The medieval European Jewish neighborhood was a physical and social space reflecting unique adaptations of residential needs according to religious laws and the sages' interpretations in the Mishnah and Talmud that took place within the Christian cities of medieval Europe. Understanding the features of Jewish communal life in these cities, as well as the planning rationale of the Jewish urban landscape, is widely unexplored and requires a complex set of interdisciplinary tools, combining the disciplines of history, archaeology, Halacha (Jewish law), folklore, and art.

The significance of a unique research of this type is in its ability to shed light upon a critical phase in the development of Jewish thought and, for the first time, the various elements composing Jewish neighborhoods in medieval European cities. This research aims to analyze not only the physical characteristics of the medieval Jewish neighborhood, but also to address the Jews' self-perception with regard to the space within which they operate, within their own neighborhood and within the larger Christian city. Comparing Halachic materials from the Iruvin Tractate concerning the Jewish neighborhood with non-Jewish historical sources and archaeological data provides a unique glimpse into the urban landscape of Europe's medieval, city-dwelling Jews, illuminating the many layers of meaning implicated in their physical surroundings. The research team is analyzing a number of sources – including medieval interpretations of the Iruvin tractate by key Jewish scholars in France and Germany; Responsa dealing with neighborly relations and the problems caused by local landscapes and construction on the Sabbath; medieval real estate deeds and registrations that took place in Christian cities; and archaeological remains from medieval cities – in order to understand and reconstruct the medieval Jewish urban space within the European Christian city.

The research team is led by Prof. Simha Goldin, in cooperation with Professor Dr. Johannes Heil, the Ignatz Bubis Chair of the Hochschule für Jüdische Studien in Heidelberg, Germany. Other leading scholars in this field – primarily in Europe – are involved in the project. Within the framework of this project, a series of annual international research workshops has been held to examine new findings; the proceedings from these workshops will be published as a new volume of the Center’s academic journal Michael. In addition, one or more books on the reconstruction of the medieval European Jewish neighborhood will be published upon the conclusion of the project.

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A new date will be published soon

 

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