Prac­tic­ing Piety in Medieval Ashke­naz: Men, Women, and Every­day Reli­gious Observance

Eli­she­va Baumgarten
  • From the Publisher
December 22, 2014

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 well as in rela­tion to the sur­round­ing Chris­t­ian soci­ety. Although medieval Jew­ish texts were writ­ten by a learned elite, the laity also observed many reli­gious rit­u­als as part of their every­day life. In Prac­tic­ing Piety in Medieval Ashke­naz, Eli­she­va Baum­garten asks how Jews, espe­cial­ly those who were not learned, expressed their belong­ing to a minor­i­ty com­mu­ni­ty and how their con­vic­tions and deeds were made appar­ent to both their Jew­ish peers and the Chris­t­ian majority.

Prac­tic­ing Piety in Medieval Ashke­naz pro­vides a social his­to­ry of reli­gious prac­tice in con­text, par­tic­u­lar­ly with regard to the ways Jews and Chris­tians, sep­a­rate­ly and joint­ly, treat­ed their male and female mem­bers. Medieval Jews often shared prac­tices and beliefs with their Chris­t­ian neigh­bors, and numer­ous notions and norms were appro­pri­at­ed by one com­mu­ni­ty from the oth­er. By depict­ing a dynam­ic inter­faith land­scape and a diverse rep­re­sen­ta­tion of believ­ers, Baum­garten offers a fresh assess­ment of Jew­ish prac­tice and the shared ele­ments that com­posed the piety of Jews in rela­tion to their Chris­t­ian neighbors.

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