Judaism in Practice: From the Middle Ages through the Early Modern Period

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Overview

This collection of original materials provides a sweeping view of medieval and early modern Jewish ritual and religious practice. Including such diverse texts as ritual manuals, legal codes, mystical books, autobiographical writings, folk literature, and liturgical poetry, it testifies to the enormous variety of practices that characterized Judaism in the twelve hundred years between 600 and 1800 C.E. Its focus on religious practice and experience--how Judaism was actually lived by people from day to day--makes this anthology unique among the few sourcebooks available.

The volume encompasses the broad scope and complex texture of Jewish religious practice, taking into account many aspects of Jewish culture that have hitherto been relatively neglected: the religious life of ordinary people, the role and status of women, art and aesthetics, and marginalized as well as remote Jewish communities. It introduces such remarkable personalities as Moses Maimonides, Leon Modena, and Gluckel of Hameln, and presents extraordinary texts on festival practice, Torah study, mystical communities, meditation, exorcism, the practice of charity, and folk rites marking birth and death.

Representing state-of-the-art scholarship by distinguished academics from around the world, the volume includes many materials never before translated into English. Each text is preceded by an accessible introduction, making this book suitable for college and university students as well as a general audience. Whether read as a deliberate course of study or dipped into selectively for a glimpse into fascinating Jewish lives and places, Judaism in Practice holds rich rewards for any reader.

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Editorial Reviews

The Forward
Lawrence Fine . . . has assembled an impressive array of writings that explore the variegated ways in which Jews have practiced their religion. . . . By giving us a variety of texts and materials that go beyond the boundaries of conventional sources, Fine has opened up ways of thinking about the Jewish experience that are likely to challenge readers' expectations. In doing so, he and his contributors raise essential questions about the nature of Judaism as a religion and a culture, shake readers out of complacency and leave us to wonder at the marvelous scope of the Jewish people's history.
"The Forward ry W. Holtz

Lawrence Fine . . . has assembled an impressive array of writings that explore the variegated ways in which Jews have practiced their religion. . . . By giving us a variety of texts and materials that go beyond the boundaries of conventional sources, Fine has opened up ways of thinking about the Jewish experience that are likely to challenge readers' expectations. In doing so, he and his contributors raise essential questions about the nature of Judaism as a religion and a culture, shake readers out of complacency and leave us to wonder at the marvelous scope of the Jewish people's history.
From the Publisher

"Lawrence Fine . . . has assembled an impressive array of writings that explore the variegated ways in which Jews have practiced their religion. . . . By giving us a variety of texts and materials that go beyond the boundaries of conventional sources, Fine has opened up ways of thinking about the Jewish experience that are likely to challenge readers' expectations. In doing so, he and his contributors raise essential questions about the nature of Judaism as a religion and a culture, shake readers out of complacency and leave us to wonder at the marvelous scope of the Jewish people's history."--Barry W. Holtz, The Forward
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691057873
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 10/29/2001
  • Series: Princeton Readings in Religions Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 456
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.22 (d)

Table of Contents


Princeton Readings in Religions vii
Note on Transliteration and Acknowledgments ix
Contributors xv
Introduction by Lawrence Fine 1
Rituals of Daily and Festival Practice
1. Communal Prayer and Liturgical Poetry by Raymond P. Scheindlin 39
2. Italian Jewish Women at Prayer by Howard Tzvi Adelman 52
3. Measuring Graves and Laying Wicks by Chava Weissler 61
4. Adorning the "Bride" on the Eve of the Feast of Weeks by Daniel C. Matt 74
5. New Year's Day for Fruit of the Tree by Miles Krassen 81
Rituals of the Life Cycle
6. The Role of Women at Rituals of Their Infant Children by Lawrence A. Hoffman 99
7. Honey Cakes and Torah: A Jewish Boy Learns His Letters by Ivan G. Marcus 115
8. Women and Ritual Immersion in Medieval Ashkenaz: The Sexual Politics of Piety by Judith R. Baskin 131
9. Life-Cycle Rituals of Spanish Crypto Jewish Women by Renee Levine Melammed 143
10. Ritualizing Death and Dying: The Ethical Will of Naphtali Ha-Kohen Katz by Avriel Bar-Levav 155
Torah, Learning, and Ethics
11. Moses Maimonides' Laws of the Study of Torah by Lawrence Kaplan 171
12. An Egyptian Woman Seeks to Rescue Her Husband from a Sufi Monastery by S. D. Goitein 186
13. A Monastic-like Setting for the Study of Torah by Ephraim Kanarfogel 191
14. Religious Practice among Italian Jewish Women by Howard Tzvi Adelman 203
15. A Mystical Fellowship in Jerusalem by Lawrence Fine 210
16. The Love of Learning among Polish Jews by Gershon David Hundert 215
Religious Sectarianism and Communities on the Margins
17. Jewish Sectarianism in the Near East: A Muslim's Account by Steven M. Wasserstrom 229
18. Travel in the Land of Israel by Lawrence Fine 237
19. Karaite Ritual by Daniel Frank 24E 20. Living Judaism in Confucian Culture: Being Jewish and Being Chinese by Jonathan N. Lipman 265
Art and Aesthetics
21. Defending, Enjoying, and Regulating the Visual by Kalman P. Bland 281
22. Illustrating History and Illluminating Identity in the Art of the Passover Haggadah by Marc Michael Epstein 298
23. The Arts of Calligraphy and Composition, and the Love of Books Lawrence Fine 318
24. Jewish Preaching in Fifteenth-Century Spain by Marc Saperstein 325
Magic and Mysticism
25. The Book of the Great Name by Michael D. Swartz 341
26. Visionary Experiences among Spanish Crypto Jewish Women by Renee Levine Melammed 348
27. Mystical Eating and Food Practices in the Zohar by Joel Hecker 353
28. Devotional Rites in a Sufi Mode by Paul B. Fenton 364
29. Pietistic Customs from Safed by Lawrence Fine 375
30. Jewish Exorcism: Early Modem Traditions and Transformations by J. H. Chajes 386
31. Rabbi Menahem Nahum of Chernobyl: Personal Practices of a Hasdic Master by Arthur Green 399
Remarkable Lives
32. The Life of Moses ben Maimon by Joel L. Kraemer 413
33. Dolce of Worms: The Lives and Deaths of an Exemplary Medieval Jewish Woman and Her Daughters by Judith R. Baskin 429
34. The Earliest Hebrew First-Crusade Narrative by Robert Chazan 438
35. Leon Modena's Autobiography by Mark R. Cohen 453
36. The Early Messianic Career of Shabbatai Zvi by Matt Goldish 470
37. The Life of Glikl of Hameln by Paula E. Hyman 483
38. Israel ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov by Dan Ben-Amos 498
39. The Scholarly Life of the Gaon of Vilna by Allan Nadler 513
Appendix. The Jewish Holidays 521
Index 523
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