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Short biography
Sarra (or Sara) Copia was one of three daughters born to a prominent Jewish family in the Republic of Venice, Italy. She received an education that included Jewish and Italian culture, Latin, Greek, and Spanish. She won local fame for her poems in Italian. Around 1612, she married Jacob Sullam, a wealthy businessman. She and her husband loved the arts, and invited both Christian and Jewish writers, poets, intellectuals, artists, and clerics to their home. She frequented the other literary salons of Venice as well, where she was able to receive lessons from scholars and poets. In 1621, the priest Baldassar Bonifaccio accused her in a pamphlet of having denied the dogma of immortality of the soul, a crime for which the Roman Catholic Church decreed the death penalty. Sarra immediately wrote Manifesto di Sarra Copia lhebrea Nel quale è da lei riprovate, e detestata l’opinione negante l’Immortalità dell’Anima, falsemente attribuitale da Sig. Baldassare Bonifacio (The Manifesto of Sara Copia Sullam, a Jewish woman, in which she refutes and disavows the opinion denying immortality of the soul, falsely attributed to her by Signor Baldassare Bonifacio). The work was published in three different editions that year, including one by Bonifacio's own publisher. In her Manifesto, Sarra Copia Sullam displayed her classical learning and familiarity with both the Old and New Testaments and the works of Josephus, Aristotle, and Dante. It also included four sonnets. Her literary career was unique for a Jewish woman of her time. It was fraught with danger, since as a woman and a Jew, she was a target for such dangerous slanders. Her defenders, however, admired her as one of the best women writers of the Renaissance. Other writers of her day mentioned her n their work and some also visited her. During subsequent centuries, her work appeared in many anthologies of Italian literature.
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