperors, Kings and Popes, as well as famous scientists and musicians. The journey includes, as it must, the so-called “lacrymose history of the Jews” beginning with the Inquisition in the Kingdom of Naples and the establishment of the ghetto in Venice, and continuing with expulsions and persecutions in Vienna and Prague, concluding with the Holocaust, which also touched members of Serena and Randy’s family.

The genealogical record follows the path below, with each reference including the historical and genealogical data and artifacts available for discovery. Each number represents a single generation.

  1. Serena Nono (b. 1964) and Randol Schoenberg (b. 1966)
  2. Nuria Schoenberg Nono (b. 1932)
  3. Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)
  4. Pauline Nachod Schönberg (1848-1921)
  5. Josef Nachod (1813-1884)
  6. Gabriel Nachod (1776-1849)
  7. Daniel Avigdor Nachod (1727-1792)
  8. Moyses Nachod (1694-1759)
  9. Benet Nachod (-1742)
  10. Frumetl Ausch Nachod (-1724)
  11. Jentl Chalfan Ausch (-1700) and Josef Ausch (-1674)
  12. Chaim Chalfan (-1648)
  13. Joshua Heschel Chalfan
  14. Dr. Elia Chalfan (-1624)
  15. Dr. Abba Mari Chalfan (-1586), Rabbi Eliezer Ashkenazi (1512-1585), Kalman Chalfan
  16. Fioretta Kalonymos (- c. 1560) Dr. Eliyahu Menachem Chalfan (-1551), Solomon Molcho (-1532)
  17. Dr. Calo Kalonymos and Abba Mari Chalfan the Astronomer
  18. David Kalonymos the Astronomer and Rabbi Josef Colon Trabotto (Maharik)


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