The original post of this table of contents misspelled Ron Lasri as the author of Dealing with Informers: Yitzhak Aboab’s Aggadic Anthology,Menorat ha-ma’or It was entered incorrectly as Ron L. Asri.
A similar mistake was made with the author Irven Resnick. Jews and Abuse of the Cross in the Middle Ages (incorrectly posted as Irven R. Esnick.
We apologize for the error and have corrected it below.
Here is the table of contents for the latest issue of the Jewish Quarterly Review.
Published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.
Vol. 111.4 Fall 2021
Jewish Latin America: Seven Essays
Natalie B. Dohrmann
Américo Castro’s “Problem”
Ilan S Tavans
Fanny Edelman and Jewish Argentine Anti-fascist Women, 1930–47
Sandra McGee Deutsch
Bruria Elnecavé: Making Sephardim, and Women, Visible
Adriana M. Brodsky
Roman Coinage and Its Early Rabbinic Users
Tannaitic literature, the earliest stratum of rabbinic literature, offers a detailed account of a complex and multivalent relationship between a small group of provincial subjects of the Roman Empire and their coins, couched in legal terms. In this article, I discuss tannaitic prescriptions for use and abuse of coins against the backdrop of other nonrabbinic Jewish approaches to Roman coinage, and in the context of the political meaning of coin use in the Roman Empire. For the Early rabbis, coins are a special category of object, governed by their own rules and made special by the image on them, which the rabbis do not consider idolatrous. To fulfill some obligations imposed by the Torah or the rabbis, the rabbis required the use of “current” (i.e., Roman-approved) coinage while arrogating to themselves the authority to regulate individual coins and to order them pulled from circulation. Coins are thus an interesting test case for the complex relationship between the Early rabbis and the empire to which they were subject.
This article presents a literary evaluation of one compilation of stories from Yitzhak Aboab’s Menorat ha-ma’or relating to a violent era in the history of the Jews in medieval Iberia, and in particular the case of Jewish informers to the Spanish crown. Compiled in fourteenth-century Toledo, this anthology of rabbinic lore from late antiquity implemented a unique Sephardic method that presents aggadic material in thematic order. In the introduction to the first chapter, Aboab creates a new cycle of stories compiled from separate tractates in the Babylonian Talmud. These tales are framed by a moral interpretation claiming all informers must be zealously punished. Surprisingly, the Aggadic lineup suggests a more complex picture. Whereas in the first two stories the sages function as informers to the king’s court, the last story is about a victim of an informer. The literary thread does not produce a stable moral message concerning informers. Rather, Aboab poses a moral dilemma that encourages his readers to take sides in a conflict between these iconic sages who reflect two opposing points of view on the role of informers. Several responsa documents from the thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Spain show that Aboab used stories that were frequently cited in legal debates on the legitimacy of the death sentence for informers. Alongside presenting a toolbox for further readings of Menorat ha-ma’or, this article shows the extent to which this anthology emerges as a primary source that enriches our cultural and historical understanding of Sephardic Jewry.
Jews and Abuse of the Cross in the Middle Ages
Medieval European Jews often reacted violently to the cross or crucifix, seeing it as an idolatrous “abomination.” Jews encountered the cross in various material forms, whether displayed in the church, or used in procession, or depicted on the clothing of crusaders and religious officials. It was not only a religious symbol, however: it was also a symbol of Christian power, and its virtual omnipresence in medieval Europe would have been a constant reminder of the Jews’ political weakness. At times, the Jews’ political impotence and violence against them may have provoked real attacks on the cross. The danger that such attacks would predictably result in martyrdom has led some scholars to question whether Christian accounts of such attacks on the cross are reliable, or whether they constitute a “cross desecration libel” fabricated about the same time as the blood libel in medieval Europe. This paper surveys both Latin and Hebrew sources treating medieval Jewish responses to the cross and argues that following the First Crusade, Jewish views of martyrdom may have encouraged abuse of the cross as a defiant sign of Jewish identity. It concludes that accounts of Jews’ abusing the cross were not merely Christian fabrications or literary inventions, but likely point to actual behavior.
After the Spanish expulsion, the Jewish exiles sought refuge in the Ottoman Empire, Western Europe, and North Africa. Among the North African countries, Morocco harbored the largest number of refugees, many of them settled in Fez. The arrival of the Spanish exiles introduced a new wave of intellectual activity to the local Jewish community in Fez. While previous studies have shown their contribution in the fields of halakhah, poetry, and historiography, this paper demonstrates that a new chapter began in the realm of Jewish thought as well. The works composed by the exiles who settled in Fez were diverse, comprised of the literary genres that had once proliferated in Spain, mostly sermons and commentary. A review of their writings reveals that they were preoccupied with the central theological subjects discussed in the Middle Ages, yet they did not compose their own original philosophical or theological works. They were heavily influenced by the writings of earlier and contemporary Sephardic thinkers; it appears that it was philosophy and astrology in their moderate version that had shaped their worldview. At the same time, they had a strong affinity for ancient rabbinical aggadah, and likewise to the zoharic and kabbalistic literature. Sephardic Jewish thought tradition continued to exist after the expulsion, not only in the Ottoman Diaspora and European Sephardic communities, as is has been claimed in previous research, but in Morocco as well.
This essay argues that women’s active participation in modern Jewish culture shaped modern Jewish masculinity. I examine this phenomenon by looking at how women figured in the writings of Jewish men as symbols of a new cultural modernity, showing how male writers orient themselves in relationship to women. The article focuses on the works of two well-known and popular writers, Abraham Cahan (1860–1951) and Sholem Aleichem (1856–1916), one American and the other Russian, who played important roles in shaping Yiddish culture as writers and literary gatekeepers. Reading their works, the essay shows how they represent and identify with their female protagonists, whose acts of reading open new modern social and political vistas. In Cahan’s “The Imported Bridegroom” (1898) and Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye the Dairyman, published serially between 1896–1914, young female protagonists read European novels that propel them to rebel against arranged marriages with Jewish Talmud scholars, and in doing so, they challenge the patriarchal authority of traditional Jewish texts and their male interpreters. In the place of this authoritative textual tradition, the female protagonists embrace the novel as a secular authority on everyday life. Reading these works, I illuminate how male writers’ portrayal of Jewish women’s desires articulate their own vexed relationships to a changing literary culture that included women.
Submitted by Paul Chase, Penn Press Journals