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Jeffrey R. Woolf

In The Fabric of Religious Life in Medieval Ashkenaz, Jeffrey R. Woolf presents the first integrated presentation of the ideals and beliefs that comprised the self-image and worldview of Ashkenazic Jews in the Central and High Middle Ages (900-1300). Through careful examination of a wide range of sources (legal, customal, liturgical, artistic), Woolf shows how religious practice played a dual role in creating and sustaining Jewish life in a hostile environment. They instilled these values, and recast religious traditions to reflect them.

The author demonstrates how hitherto underappreciated ideals such as Purity, Sanctity, and a palpable sense of Divine In-Dwelling played a central role in Ashkenazic religiousity and merged to form the texture, or the "Sacred Canopy," of their lives.