The impact of medievalism on Jewish life had far less to do with altering the inner life of the Jews and far more to do with recreating their place in European society. At the close of the middle ages, Jews no longer became part of general European society, but rather, existed in a distinct category outside of the general population. Their inner life remained rich and independent of the effects of medievalism in the outer world. Communal organization, social morality, home life, customs, and the role of the synagogue are explored thoroughly in this work as are the effects of the ghetto on creating a Jewish ‘nationalism'.
the Author -- Jewish Life In The Middle Ages
Israel Abrahams ---
Israel Abrahams, M.A. is the
author of Jewish Life in the Middle Ages, Chapters on Jewish
Literature, The Foundation of Jewish Life Three Studies, and By-Paths
in Hebraic Bookland.
Thus Jewish life was not narrow, though its locale was
limited. As a legalized institution the ghetto itself was
unknown till the beginning of the sixteenth century, the
Venetian and Roman ghettos being erected almost contemporaneously
at that period. Hence the predominance
of the synagogue in medieval Judaism cannot be altogether
attributed to the isolation of Jews from the social
life of their contemporaries. There were, indeed, influences
enough at work to drive the Jews from the world.
For centuries they were legally barred from professional
careers and honourable trades, though individual Jews
contrived to overleap the barriers; they were forced to
become usurers, though at first fully conscious of the
obloquy attaching to a traffic banned by the Church and
despised by the men of honour of all peoples in all ages.
The cruellest result which persecution worked was to
produce insensibility to this obloquy on the part of many
Israelites. But all these attempts to isolate the Jews from
the rest of mankind only partially succeeded.
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