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  • YU Blogs

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    Original URL path: (2013-02-13)

  • YU Blogs « YU Blogs

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    Original URL path: /blog/2012/05/03/yu-blogs/ (2013-02-13)

  • Alumni News

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    Original URL path: /alumni-news/ (2013-02-13)

  • Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration

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    Original URL path: /azrieli/ (2013-02-13)

  • CPA Blog

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    Original URL path: /cpa/ (2013-02-13)

  • The Blog of the Center for Jewish Law
    to emphasize that most of the works were in German 60 out of the 78 or nearly 77 An explanation Deutsch repeats throughout his book for this phenomenon is that while the Jews were banished from other lands in Western Europe there was a continuous Jewish presence in large parts of Germany Put differently one of the catalysts behind the genre in question was the presence of Jews This is not quite correct There was also a continuous Jewish presence in the Italian states in this period overall at least corresponding to the situation among the German states but with comparatively few contributions to the genre 7 Nevertheless only two volumes in Italian are on Deutsch s main list of ethnographies three if you include Leone Modena s work written very much from within the Jewish community While Deutsch comes up with a few features that distinguish the situation in the various German principalities from the other emerging nation states of Western Europe lack of an overseas empire the supposedly greater interest in Hebrew among Protestant intellectuals than Catholic ones proximity of large Protestant and Catholic communities to each other neither individually nor together do these criteria explain the emergence and flowering of this genre A list of ingredients without actually explaining how they should be prepared and cooked together does not a dish make Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Deutsch s story however is not why this genre emerged during this time but who wrote these works because the clear majority of authors were former Jews Out of the 60 authors all of whom identify as Christian 40 of them almost two two thirds were converts Conversion from Judaism hardly cleared a path to social advancement as we learn from Elisheva Carlebach s Divided Souls 8 and so a fuller understanding of what purposes any of these works served would have necessitated putting them in greater context This leads us to the other main omission in Deutsch s account namely the isolation of these works from their context and impact Deutsch s work is an example of a particular kind of intellectual history Intellectual history of course covers a multitude of sins and there are a wide variety of ways to practice it 9 In one of its most common forms it focuses on what books and ideas can reveal about a particular time and place The fruits of this approach come out in Deutsch s contention that despite their anti Jewish aims which Carlebach puts more emphasis on many of the descriptions of Jewish rituals in the ethnographies were accurate thus staking a claim for the growth of a new and influential kind of scholarly examination of religious ritual in this period While admiring his care in individually and comparatively assessing this growing genre one wishes Deutsch had placed the works in more of a German or European context Admittedly this is a tall order The books Deutsch surveys span chronologically and spatially early modern Western Europe He notes the multiple editions of many of the important titles and how well they sold compared other early modern Hebraist works that have also recently received much attention However he doesn t actually examine the personal social or political impact or reception of these works We are not given examples of whether the reading or even the writing of the books changed the outlooks of their readers or authors nor whether they featured in the debates about toleration or the other theological and political debates of the period For if they did this is surely significant And if they did not this is also significant and speaks as well to questions about how customs and laws change under the impact of reportage and scholarly study or do not By not examining the impact of these volumes on a personal individual or any larger political debate the author undercuts his own case for the importance of his subject This is unfortunate since the transitions in the literature which Deutsch carefully tracks coincide with epic shifts in how religion was conceptualized and how minorities were treated yet the legal political and social connections between any of these societal changes and the polemical ethnographies are not examined Perhaps there were examples of marginalia by readers of these works which Deutsch could have shown us Or Deutsch could have looked more closely at the political relations of the authors of some of these works like Lancelot Addison for instance Anglican minister and author of The Present State of the Jews 1675 Addison served in various positions while residing in Tangier and gathering the material that would make up his contribution to the emerging ethnographical genre He also had extensive connections to the emerging British state and it is hard to believe his historical and ethnographic work on Jews and Muslims was not connected to his conservative ideology and political efforts Despite these criticisms Deutsch s comprehensive collection and broad survey will surely be of use to scholars of early modern Jewry and early modern religion for a long time to come The tighter integration of Deutsch s story with the larger currents of early modern German and European history would have only lent his perceptive observations more power The questions his work raises about the shifts in the conceptualization and description of Judaism and religion in this period demonstrate once again the significance of early modern transformations to our own ideas and habits today 1 Deutsch also makes use of the only two works in this genre from this period written by Jews Leon Modena s Historia de gli riti Hebraici Paris 1637 which was translated into English by the music theorist and roving scholar Edmund Chilmead and published in London in 1650 as The history of the rites customes and manner of life of the present Jews throughout the world and David Levy s A Succint Account of the Rites and Ceremonies of the Jews London 1780 as well as 12 separate

    Original URL path: (2013-02-13)
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  • Faculty News Blog

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    Original URL path: /facultynews/ (2013-02-13)

  • Health Alerts Blog

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    Original URL path: /healthalerts/ (2013-02-13)