Rituals of Childhood: Jewish Acculturation in Medieval Europe / Edition 1

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"As a piece of scholarship . . . Rituals of Childhood is impeccable. . . . As a piece of anthropological reconstruction it makes for compelling reading."-Haim Chertok, Jerusalem Post Literary Supplement

"An important work, both instructive and entertaining. Marcus presents new information and ideas that can be enjoyed by the general reading public as well as scholars in the field of Judaica. . . . This work is well written, thoughtful, and fascinating."-James Seaver, History: Reviews of New Books

"An extremely important landmark in the scholarly study of Jewish-Ashkenazic folklore . . . an exemplary, classic work."-Israel Ta-Shma, The Jewish Quarterly Review

In this novel interpretation of the initiation rite of Jewish boys beginning their religious schooling, Ivan G. Marcus presents a new anthropological historical approach to Jewish culture and acculturation in medieval Christian Europe. Marcus shows how Jews polemically transformed Christian religious symbols into Jewish counterimages to affirm the truth of Judaism and make sense of living in an intensely Christian culture.

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Editorial Reviews

Marcus (Jewish history and religious studies, Yale U.) provides a new anthropological interpretation of the complex rite of passage by which a Medieval Jewish boy would begin his religious schooling. He unravels the Jewish and Greco-Roman elements; compares contemporary Christian rites and images; and draws on narrative, legal, poetic, ethnographic, and pictorial resources as well as first-hand accounts. Includes 70 pages of back matter. The CiP subtitle reads "Jewish Culture and Acculturation in the Middle Ages." Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300076585
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 204
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Introduction: Ritual and Medieval Jewish Cultural History 1
2 The Initiation Rite 18
3 Ancient Jewish Pedagogy 35
4 Food Magic and Mnemonic Gestures 47
5 Symbolic Readings 74
6 Childhood Initiations into Religious Cultures 102
Notes 129
Bibliography 161
Index 183
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