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Broadening Jewish History$
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Todd M. Endelman

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113010

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113010.001.0001

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Making Jews Modern

Making Jews Modern

Jewish Self-Identification and West European Categories of Belonging

(p.19) Chapter One Making Jews Modern
Broadening Jewish History

Todd M. Endelman

Liverpool University Press

This chapter analyses the assumption of the value of identity in illuminating Jewish behaviour in recent centuries for understanding the experience of Jews in earlier periods. It explains how Jews constituted a well-defined collective unit for whom questions of self-identification in medieval and early modern Europe rarely arose, such as who people are and what is their place. The chapter also highlights the difference between pre-modern European Jews and their neighbours by virtue of their religion, nationality or ethnicity, and legal status, including language, costume, employment, and social and cultural habits. The chapter cites religious traditions, social structures, and legal categories that defined the borders of the Jewish world, which remained stable throughout the medieval and early modern periods. It refers to the nature of correct belief and practice that is disputed within the Jewish world, such as rabbis who clashed over how best to know and serve God.

Keywords:   self-identification, Jewish behaviour, European Jews, religious traditions, social structures

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