The Fabric of Religious Life in Medieval Ashkenaz (1000-1300)

Creating Sacred Communities


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.
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Biographical Note

Jeffrey R. Woolf, Ph.D. (1991), is Senior Lecturer in Talmud at Bar Ilan University. He has published dozens of studies on the History of Jewish Law, and the Intellectual History of the Medieval Ashkenazic and Renaissance Italian Jewish communities.

Table of contents

Preface Abbreviations Ch. I: Introduction Ch. II: The Community Ch. III: The Synagogue Ch. IV: Purity and Pollution Ch. V: Martyrdom Bibliography


All interested in Medieval Jewish History, Law and Religion in Ashkenaz, both specialists and interested laypersons, and anyone interested in Medieval European Civilization.