Jewish life in the middle ages [NOOK Book]


So writes the author in the Introduction to his highly readable history which chronicles and examines the life of European Jews from approximately the late tenth century to the early 1500s. This excerpt represents just one of a multitude of themes expertly woven together by Israel Abrahams (1858-1925), distinguished Rabbinics scholar and former President of the Jewish Historical Society of England.

Topics include the synagogue as the center of social life; communal organization;...

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Jewish life in the middle ages

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NOOK Book (eBook - Digitized from 1896 volume)


So writes the author in the Introduction to his highly readable history which chronicles and examines the life of European Jews from approximately the late tenth century to the early 1500s. This excerpt represents just one of a multitude of themes expertly woven together by Israel Abrahams (1858-1925), distinguished Rabbinics scholar and former President of the Jewish Historical Society of England.

Topics include the synagogue as the center of social life; communal organization; the institution of the ghetto; social morality; love, courtship, and marriage; monogamy and home life; trades and occupations; Jewish dress; marriage customs; private and communal charities; medieval pastimes; and personal relations between Christians and Jews.

A sweeping view of the Jewish historical experience, this volume is essential reading for students, teachers, scholars, and anyone interested in cultural history and Judaica.

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What People Are Saying

Israel Abrahams
"I confess that when I undertook to write of Jewish life in the middle ages, I did so under the impression that Jewish life was everywhere more or less similar, and that it would be possible to present a generic image of it. Deeper research has completely dispelled this belief. Possibly the reader may note with disappointment that my book reveals no central principle, that it is a survey less of Jewish life than of Jewish lives." -- Israel Abrahams
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940019741601
  • Publisher: New York, The Macmillan company; London, Macmillan & co., ltd.
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Digitized from 1896 volume
  • File size: 888 KB

Table of Contents

Preface vii
Introduction xvii
Chapter I The Centre of Social Life 1
Social functions of the synagogue
Relations of the Jewish life to European conditions in the middle ages
The synagogue as a moral agency
Announcements of business transactions during public worship
Jews share one another's joys and sorrows
The wedding odes
Chapter II Life in the Synagogue 15
Attitude of Jews towards the synagogue
Jewish notion of decorum at prayer
Special praying dress
Gossip during divine service
Decay of the sermon in the middle ages
The sale of synagogal 'honours'
Separation of the sexes
Ecclesiastical art
Synagogue architecture, decoration, and music
The synagogal rights of boys
Maintaining discipline
Synagogue and school
Chapter III Communal Organization 35
Rabbis and the civil government
Rabbinical synods
The taxation of the Jews
The poll-tax
Growth of an aristocracy of wealth
Severe treatment of informers by the Jewish authorities
The death penalty
Jewish jurisdiction
Jewish communal officers
Date and method of election
The Shamash and the Schulklopfer
Government by tekanah or voluntary ordinance
Jewish life regulated by a series of such communal ordinances
Chapter IV Institution of the Ghetto 62
Origin of the name 'ghetto'
Jewish tendency to concentrate in separate quarters of the town
Various synonyms for ghetto in Spain and Germany
Motive for founding the ghetto
Ghetto rules and the Jus chazaka or tenant-right
The public bath
The Jews' inn
The dancing-hall
The cemetery or 'House of Life'
Emblems on the tombs
Family vaults
Chapter V Social Morality 83
Domestic virtues of the Jews
The Jewish character
The man and the home
Marital fidelity
Idealization of passion
The marriage of Rabbis
Absentee husbands
The Jewish badge and moral offences
Chapter VI The Slave Trade 96
Cessation of slavery among Jews after the Babylonian exile
The Church and slavery in the middle ages
Jewish slave-dealers and slave-owners
Treatment of slaves
The general subject of social morality resumed: Jews free from serious crimes
Clipping the coinage
Jew and Gentile
Legal fictions
The annulment of vows
Chapter VII Monogamy and the Home 113
Monogamy a Jewish custom in pre-Christian times
Talmudic view of marriage is based on monogamy
Bigamy exceptionally allowed both by Church and Synagogue
Evil influence of Islam
Prevalence of divorce
Parents and children
Jewish salutations and tokens of respect
Home discipline
Religion and the home life
The married Rabbi
Friday night; the meal and the hymns
Coffee and tobacco
Chapter VIII Home Life (continued) 140
Family feasts and fasts
Hospitality and the growth of travelling mendicants
'Commandment meals'
Taxes on hospitality
Stone houses of the Jews
A rich Jew's house in Regensburg in the fifteenth century
Hours for meals on weekdays and festivals
Effects of mysticism on the home life of the Jews
The position of woman
Christians in the service of Jews
Jewish domestics
Effects of persecution
Chapter IX Love and Courtship 163
Hebrew love-poems by Spanish Jews
Satires on women
Growth of child-marriage
The professional matchmaker or Shadchan
Marriage by proxy
Courtship at the fairs
Results of early marriage
The betrothal ceremony
Introduction of the wedding ring
Marriage superstitions
Chapter X Marriage Customs 186
The 'Memory of Zion'
Wedding hymns and epithalamia
The bridal procession
The wreath
Faces nuptiales
Casting nuts and wheat at the bride
Christians employed to provide wedding music on the Sabbath
The Marshallik
The marriage discourse
The chuppa or bridal canopy
Liturgical additions on the occasion of weddings
The well of St. Keyne
The wedding ceremony in the fifteenth century
The Seven Benedictions
Chapter XI Trades and Occupations 211
Benjamin of Tudela and Jewish merchants in the twelfth century
International trade
Jews as commercial intermediaries between the Orient and Europe
Jewish artisans: dyers, silk manufacturers, glass workers, makers of metal implements, printers, cloth manufacturers, dealers in wool
Jerusalem in 1263
Agricultural pursuits
Opposition of the medieval guilds
The Bristol copper trade
Sicilian Jews as makers of agricultural implements
Rabbis as manual workers
Chapter XII Trades and Occupations (continued) 230
Jews prefer employment in which skilled labour is needed
Dangerous occupations
Jews as soldiers and sailors
The East India Company
Jews and Columbus
A 'famous Jewish pirate'
Jews and medicine
A day in the life of Maimonides
Jews forced into the trade in money
Jewish and Christian usurers
A benevolent money-lender, Yechiel of Pisa
Royal usurers
Appendices Occupations of the Jews 245
Chapter XIII The Jews and the Theatre 251
Ancient antipathy to the theatre survives in the middle ages
Music cultivated by medieval Rabbis
Jewish jugglers and liontamers
The stage Jew
Jews forced to supply carnival sports
Carnival plays
The Jews in the Elizabethan drama
Generosity to the Jewess on the stage
Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Lessing
Chapter XIV The Purim-Play and the Drama in Hebrew 260
Dramatic performances in the middle ages
The growth of the Purim-play
Joyous licence in the synagogue
Earliest Purimplays
The drama in Hebrew and its importance in the social life of the Jews
Amsterdam in the seventeenth century
Moses Zacut and Moses Chayim Luzzatto
Chapter XV Costume in Law and Fashion 273
The ethics of dress
The attire of women and the marriage settlements
Covering the head in prayer
Was there a Jewish costume?
Varying costumes of the Jews in different countries
Restrictions on Jewish dress in Mohammedan lands
Eastern fashions
Costumes in illuminated Hebrew MSS
Chapter XVI The Jewish Badge 291
Extravagance in dress and the Italian sumptuary laws
Pope Innocent III introduces the Jewish badge
Motive of the innovation
Shape, size, and colour of the badge in various countries
Crescent and full moon
Two tables of stone
The Jewess' veil
Effects of the badge combined with enforced life in the ghetto
Deterioration in taste
Chapter XVII Private and Communal Charities. The Relief of the Poor 307
The rights of poverty
Itinerant mendicants
Suppression of ostentatious pauperism
Relief in kind, tamchui
Charity and alms-giving
The universality of benevolence
Communal inn
The kupah, or relief in money
Collection and distribution of charitable funds
Periodical assessments and voluntary contributions
The tithe
Circular letters granted in special cases
Chapter XVIII Private and Communal Charity (continued). The Sick and the Captive 324
Growth of benevolent societies
Description of charitable societies in Rome
Visiting the sick
Etiquette in the sick-room
Generosity of Jewish physicians
The Black Death
Burial societies or holy leagues
Ransoming captives
Sufferings of Jewish travellers
Chapter XIX The Medieval Schools 340
The Renaissance and the Jews
The Talmudical scheme of education
The education of girls
Learned women
Use of the vernacular in synagogue
Translations of the prayers
Ceremony of introducing the boy to school
Course of instruction in the elementary schools
The love for books
Verse-writing in Spain
Chapter XX The Scope of Education 357
No learned caste in Judaism
The study of Hebrew grammar
The rise of jargons
Vernacular poetry written by Jews
A Jewish troubadour
Encyclopedic studies in Italy
The German Talmudical schools
Hispano-Jewish culture
The curriculum of the thirteenth century
Theology and philosophy
Ernest Renan and the medieval Jews
Chapter XXI Medieval Pastimes and Indoor Amusements 373
Sabbath recreations
Limited opportunities for athletic exercises
Hunting, riding, duelling, and the tourney
Jews forbidden to bear arms
The games of women
Children's games
Separation of the sexes in amusements
Intellectual games
Legendary lore
Chapter XXII Medieval Pastimes (continued). Chess and Cards 388
Silver chessmen for the Sabbath
Games of chance
Chess as an antidote to gambling
Card-playing in the fifteenth century
Vows of abstinence
Communal enactments against gambling
Parental injunctions in ethical wills
A Jewish card-painter
Chapter XXIII Personal Relations Between Jews and Christians 399
Actual relations different from the legal
Anti-social character of the Church legislation
Prejudice against the Jews not of popular origin
Italian friendliness
Dissent and the Jews
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