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Ilona Steimann

Abstract

This article focuses on the requisite sacred objects utilized in the ceremony of the Jewry-oath in Christian Europe. The objects, upon which Jewry-oaths were taken, were crucial for the oaths’ validity, but their nature and materiality remained invisible in the relevant primary sources. On the basis of the only extant example of such an object, a Hebrew Pentateuch that survived together with a recently-discovered fifteenth-century Nuremberg Jewry-oath, the article addresses Jewish and Christian conceptions of the sacredness of material entities, and elucidates how these conceptions impinged upon the role of the objects in the oath-taking ceremony.

Arnon Atzmon

Abstract

This article focuses on the shifts in the portrayal of Pharaoh in aggadic midrashic compositions, mostly those connected with Exodus 13:17. Tannaitic Midrashim from the Roman period create the motif of “Pharaoh’s repentance.” Aggadic Midrashim from the Byzantine period reject, in turn, this motif. At the end of the Byzantine period, perhaps influenced by the Islamic reading of the biblical Pharaoh, the motif of “Pharaoh’s repentance” returns to the fore and even enjoys some literary development. The dynamic changes that these interpretations underwent reflect shifts in the internal spiritual life of the sages and in their interchanges with the surrounding cultures.

Benjamin Fisher

Abstract

In the early seventeenth century, members of Amsterdam’s Portuguese Jewish community assembled a significant collection of Jewish—and especially Sephardi—literature that served as a crucial resource for scholars, religious leaders, and students. This article explores Jewish and Christian models that may have shaped the project of book collecting; it traces the changing perception of book collecting in the community; and it identifies shifts in the cultural profile of the texts being collected. The arrival of Ashkenazi immigrants fleeing war in eastern Europe spurred the collection of new texts, and the blending of Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jewish cultures.

Katelyn Chin

Gennadiy Vinnitsa

Abstract

The resistance of the Jews of the Eastern Belarus to the Nazi genocide is a chapter of World War II history to which little attention has been paid. This article deals with the position and resistance of the Jewish population of the eastern regions of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR) to the Nazi genocide during the German occupation in 1941–1944. The material presented here is the first attempt towards a comprehensive coverage of the activities of Jews concentrated in places of isolation to resist Nazi actions against the Jewish population. Materials from Belarusian, Israeli, German and Russian archives have substantially supplemented data from the author’s personal archive.