||Although Jews had already lived in Ferrara for centuries, the challenges presented by the events of the sixteenth century impelled the disparate elements of Ferrarese Jewish society to formally re-organize in 1573 under the title of 'Universita degli Ebrei di Ferrara." Led by Isaac Ben Judah Abravanel (grandson of the biblical commentator) the community was run by eighteen delegates (later increased to 62) chosen by lot. Each member who possessed more than fifty scudi was obliged to contribute to the communal funds, and a commission of eight members was appointed to establish the sum to be raised and oversee its collection.
From 1598 to 1796 Ferrara was subject to the papacy, so that any regulations passed by the Universita had to be published under papal auspices. Besides ordinary taxes, the community had to pay rents for houses in the ghetto, whether inhabited or not, and whether or not the tenants themselves could afford to pay. Increasing poverty required increasing sums for charity, taxes rose, and many wealthy people left the city. Regulations were passed to prevent anyone from removing his wealth from the city without permission, and a 2% tax was passed on the property of those who left. Beneath the text of each regulation, is a tally of the commision's vote in passing the measure.
While the text of the regulations is in Italian, many times, the pamphlets have additions in Hebrew emphasizing the importance of certain individual regulations and warning of the excommunication (herem) of anyone who failed to adhere to them. The formal Hebrew decree of excommunication appended to these regulations served both to emphasize the authority of the "Universita" and to insure that no individual could evade the regulation by professing ignorance of the Italian language. Among the promulgators of these writs of excommunication was R. Isaac Lampronti, communal leader and author of the encyclopedic Pahad Yitzhak.