What to Expect on Week 3

Next week, we will continue to work on the necessary building blocks that allow us to then examine specific cases of nightlife rituals across the history of the Jewish diaspora. As discussed in class, and as described in our Syllabus, we will focus on the general resources (maps, timelines, etc.) and core concepts that can enable us to study the “cultures of the Jews.”

The syllabus lists the following:

Week 3 | MON 9/15 & WED 9/17
Studying Jewish culture: time, space, language

READING: Biale, Cultures of the Jews (Preface); Idelsohn VII (Prayer Codes p. 56-70); EJ: History: The Middle Ages, and History: Modern Times – to 1880
RESOURCES: Gourmet Ghettos: Modern Food Rituals (@Magnes); jewish-languages.org

As a reminder, Biale and Idelsohn are in bCourses, while the two EJ History entries are in the online Encyclopaedia Judaica.

  • Biale’s article is an excellent introduction to the study of “Jewish cultural history.” Please read it carefully.
  • The two EJ articles give you a sense of the historical development of Jewish communities around the world in early-modern and modern times. There’s a lot there, of course, and you are not required to memorize anything. But please do use these as references to understand the historical flow of Jewish cultural diversity. (Also, check the blog for some additional resources that I will be posting either before the end of today, or on Sunday).
  • Idelsohn’s chapter frames Jewish history and cultural diversity in terms of liturgical literature. As we have discussed and will continue to discuss, liturgy is not only an accurate reflection of Jewish cultural identity–often, throughout history–it actually embodies it, and defines it. (As an example: when you read in the EJ about “ashkenazi” and “sephardic” Jews, keep in mind that ritual, much more than geography, defines the cultural differences between these two Jewish groups…). So, how should you try to read this chapter? Make sure you understand (or “map”) the historical and geographic flow of Jewish ritual diversity. Here, too, check the blog for some additional resources, which, of course, we will discuss in class.

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