Regional Identities and Cultures of Medieval Jews

Edited by Javier Castano, Talya Fishman, and Ephraim Kanarfogel

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ISBN: 9781906764678

Publication: May 31, 2018

Series: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

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Though the existence of Jewish regional cultures is widely known, the origins of the most prominent groups, Ashkenaz and Sepharad, are poorly understood, and the rich variety of other regional Jewish identities is often overlooked. Yet all these subcultures emerged in the Middle Ages. Scholars contributing to the present study were invited to consider how such regional identities were fashioned, propagated, reinforced, contested, and reshaped—and to reflect on the developments, events, or encounters that made these identities manifest. They were asked to identify how subcultural identities proved to be useful, and the circumstances in which they were deployed. The resulting volume spans the ninth to the sixteenth centuries, and explores Jewish cultural developments in western Europe, the Balkans, North Africa, and Asia Minor. In its own way, each contribution considers factors—demographic, geographical, historical, economic, political, institutional, legal, intellectual, theological, cultural, and even biological—that led medieval Jews to conceive of themselves, or to be perceived by others, as bearers of a discrete Jewish regional identity. Notwithstanding the singularity of each essay, they collectively attest to the inherent dynamism of Jewish regional identities.

Ephraim Kanarfogel: E. Billi Ivry University Professor of Jewish History, Literature and Law at Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, Yeshiva University. Leading expert in the fields of medieval Jewish history and rabbinic literature; an ordained rabbi and Torah scholar. Author of numerous books, including 'Between Rashi and Maimonides: Studies in Medieval Jewish Thought, Literature, and Exegesis' (2010); 'The Intellectual History and Rabbinic Culture of Medieval Ashkenaz' (2012)

Javier Castaño: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC).

Talya Fishman: Associate Professor of Jewish Intellectual and Cultural History of the Medieval and Early Modern Periods, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania. Author of 'Becoming the People of the Talmud: Oral Torah as Written Tradition in Medieval Jewish Cultures' (2013).

List of Contributors
Note on Transliteration

Introduction - Talya Fishman

Part I. Identity Claims
1.  The Emergence of the Medieval Jewish Diaspora(s) of Europe from the Ninth to the Twelfth Centuries, with Some Thoughts on Historical DNA Studies - Michael Toch
2. Medieval Jewish Legends on the Decline of the Babylonian Centre and the Primacy of Other Geographical Centres - Avraham Grossman

Part II. The Impact of Non-Jewish Cultures on Regional Traditions
3. The Sacrifice of the Souls of the Righteous upon the Heavenly Altar: Transformations of Apocalyptic Traditions in Medieval Ashkenaz - Paul Mandel
4. The Bifurcated Legacy of Rabbi Moses Hadarshan and the Rise of Peshat Exegesis in Medieval France - Hananel Mack
5. A New Look at Medieval Jewish Exegetical Constructions of Peshat in Christian and Muslim Lands: Rashbam and Maimonides - Mordechai Z. Cohen
6. The ‘Our Talmud’ Tradition and the Predilection for Works of Applied Law in Early Sephardi Rabbinic Culture - Talya Fishman

Part III. Geopolitical Boundaries and Their Impact on Jewish Regional Identities
7. From Germany to Northern France and Back Again: A Tale of Two Tosafist Centres - Ephraim Kanarfogel
8. Rabbinic Politics, Royal Conquest, and the Creation of a Halakhic Tradition in Medieval Provence - Pinchas Roth
9. Mediterranean Regionalism in Hebrew Panegyric Poetry - Jonathan Decter
10. Framings of Sephardi Identity in Ashkenazi Prayer Books - Elisabeth Hollender
11. Minhag and Migration: Yiddish Custom Books from Sixteenth-Century Italy - Lucia Raspe

Part IV. Cultural Content as a Marker of Jewish Regional Identities
12. A Collection of Jewish Philosophical Prayers - Y. Tzvi Langermann
13. Prophets and Their Impact in the High Middle Ages: A Subculture of Franco-German Jewry - Moshe Idel


Format: Hardback

Size: 235 x 155 mm

320 Pages

ISBN: 9781906764678

Publication: May 31, 2018

Series: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

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