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CHAPTER VIII SUPERCOMMUNITY

by Salo W. Baron
CHAPTER VIII SUPERCOMMUNITY IKE THE medieval city, the Jewish community usually had definite boundaries. For the most part, they did not spread beyond the city limits. Sometimes the community extended over the entire city area, but more fre-quently it was confined to a special quarter, the ghetto. Whether self- imposed or compulsory, such a Jewish quarter resembled a miniature town, often being separated by a wall from other sections of the city. Sometimes, however, the com-munity transcended city boundaries, embracing also Jews living nearby and too sparsely settled to organize a commu-nity of their own. Such Jews participated in the benefits of the larger community, frequented the communal synagogue at least on high holidays, made use of the community’s schools, courts and cemetery. The cemetery was, indeed, the most frequent criterion of communal allegiance. Since the possession of a graveyard was contingent upon a special privilege, usually extended only to larger communities, the Jews of an entire district, often a whole province, were forced to belong to such a central community. Such affiliation need not have been exclusive. For ex-ample, the Jews of a large part of Bavaria possessed only one central cemetery in Ratisbon. Containing the remains of many generations of pious and learned men, it became the focus of legends and the center of pilgrimages from the entire province. Nevertheless, local communities possessed a large degree of independence, and individuals owed their 283 L   C h a p t e r Home  | T O C For use on stand- alone, non- institutional computers only. To purchase Scholar PDF version with advanced functionality, go to www. publishersrow. com

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CHAPTER VIII SUPERCOMMUNITY IKE THE medieval city, the Jewish community usually had definite boundaries. For the most part, they did not spread beyond the city limits. Sometimes the community extended over the entire city area, but more fre-quently it was confined to a special quarter, the ghetto. Whether self- imposed or compulsory, such a Jewish quarter resembled a miniature town, often being separated by a wall from other sections of the city. Sometimes, however, the com-munity transcended city boundaries, embracing also Jews living nearby and too sparsely settled to organize a commu-nity of their own. Such Jews participated in the benefits of the larger community, frequented the communal synagogue at least on high holidays, made use of the community’s schools, courts and cemetery. The cemetery was, indeed, the most frequent criterion of communal allegiance. Since the possession of a graveyard was contingent upon a special privilege, usually extended only to larger communities, the Jews of an entire district, often a whole province, were forced to belong to such a central community. Such affiliation need not have been exclusive. For ex-ample, the Jews of a large part of Bavaria possessed only one central cemetery in Ratisbon. Containing the remains of many generations of pious and learned men, it became the focus of legends and the center of pilgrimages from the entire province. Nevertheless, local communities possessed a large degree of independence, and individuals owed their 283 L < < C h a p t e r >> Home | T O C For use on stand- alone, non- institutional computers only. To purchase Scholar PDF version with advanced functionality, go to www. publishersrow. com
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