Medieval Jewish History
Alanna E. Cooper
Introduction: Temporal and Geographic Parameters
- Definition of the Jewish Middle Ages provided by Ivan Marcus in The State of Jewish Studies, ed. Shaye Cohen 1990 (course pack, p.__)
- "Ghetto and Emancipation," Salo Baron, Menorah Journal, June 1928 (course pack, p.__)
Please read Salo Baron's article, "Ghetto and Emancipation" in preparation for our first session together. Although this article, written in 1928 is dated, it provides a valuable introduction for our semester. As you read, pay attention to the following:
- The broad, general points about how Jews fared in the Middle Ages
- The stereotypes and images often associated with the terms "Medieval" and "Middle Ages" (which Baron works to un-do)
- The ways in which an understanding of general history can provide a clearer picture of the experiences that were particular to the Jews.
- Finally: In the last part of the article (p.524 to the end), Baron describes the ways in which present circumstances shape the way the past is understood. We will re-visit this important lesson over the course of the semester as we focus not only on what happened in the past, but also on the way in which our reading of the past is informed by the situations we face in the present.