“Between Cross and Crescent”
“The Ashkenazic Family in the Middle Ages”
In recent years scholarship has focused on
gender, the place of women in medieval Jewish society and the nature of family
The results are already dramatic. In the
Islamic world, thanks to the Cairo Geniza, Jewish women appear frequently as
merchants and bread winners.
Unfortunately, in Northern Europe there is
no geniza, so source material for reconstructing the lives of these women and
their families is not easily available. Still much can be gleaned from
rabbinical legal works and especially responsa.
We reference two textual works to
illustrate issues of family dynamics and sexual attitudes and behavior. One
source is an ethical will written
by an Ashkenazic Jew in Mainz in the middle of the 14th century. We know
nothing of this man other than this will. The second is a commentary written by
a 13th century Provencal Jew offering a remarkable comparison between the
sexual behavior of Christian men and women and Jewish men and women, at least
as he perceived it. This is an astonishingly overt document that would raise an
eyebrow even in our day.
All are welcome to join us for discussion.
Facilitator: Faith Krasnow
Meeting ID: 258 0409 807