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Regional Identities and Cultures of Medieval Jews$
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Javier Castaño, Talya Fishman, and Ephraim Kanarfogel

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781906764678

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906764678.001.0001

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Medieval Jewish Legends on the Decline of the Babylonian Centre and the Primacy of Other Geographical Centres

Medieval Jewish Legends on the Decline of the Babylonian Centre and the Primacy of Other Geographical Centres

Chapter:
(p.37) Chapter Two Medieval Jewish Legends on the Decline of the Babylonian Centre and the Primacy of Other Geographical Centres
Source:
Regional Identities and Cultures of Medieval Jews
Author(s):
Avraham Grossman
Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781906764678.003.0003

This chapter recounts how the Babylonian centre of Jewish study gradually went into decline and Jewish centres in Christian Europe grew stronger in France, Germany, Spain, and Provence during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. It demonstrates the ways Jews sought reasons to extol the virtues of their own locale, which was customary in contemporaneous Christian societies. It also describes the various centres in Christian Europe that sought to establish a connection to the charismatic Charlemagne, cities, and countries in the Islamic world, which produced literatures praising their region. The chapter describes the eleventh-century legends and folk tales that extol the virtues of different Jewish centres in Europe set against the backdrop of the decline of the Babylonian centre following the death of R. Hai Gaon. It examines the rivalry between Spain and Ashkenaz as each centre strived to outdo the other.

Keywords:   Babylonian centre, Jewish study, Christian Europe, Islamic world, Spain, Ashkenaz

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