Spotlighting Sukkot: Publication on the architectural history of the sukkah by Shulamit Laderman (2019)

Tractate on Sukkot, Isaiah de Trani the Younger, Pisqey Isaiah (Italy, 1374)
© British Library Board, London, ms or. 5024 fol. 70v.
Decorated initial-word panel accompanied with a partial foliate border with an illustration of the sukkah (booth for Sukkot) and a man holding a lulav branch and an etrog (a species of citrus).

“The architectural history of the sukkah awaits full exposition. The present article focuses on the earliest images of sukkot in medieval Hebrew manuscripts from Europe, which I set within the context of rabbinic tradition up to that time…

The sukkah’s distinctive characteristics are clearly evident in images found in liturgical manuscript codices (mahzorim, plural of mahzor, the Hebrew word for “cycles” – prayer books with the special liturgy for the festivals) from the thirteenth through the fifteenth centuries. These illuminated manuscripts include legal guidance for the construction of the sukkah and special piyyutim, liturgical poems, written for the holiday, as well as illustrations decorating the texts.”

Shulamit Laderman, “The Sukkah as Sacred Architecture” in Jewish Religious Architecture: From Biblical Israel to Modern Judaism, ed. Steven Fine (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2019), 352–368. doi:

Moadim LeSimcha!

Podcast: Jews of Medieval England

For the Five Minute Medievalist podcast, Dr Adrienne Williams Boyarin talks on the topic of ‘Christians and Jews in 13th-century England’. Her book, ‘The Christian Jew and the Unmarked Jewess: The Polemics of Sameness in Medieval English Anti-Judaism’ has recently been published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.

New Exhibition by the Cologne MiQua & Kolumba Team: Into the Expanse

From 15 September 2021 to 15 August 2022 visitors of Cologne can see the exhibition “Into the Expanse. Aspects of Jewish Life in Germany.” The MiQua and Kolumba, Art Museum of the Archdiocese of Cologne, set up this exhibition showing “works from Kolumba’s collection as well as around 100 objects from German museums and international loans. They will enter into dialogue with Kolumba’s artworks in a unique experiment. Among the objects are such high-ranking pieces as the oldest surviving copy of the law of 321, made available by the Vatican Library (on view only until 11th October!). In addition, the Amsterdam Machsor, one of the highlight exhibits in the future MiQua, will be on display. The former synagogue in Niederzissen with its completely preserved genizah, i.e. a room for the storage of Jewish liturgical writings, will be our guest for the entire exhibition time. This is the first time that the genizah is presented in a museum.”

YouTube Lecture – The Cloisters and the Jews in Medieval Spain: A Conversation on Art, Literature, and History

Julia Perratore the curator of the new exhibit at the Cloisters Spain, 1000-1200: Art at the Frontiers of Faith leads a conversation about the history and cultures of Jews in medieval Iberia, contextualizing the exhibit. Katrin Kogman-Appel discusses medieval art and architecture from this period, Jonathan Ray the social and cultural contexts of different strata of Jewish society, and Peter Cole shares his insights into literary culture, reading also several poems from Iberia he translated.

Art Installations in the Medieval Mikveh and Old Synagogue of Erfurt

Veit Goßler, „Reflektionen“ (Reflections), September 19 to October 15, 2021.


For the 10th anniversary of the public presentation of the medieval mikveh in Erfurt, art moves into medieval buildings. Starting on September 19, 2021, Erfurt artist Veit Goßler is presenting his installations “Reflektionen” (Reflections), created especially for this occasion, in the mikveh and Old Synagogue.

They directly refer to each architectural element: Through the elements of water and light, the mikveh, once fed by living water, is revived. The central location of the Old Synagogue, the bima, the place of the Torah reading, is marked and reinterpreted by the light installation.

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Uri Zvi Shachar, A Pious Belligerence: Dialogical Warfare and the Rhetoric of Righteousness in the Crusading Near East (University of Pennsylvania Press, September 2021)

In A Pious Belligerence Uri Zvi Shachar examines one of the most contested and ideologically loaded issues in medieval history, the clash between Christians, Muslims, and Jews that we call the Crusades. Shachar demonstrates how in chronicles, apocalyptic treatises, and a variety of literary texts in Latin, French, Arabic, Hebrew, and Judeo-Arabic holy warriors are increasingly presented as having been rhetorically and anthropologically shaped through their contacts with their neighbors and adversaries.

Researcher of the Week

Bakinaz Abdalla, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion
University of Birmingham

“I am interested in Jewish and Islamic thought in the medieval period. I earned my Ph.D. from McGill University in 2019, where I wrote a dissertation on the reception of the philosophy of the Muslim philosopher Averroes (12th century) by the 13th-century Jewish Averrosit philosopher Isaac Albalag. The main source I have worked on is Albalag’s Sefer Tiqqun ha de’ot [the Emendation of the Doctrine], which is a Hebrew translation, with commentarial notes, of the encyclopedic treatise Maqasid al Falasifa by the Muslim theologian Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d. 1111). My book, “One Truth or Two? Jewish Averroists of the Truth of the Philosophers and the Truth of the Prophets: The Case of Isaac Albalag” (contracted with Brill) provides a comprehensive study of Albalag’s thought, focusing on his unusual view of the relationship between Judaism and philosophy which accorded him a reputation of being a proponent of the double truth doctrine.

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Online Lecture: “The Rise of the Rabbis” by Simcha Gross Thursday, October 21, 2021, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EDT

Zoom Link to be provided (password required)


The rabbis featured in the Babylonian Talmud are typically imagined as constituting a centralized movement centered around a few large institutions (yeshivot), and serving as the official expositors of proper Jewish behavior among the Jews of the time.

In recent years, scholars have begun to challenge this portrait, arguing instead that the rabbis’ activities were decentralized, deinstitutionalized, heterogenous, and local in nature. Formal academies and the centralization of the movement happened later, when post-talmudic attitudes were retrojected onto the talmudic past.

This talk explores the social and cultural worlds of the rabbis of the Talmud and how they emerged as the dominant stream of Jewish practice and tradition.

Researcher of the Week

Anna Rich-Abad, PhD

Assistant Professor, Medieval History
University of Nottingham (UK)


“The focus of my research is the Jewish community of Barcelona, and I work mainly with notarial records that contain important information about private economic transactions not only between Jews and Christians as the law required, but also between Jews themselves. The integration of medieval Jews into a Latinate notarial culture has been previously noted by historians, and there is a considerable body of research on the 13th and early 14th centuries, during a period that has been considered the Golden Age of the Jews in the Crown of Aragon. There is less work done for the late 14th century, particularly for Barcelona in the period between the Black Death and the general riots of 1391 that precipitated the disappearance of its community. This is my main chronological scope.

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Y. Tzvi Langermann’s new book is released: In and Around Maimonides

Eight highly focused studies on Maimonides and those around him.

Recently published by Gorgias Press.

Discount available for Blog readers.

(, add the book to your cart and then, on checkout, simply add this coupon code MJSNOW40 to the ‘Discount Code’ box (bottom left), and then select ‘Apply Coupon’. The code will turn blue when it is successfully applied.
The coupon is valid from today until the end of the month as from October 1st the book will be 40% off in our annual sale, so from that date the discount is automatic (no coupon needed).

Book Chapter: Medieval Winchester Jewry

Dr Toni Griffiths’s article ‘The Early Jewish Community in Twelfth-Century Winchester: An Interdisciplinary View’ has been published in ‘Early Medieval Winchester: Communities, Authority and Power in an Urban Space, c.800-c.1200’, ed. Ryan Lavell, Simon Roffey and Katherine Weikert. This follows in a long tradition of producing local studies of medieval Anglo-Jewish community, with an interdisciplinary twist.

Online lecture: 14th-Century Inscribed Slate Tablets from the Jewish Quarter of Cologne by Malin Drees and Max Holfelder, 7 September, 7:30 p.m (in German)

During excavations in the medieval Jewish quarter in Cologne (2007-2020), numerous fragments of slate tablets with inscriptions were recovered, especially from the layer of destruction dating to 1349. The tablets offer unusual insights into the everyday life of Cologne Jews of the 14th century, as they contain texts and scribblings not intended for long-term storage. The majority of the graffiti uses Hebrew script. This unusual corpus includes writing exercises and concepts for illuminated manuscripts, tokens and an ancient Yiddish knight tale, as well as lists of names indicating financial transactions. This lecture will present these outstanding finds and exemplify some tablets and their significance.

The lecture will start at 7:30 pm. For the access link, please register at

Continue reading Online lecture: 14th-Century Inscribed Slate Tablets from the Jewish Quarter of Cologne by Malin Drees and Max Holfelder, 7 September, 7:30 p.m (in German)

Call for applications: Sangalli Institute Award for Religious History 2021

The Sangalli Institute invites young researchers to apply for the “Sangalli Institute Award for the Religious History 2021”, to publish two original monographs concerning the religious history from Middle Ages to the Contemporary Era, in an inter-disciplinary and inter-religious perspective. The monographs will appear in a peer-reviewed book series of the Firenze University Press.

Deadline: 1 November 2021

Online Talk “From Convivencia to Entanglement: Interpreting Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Retellings of the Hebrew Bible in Medieval Iberia”, 28 September 2021

by David Wacks (Eugene), Commentor: Matthias M. Tischler (Barcelona)

This is the first session of the New Online Seminar Series by the German Historical Institutes of Paris and Rome “Euro-Mediterranean Entanglements in Medieval History”. Seminars are to take place every 2 months during the academic year 2021/2022. They are aimed at both young and established scholars from all medieval disciplines. The intention is to create an international and interdisciplinary forum where diverse topics and methodological approaches can be presented and discussed.