Monthly Archives: November 2022

Genetic studies of the medieval Jewish cemetery in Erfurt have yielded results that have attracted worldwide attention

by Karin Sczech, Erfurt

Karin Sczech at the excavation, © TLDA

In principle, according to the Jewish faith, burials take place for eternity and graves are only to be reopened if a reburial of the dead to Israel is planned. The integrity of the buried is also very important. Accordingly, archaeological investigations of Jewish cemeteries are rarely carried out.

In Erfurt, a rescue excavation was necessary in 2013 at the medieval Jewish cemetery, as construction machinery had already disturbed the ground. In close consultation with the Jewish Community of Thuringia, anthropological investigations were also arranged after the excavations were completed. Due to various circumstances, these investigations were delayed longer than expected, so that the skeletons were still in storage at the Thuringian State Office of Archaeology in Weimar when, in 2017, the Israeli geneticist Shai Carmi made a request to also conduct genetic investigations. There are very few Jewish cemeteries worldwide where this was possible.

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Online Talk about “Elijah the Prophet’s Varied Eschatological Roles in Jewish and Christian Discourse” by Chana Shacham-Rosby, 12 December 2022

In this talk, I will discuss the various roles attributed to Elijah the Prophet in Jewish and Christian eschatological narratives. I will focus on the function of Elijah’s figure in Jewish-Christian polemic about the eschaton, and especially the fate of the Jews. The talk will review a range of written and visual sources and suggest possible avenues of discourse between the communities.

Researcher of the Week

Meyrav Levy

PhD Candidate

Westfälische Wilhelms-University Münster, Institute for Jewish Studies
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Katrin Kogman-Appel and Dr. Laura Suzanne Lieber

“In my forthcoming doctoral dissertation, “Ashkenazi Mahzorim as Generators of an Affective Experience,” I seek to capture the cognitive-emotional reception of illuminated Ashkenazi mahzorim, produced between 1250 and 1350. Mahzorim are Jewish prayer books containing piyyutim (liturgical poems) and biblical texts intended for recitation in the synagogue on each Jewish holiday. Many of these prayer books are illuminated to a different extent–from full-page illustrations, decorated initial panels, to grotesque marginalia. What particularly concerns me in my project is how the verbal and visual content of mahzorim mediates the cardinal messages of the holidays. I contend, that the theological ideas and biblical narratives are conveyed to worshipers by means that trigger their imagination, senses and emotions–thus, encouraging a more meaningful reception.

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New study analyzes the DNA of the medieval Ashkenazi Jewish community in Erfurt, Germany

Excavating ancient DNA from teeth, an international group of scientists peered into the lives of a once thriving medieval Ashkenazi Jewish community in Erfurt, Germany. The findings, shared today in the JournalCell, show that the Erfurt Jewish community was more genetically diverse than modern day Ashkenazi Jews. Co-authored by Professor Shai Carmi of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the study suggests that there were at least two genetically distinct groups in medieval Erfurt.

Canadian Society for Jewish Studies, 18th Annual Conference, 29–31 May 2023

The Canadian Society for Jewish Studies (CSJS) is an academic society for the study of Jewish cultures, practices, and thought in any part of the world and any time period, from any disciplinary perspective. Participants and members from anywhere in the world are welcome. Paper proposals in all areas of Jewish Studies are invited. Approaches may be grounded in ethnography, history, textual study, hermeneutics, literary analysis, art history, critical theory, or any other scholarly approach. Papers may not have been published or presented elsewhere.

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15th Contact Day Jewish Studies on the Low Countries, 23 May 2023

The Institute of Jewish Studies organizes for the fifteenth time an interdisciplinary conference at the University of Antwerp concerning Jewish Studies on the Low Countries. The purpose of the conference is to facilitate contacts between researchers working within this area of study. We especially encourage young researchers to participate in the workshop. We also hope for contributions from more established researchers, in order to create a positive exchange between different research generations. We particularly invite papers and/or sessions that are explicitly comparative in character, and welcome themes and disciplines within Jewish Studies concerning the Low Countries. Proposals need not be limited to a specific historical period and presentations may include work in progress. Both individual and panel proposals are possible. The conference language is English. Please note that the conference organizers cannot provide financial support to cover travel and accommodation of presenters or participants. Please submit an abstract of maximally 400 words and a short CV by 15 January 2023.
For further information please contact:
Karin Hofmeester:
Veerle Vanden Daelen: