In recent years, pre-modern beds have generated extensive scholarly interest. Their social, religious, and economic importance has been rightfully highlighted in the study of domestic piety. Yet, concern has primarily focused on beds in late medieval English homes. This essay uses Hebrew texts from thirteenth-century Southern Germany, primarily Sefer Hasidim, to further this analysis of the role of the bed in shaping medieval domestic devotion. Jewish notions about the social, moral, and sexual significance of the bed reflect those identified in late medieval Christian culture. These ideas inspired numerous rituals practiced in Jewish homes. Yet, the bed and the remnants of sex assumed to be found in it also frustrated Jewish attempts to perform domestic devotion. These findings highlight the complicated nature of the home and how medieval people had to navigate both its opportunities and challenges in order to foster a rich culture of domestic devotion.
This essay examines similarities between the Hebrew chronicle of Shlomo bar Shimshon and the Latin chronicle of Albert of Aachen. Both sources describe the massacre of Rhineland Jews during the First Crusade and the subsequent defeat of the Crusaders by the Hungarians and the Bulgarians. On the basis of similarities in structure, content, and language between these two accounts, I argue that Shlomo chose to integrate at least one Christian source into his narrative. At the same time, I assert that it is unlikely that Shlomo’s Hebrew account was translated directly from Albert’s Latin chronicle. I present evidence indicating that the information conveyed in the Latin text reached the Jewish chronicler via vernacular channels, either oral or written. This is a pre-print of an article published in Jewish History. The final authenticated version is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10835-018-9288-2
This article discusses the ways scholars have outlined the process of Jewish adaptation (or lack of it) from their Christian surroundings in northern Europe during the High Middle Ages. Using the example of penitential fasting, the first two sections of the article describe medieval Jewish practices and some of the approaches that have been used to explain the similarity between medieval Jewish and contemporary Christian customs. The last two sections of the article suggest that in addition to looking for texts that connect between Jewish and Christian thought and beliefs behind these customs, it is useful to examine what medieval Jews and Christians saw of each other's customs living in close urban quarters. Finally, the article suggests that when shaping medieval Jewish and Christian identity, the differences emphasized in shared everyday actions and visible practice were no less important than theological distinctions. As part of the discussion throughout the article, the terminology used by scholars to describe the process of Jewish appropriation from the local surroundings is described, focusing on terms such as “influence” and “inward acculturation,” as well as “appropriation.”
Summary This article focuses on a chapter in a manual on circumcision written in Worms in the thirteenth century by Jacob and Gershom haGozrim (the circumcisers). The third chapter of the manual contains medical instruction on how to attend to women in labour and other gynaecological conditions. Whereas the first two chapters of the manual were published in the late nineteenth century, the midwifery chapter has only been recently examined. This article is comprised of a translation of the midwifery text(s) along with an introduction to the text and the community practices it reflects. It outlines the cooperation between medical practitioners, male and female, Jewish and Christian, and discusses the medical remedies recommended and some practices current in thirteenth-century Germany.
AbstractThe discovery of pawned objects in treasure troves attributed to Jews enables investigation of the use and understanding of these objects by Jews, especially regarding those of a more secular nature, i.e. objects that have little relationship to Jewish or Christian liturgy and that lack explicit Jewish or Christian religious iconography or inscriptions. One of these pawned objects is a girdle, which was found in a Jewish context in Erfurt. Through examining this girdle in the context of similar imagery in Jewish art, we see that Jews were not only exposed to such girdles but also were well aware of their symbolic meaning in noble love and romance.