Monthly Archives: October 2021

Researcher of the Week

Miri Fenton

PhD Candidate
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Supervisor: Prof. Elisheva Baumgarten

“My PhD explores the ways in which communal identity was built through complex, nuanced social and legal practices of affiliation. Drawing on my background in philosophy and social theory, I look at medieval everyday life through the prism of collective identity and affiliation and study the variegated ways in which Jewish communities were instantiated in practice. I do this by focusing on non-elite practices rather than institutions or legal mandates for establishing communities.

Continue reading Researcher of the Week

New publication: Translating the Hebrew Bible in Medieval Iberia, by Esperanza Alfonso and Javier del Barco (Brill, 2021)

Translating the Hebrew Bible in Medieval Iberia provides the princeps diplomatic edition and a comprehensive study of Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Hunt. 268. The manuscript, produced in the Iberian Peninsula in the late thirteenth century, features a biblical glossary-commentary in Hebrew that includes 2,018 glosses in the vernacular and 156 in Arabic, and to date is the only manuscript of these characteristics known to have been produced in this region.

New Online Exhibition on the History of the Jews in Medieval Regensburg

This online exhibition is available both in German and English. According to the curators, it guides its visitors “through more than 60 fascinating and high-quality digitised exhibits, [and] explores where Jews lived and shopped, how they earned their living, and their constraints and freedoms in dealings with other Regensburg citizens and people from outside the city. It sets out the rights and obligations that the Jewish community and its members had as residents of the imperial city. A number of individual Jewish people are also presented in the course of the exhibition.”

23rd Arye Maimon Lecture: Prof. Dr. Johannes Heil, Ignatz Bubis Professorship, University of Jewish Studies: “Conspiracies and Other Rumors of the Jews: A Medievalist Look at Contemporary Aberrations” (in German), November 3, 2021, 7 p.m.

Johannes Heil is a historian and has held the Ignatz Bubis Chair of Culture, History and Religion at the Heidelberg University of Jewish Studies since 2005. In 2021/22 he is a fellow at the Historical College Munich. In addition to studies on medieval textual history, he has distinguished himself with works on prejudice and anti-Semitism research. This year’s Arye Maimon lecture will pick up where he left off, asking what medieval studies can yield for dealing with ideas of conspiracy that are currently sprouting up everywhere.

Continue reading 23rd Arye Maimon Lecture: Prof. Dr. Johannes Heil, Ignatz Bubis Professorship, University of Jewish Studies: “Conspiracies and Other Rumors of the Jews: A Medievalist Look at Contemporary Aberrations” (in German), November 3, 2021, 7 p.m.

Online lecture by Vladislav Zeev Slepoy: Guests, Strangers, Others in a Medieval Synagogue (in German), November 2, 7:30 p.m.

On October 5, Vladislav Zeev Slepoy will give a lecture on Guests, Strangers, Others in a Medieval Synagogue. The synagogue was (and remains) the center of Jewish communal life. In the Middle Ages, the synagogue served at the same time as the place of refuge for “strangers” of all kinds: foreign merchants and visitors, the poor, beggars and many other groups of “guests”. Thus, strangers were an integral part of a medieval community. Their position within the community structure was the subject of much debate: What rights did strangers have in a community? Who and from when was obliged to pay taxes? What position did the strangers have in the synagogue and in worship? These and similar questions are discussed in detail in the medieval Jewish sources. In the lecture the position of the strangers will be described and analyzed on the basis of some source texts.

Continue reading Online lecture by Vladislav Zeev Slepoy: Guests, Strangers, Others in a Medieval Synagogue (in German), November 2, 7:30 p.m.

Researchers of the Week

Alexandra Guerson, PhD

Assistant Professor
Teaching Stream, New College
University of Toronto

Dana Wessell Lightfoot, PhD

Associate Professor
Department of History
University of Northern British Columbia

“Our research focuses on exploring Jewish women’s agency in late medieval Girona as their community faced the systemic violence of 1391 and its aftermath. Using notarial records, municipal documents, and royal letters, we investigate the ways that Jewish women worked to protect their families over several generations. We are particularly interested in the experiences of mixed families, where some members of kin groups converted to Christianity, both in 1391 and in the early decades of the fifteenth century. Following these families through the notarial records from 1391 to the early 1420s, we’ve been able to consider the factors that led to conversion and the longer term impacts that it had on family and communal life. This research has highlighted tensions present between local municipal and ecclesiastical officials and the Crown as they fought for jurisdiction over these mixed family groups.

While much has been written about the Jewish community of Girona, very little has been done to shed light on the history of its women. Part of the challenge is methodological since the notarial collection available in Girona is so vast few scholars have been able to undertake such a project. What makes this project possible for us is our collaborative approach. Both of us received similar training as medievalists in the PhD program at the University of Toronto and thus do all our archival research together, inputting our findings in a shared relational database. We then use those findings to co-write our presentations, articles, and now a book, combining our expertise in Christian-Jewish relations (Alexandra) and the history of women and the family (Dana).

We have published articles on our collaborative research method in Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal (Fall 2018) and forthcoming in Medieval People. Our article “A Tale of Two Tolranas: Jewish Women’s Agency and Conversion in late medieval Girona” in the Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies 12.3 (2020) co-won the Association of Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies Bishko Prize in 2021. Our work has also led us to think more broadly about the meaning of community, which led us to collaborate with Michelle Armstrong-Partida in editing a collection of essays entitled Women and Community in Medieval and Early Modern Iberia (University of Nebraska Press, 2020), which was awarded the Best Collaborative Project of 2020 by the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and Gender.”

Call for applications: The Warren and Susan Stern Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Jewish Thought, Columbia University

Columbia University’s Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies is proud to announce a post-doctoral fellowship in Jewish Studies for the 2022-2023 academic year. The stipend for the fellowship will be $73,000. This fellowship is open to scholars in the field of Jewish Thought/Jewish Philosophy.

Deadline: December 1, 2021