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Archive for Middle Ages

A Possible “Feminist” Reading in a Genizah Fragment

The Fragment of the Month from the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Project: In this fragment the anonymous commentator explains to his (most probably male) readers: ‘There is nothing that satisfies her more than that you will listen to her’. The commentator supports his argument with reference to the Jewish sources of Late Antiquity, the Mishna, and […]

Did Rabbi Meir of Rothenberg Refuse Release from Prison

One of the most important figures in Jewish history during the Middle Ages is Rabbi Meir of Rothenberg (Maharam), author of hundreds of responsa and communal leader. A tragic episode of his life is his imprisonment (1286) after a failed attempt to flee Germany, his eventual death in prison (1293), and that it was forbidden […]

New Book: Practicing Piety in Medieval Ashkenaz

I can’t wait to get my hands on this new book by Elisheva Baumgarten, Practicing Piety in Medieval Ashkenaz: Men, Women, and Everyday Religious Observance. In the urban communities of medieval Germany and northern France, the beliefs, observances, and practices of Jews allowed them to create and define their communities on their own terms as […]

Book Reviews on Non-Jews in Ancient Rabbinic Culture and Medieval Ashkenaz

The blog of the Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization has posted two recent book reviews that may be of interest. The first is a review of Jenny Labendz’s Socratic Torah: Non-Jews in Rabbinic Intellectual Culture. In Socratic Torah, Jenny Labendz sets out to challenge assumptions of insularity and parochialism among the rabbis of […]

Pictures of the Oldest Sefer Torah

Below are some pictures of what is possibly the oldest Sefer Torah. The pictures are from this article from the Huffington Post in Italian and the Ansa news agency. HT to the person who discovered the Sefer Torah, Mauro Perani, who posted a link on Facebook.

Video on Illustrated Haggadot

Watch this short video (Hebrew) on illustrated Haggadot. (HT to LJ on FB)

Summary of Ashkenaz at the Crossroads of Cultural Transfer

For those who weren’t able to attend the conference on “Ashkenaz at the Crossroads of Cultural Transfer” that was held this Fall in Germany, a summary of the conference proceedings has been posted online. (here) It looks like it was a very good conference with a wide variety of topics addressed, and I hope to […]

Hebrew in Medieval Europe

In Haaretz there is an article by Ephraim Shoham-Steiner that describes the mounting evidence for the use of Hebrew in the public sphere in Medieval Europe. Shoham-Steiner discussed a number of important archaeological discoveries in Germany, among them the “Hebrew Cesspit” discovered in Cologne, and over a thousand tombstones with Hebrew inscriptions from Wurzberg. The […]

Learn the Basics of Palaeography

The Institute for Historical Research, which is associated with the University of London, is offering a free online course in Palaeography. (HT: PhiloBiblos) Medievalists have always found it difficult to interact with primary sources from their period of study due to a lack of training in palaeography (and manuscript studies), that is to say, the […]

Symposium on the Medieval Hebrew Manuscript Today

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