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Collected Essays: v. 2$
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Haym Soloveitchik

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113980

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113980.001.0001

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Communications and the Palestinian Origins of Ashkenaz

Communications and the Palestinian Origins of Ashkenaz

(p.122) Chapter Seven Communications and the Palestinian Origins of Ashkenaz
Collected Essays: v. 2

Haym Soloveitchik

Liverpool University Press

This chapter contends that the recent scholarship on communication in early medieval Europe has undermined the major tacit assumption of the reigning theory of the cultural origins of the Ashkenazic community. Nineteenth-century Jewish scholars who pioneered the academic study of Judaism (Wissenschaft des Judentums) discovered that the Ashkenazic rite had strong Palestinian influences, and the past half-century has witnessed a vigorous reassertion of this viewpoint. It has been claimed that the underlying religious culture of Early Ashkenaz was Palestinian, and that only later did the Babylonian Talmud achieve the dominance in the religious life of Ashkenaz. The chapter challenges this underlying premise, namely, that the nascent Ashkenazic community was located in some transalpine corner of Europe with only a tenuous connection to the East and dependent on a single cultural source whose pipeline ran from Byzantine Palestine to Byzantine southern Italy and from there through the Alpine passes to the Rhineland. The liturgical poetry of Ashkenaz was, indeed, nurtured by just such an umbilical cord, and so, it is claimed, it stands to reason that its culture generally, and its religious rites in particular, were similarly nourished.

Keywords:   Early Ashkenaz, Palestine, Babylonian Talmud, communications, Ashkenazi community, cultural origins, Palestinian influences, Jewish historiography

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