Constructing Borders & Crossing Boundaries

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Constructing Borders & Crossing Boundaries

Social, Cultural, & Religious Change in Early Modern Jewish History
An Online Exhibition from the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced
Judaic Studies 2013-2014 Fellows at the University of Pennsylvania
  (Psalm 24:1) Avraham Farisol, Igeret orḥot ʻolam

Avraham Farisol, Igeret orḥot ʻolam [Epistle on the Ways of the World] (16th centuy), Enlightenment edition edited by Israel Landau, Prague: Elsenwanger, 1793, fol. 1a. Illustration by Anton Balzer for Psalm 24:1, "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." Credit: Library at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies (Bibliographic information ).

Introduction

Scholars working in a wide variety of disciplines have long identified the late fifteenth through the late eighteenth centuries as a discrete historical period called "Early Modern." Only in recent years have historians adopted this time frame to explore and define the specific cultural experience of Jews in Europe and the Mediterranean Basin. This past year's research group came together to bridge often disconnected areas of scholarship and to probe the meaning of an early modern era of Jewish history on its own terms. Borders and boundaries were understood geographically, but also as social, cultural, legal, political, and economic realities. Recognizing these connected histories helped us understand the internal divisions and new cultural movements and practices within Jewish society; careful study also revealed unexpected new relationships among Jews and non-Jews. In this year's web exhibition, we highlight the boundary as both a dividing line and a place of meeting and mixing between different groups (Jewish and non-Jewish) in an attempt to shed light on the nature of early modern Jewry and the early modern period in general.

A Choreography of Sacred Readings: the Complutensian Polyglot Bible

The first editorial monument of early modern polyglot philology is the so-called Complutensian Polyglot Bible (ca. 1502-1517, only released after 1520) in six volumes, of which the library at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies possesses a complete copy. This complex biblical edition was the brainchild of Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros (1436-1517), the leading churchman in Spain at the turn of the sixteenth century.

Modern scholars have traditionally described the editorial choices in the Complutensian Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts as a compromise by the Complutensian philologists with Jerome's (Latin) Vulgate, also printed in this bible. Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts would have been modified to make them match Jerome's translation. The texts as found in the Complutensian challenge this assumption. For instance, Jeremiah 7:18, ". . . to make cakes to the queen of heaven" reads the same both in Jerome and in the Hebrew Bible. But the Complutensians innovate with a completely different reading, supposing a form "mele'khet," with an aleph ("assignment; task") instead of "melekhet" ("queen"), thus understanding: "to make cakes for a heavenly assignment"following David Qimhi's medieval exegesis. A telling example of an editorial work that was conceived to correct whenever deemed necessary by the editors' own standards the biblical readings of the fathers of the Church and the Jewish biblical tradition altogether.

A Hebrew Grammar for Christian Scholars: Abraham De Balmes' Mikneh Avram

"There are divine mysteries . . . in the words and the letters of the Holy text, mysteries that cannot be grasped on the basis of the Latin or Greek [versions of the Bible]." By these introductory words, Daniel Bomberg, the publisher of Abraham De Balmes' Hebrew grammar Mikneh Avram (The Possession of Abram, Venice, 1523) explains why he decided to commit himself to print a new Hebrew grammar targeted to non-Jews. De Balmes, a talented physician, philosopher, and kabbalist (born in Southern Italy c. 1460, died in Venice c. 1523), is mainly known for his translations from Hebrew into Latin of the Averroistic corpus, sponsored by cardinal Domenico Grimani.

De Balmes' Mikneh Avram was the first Hebrew grammar addressed by a Jewish scholar to the non-Jewish audience of humanists who were eager to learn Hebrew and the Jewish Kabbalah. The Hebrew text is accompanied by a Latin translation carried out by De Balmes and completed, after the author's death, by Kalonymos ben David Kalonymos. The interest of this edition, which had a wide circulation, resides in the special emphasis attributed to the syntax of Hebrew as well as in the combined use of Aristotelian logic and Kabbalistic allusions, a speculative pattern that characterized De Balmes' intellectual research.

A Hebrew Grammar for Christian Scholars: Abraham De Balmes' Mikneh Avram

"There are divine mysteries . . . in the words and the letters of the Holy text, mysteries that cannot be grasped on the basis of the Latin or Greek [versions of the Bible]." By these introductory words, Daniel Bomberg, the publisher of Abraham De Balmes' Hebrew grammar Mikneh Avram (The Possession of Abram, Venice, 1523) explains why he decided to commit himself to print a new Hebrew grammar targeted to non-Jews. De Balmes, a talented physician, philosopher, and kabbalist (born in Southern Italy c. 1460, died in Venice c. 1523), is mainly known for his translations from Hebrew into Latin of the Averroistic corpus, sponsored by cardinal Domenico Grimani.

De Balmes' Mikneh Avram was the first Hebrew grammar addressed by a Jewish scholar to the non-Jewish audience of humanists who were eager to learn Hebrew and the Jewish Kabbalah. The Hebrew text is accompanied by a Latin translation carried out by De Balmes and completed, after the author's death, by Kalonymos ben David Kalonymos. The interest of this edition, which had a wide circulation, resides in the special emphasis attributed to the syntax of Hebrew as well as in the combined use of Aristotelian logic and Kabbalistic allusions, a speculative pattern that characterized De Balmes' intellectual research.

A Hebrew Grammar for Christian Scholars: Abraham De Balmes' Mikneh Avram

"There are divine mysteries . . . in the words and the letters of the Holy text, mysteries that cannot be grasped on the basis of the Latin or Greek [versions of the Bible]." By these introductory words, Daniel Bomberg, the publisher of Abraham De Balmes' Hebrew grammar Mikneh Avram (The Possession of Abram, Venice, 1523) explains why he decided to commit himself to print a new Hebrew grammar targeted to non-Jews. De Balmes, a talented physician, philosopher, and kabbalist (born in Southern Italy c. 1460, died in Venice c. 1523), is mainly known for his translations from Hebrew into Latin of the Averroistic corpus, sponsored by cardinal Domenico Grimani.

De Balmes' Mikneh Avram was the first Hebrew grammar addressed by a Jewish scholar to the non-Jewish audience of humanists who were eager to learn Hebrew and the Jewish Kabbalah. The Hebrew text is accompanied by a Latin translation carried out by De Balmes and completed, after the author's death, by Kalonymos ben David Kalonymos. The interest of this edition, which had a wide circulation, resides in the special emphasis attributed to the syntax of Hebrew as well as in the combined use of Aristotelian logic and Kabbalistic allusions, a speculative pattern that characterized De Balmes' intellectual research.

Censorship in a time of Religious Turmoil

The invention of the printing press in the middle of the 15th century revolutionized communication and book production in Europe, leading to a thus far unimaginable spread of knowledge. From its early days, Hebrew printing was part and parcel of this innovative device. A succinct introduction to its the history can be viewed on-line at the Penn Libraries' Judaica exhibition "From Written to Printed Text: The Transmission of Jewish Tradition" of the David Katz Center for Judaic Studies.

The spread of knowledge, however, did not only unite people in their intellectual endeavors; it equally divided them in that it brought to light differences of opinion and ideological opposites. In a time of religious turmoil, the Roman Church considered that the most effective means of beating Luther's Reformation was to control and restrict the spread of knowledge, a tactic that resulted in the ineffective tool of censorship. In order to make up for loss of believers the Church authorities also targeted the unbelievers through missionary activities, which did not leave the Jews in the Pontifical State untouched. Like the works of the reformers and their catholic sympathizers, the literary output of Jewish tradition was submitted to an ongoing process of expurgation. In an effort to deprive the Jews of the hope of redemption and the coming of their Messiah, and to accelerate their conversion, ecclesiastical censors were supposed to erase all such passages. Every contradiction of Christian doctrine or alleged offence against the Christian faith, the Church and its flock was to be removed.

When looking at early Hebrew printing that had undergone pre-publication censorship or expurgation, one easilygiven the predictable outcome of this authoritarian devicesees the inefficiency of this exercise of the Church: in censorship the obvious was left out or in case of expurgation the text, known by heart, was reinserted by hand. Jews have mostly repaired the scars left by the Church, thus making censorship an unsuccessful undertaking.

Censorship in a time of Religious Turmoil

The invention of the printing press in the middle of the 15th century revolutionized communication and book production in Europe, leading to a thus far unimaginable spread of knowledge. From its early days, Hebrew printing was part and parcel of this innovative device. A succinct introduction to its the history can be viewed on-line at the Penn Libraries' Judaica exhibition "From Written to Printed Text: The Transmission of Jewish Tradition" of the David Katz Center for Judaic Studies.

The spread of knowledge, however, did not only unite people in their intellectual endeavors; it equally divided them in that it brought to light differences of opinion and ideological opposites. In a time of religious turmoil, the Roman Church considered that the most effective means of beating Luther's Reformation was to control and restrict the spread of knowledge, a tactic that resulted in the ineffective tool of censorship. In order to make up for loss of believers the Church authorities also targeted the unbelievers through missionary activities, which did not leave the Jews in the Pontifical State untouched. Like the works of the reformers and their catholic sympathizers, the literary output of Jewish tradition was submitted to an ongoing process of expurgation. In an effort to deprive the Jews of the hope of redemption and the coming of their Messiah, and to accelerate their conversion, ecclesiastical censors were supposed to erase all such passages. Every contradiction of Christian doctrine or alleged offence against the Christian faith, the Church and its flock was to be removed.

When looking at early Hebrew printing that had undergone pre-publication censorship or expurgation, one easilygiven the predictable outcome of this authoritarian devicesees the inefficiency of this exercise of the Church: in censorship the obvious was left out or in case of expurgation the text, known by heart, was reinserted by hand. Jews have mostly repaired the scars left by the Church, thus making censorship an unsuccessful undertaking.

Chronicling the Craft of Printing: David Gans' Tsemah David

Gans (1541-1613) resided in Bohemia and was one of the first Central-Eastern European private Jewish scholars. Although not being a rabbi, he studied with some of the most important rabbinic scholars of the day, e.g. with Moshe Isserles or with Sinai ben Betsalel, brother of the Maharal of Prague. He wrote on mathematics, astronomy and especially history. His chronicle Tsemah David (Prague, 1592) manifests his bibliographic interest and fascination with printed book (he used and even referred not only to Jewish but also non-Jewish sources). In the second part of his chronicle (pt. 2, fol. 95b), dealing with the "history of the world,", i.e. including the non-Jewish, Gans included a long eulogy for the invention of print "in the city of Mainz by the means of a Christian gentleman named Johannes Gutenberg." Gans enthusiastically acknowledged the potentially universal benefit of printed book not only for scholars, but also for "craftsmen, laborers, goldsmiths, builders, stonemasons and others, [who] will reveal and disseminate by the means of print countless useful things and inventions, as many books without end will be printed for workers in all professions!" It is significant that the paragraph on print is typographically accentuated by the symbol of a crown that is otherwise used in the book only to mark passages speaking of important kings and emperors.

A Philosophy of Torah by the Maharal of Prague

Judah Liwa ben Bezalel, better known by his acronym Maharal of Prague, was an original thinker and prolific writer. The Tiferet Yisrael (Venice: Daniel Zanetti, 1599) presents a philosophy of Torah, and its status in the world. In the penultimate chapter of the work Maharal presents a disquisition on the Oral Torah. As in all his writings, he makes scant reference to sources other than the canonical rabbinic texts, let alone non-Jewish writers. Here on this page, in the penultimate chapter of the book (ch. 69, f. 62 col.c) Maharal refers to a discussion he had with a gentile scholar about religious dissension and the proliferation of Christians sects in his own time and among Jews in antiquity.

This reported conversation probably reveals a true picture of Maharal's life which was not restricted to the domain of the Jewish yeshivah, or the Klois, the academy for Jewish scholars, which he himself founded in Prague.

A Philosophy of Torah by the Maharal of Prague

Judah Liwa ben Bezalel, better known by his acronym Maharal of Prague, was an original thinker and prolific writer. The Tiferet Yisrael (Venice: Daniel Zanetti, 1599) presents a philosophy of Torah, and its status in the world. In the penultimate chapter of the work Maharal presents a disquisition on the Oral Torah. As in all his writings, he makes scant reference to sources other than the canonical rabbinic texts, let alone non-Jewish writers. Here on this page, in the penultimate chapter of the book (ch. 69, f. 62 col.c) Maharal refers to a discussion he had with a gentile scholar about religious dissension and the proliferation of Christians sects in his own time and among Jews in antiquity.

This reported conversation probably reveals a true picture of Maharal's life which was not restricted to the domain of the Jewish yeshivah, or the Klois, the academy for Jewish scholars, which he himself founded in Prague.

Kabbalistic Abridgments to the Pardes Rimonim: The Evolution of a Text

The abridgement as a separate literary genre came into its own in the age of printing, especially in sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when both readers and printers sought out condensed treatises to access original works in a more expedient way. For the consumer, digests facilitated the management of information, through the use of conceptual shortcuts, such as key concepts, representative passages and, at times, diagrams and visual aids. For the printer, the publication of abridgments, which were considerably shorter and physically smaller than the original work, offered the potential of wide circulation and economic profit.

At the beginning of the seventeenth century, three kabbalistic abridgments to Moses Cordovero's Pardes Rimonim were printed within the same decade: Pelah HaRimon written by the famous Rabbi and Kabbalist Menachem Azariah da Fano (Venice, 1600); Assis Rimonim, edited using the work of R. Samuel Gallico with the marginal notes of R. Mordechai Dato (Venice, 1601); and Pithei Yah, written by R. Yissachar Baer ben Petahyah Moshe (Prague, 1609). An important technical feature of the original work, the Pardes Rimonim, was the author's inclusion of kabbalistic diagrams, interspersed throughout the text for the purpose of providing visual illustration of certain kabbalistic concepts and processes. Yissachar Baer's abridgment uses only one visual aid, a schematic diagram representing the ten Sefirot. What is interesting however, is that the 1591-92 Krakow/Nowy Dvor edition of the Pardes does not contain this diagram. Cordovero includes a similar sefirotic tree in Gate 7 of the Pardes, devoted to the explication of "channels," which function as conduits connecting the Sefirot and directing the divine emanation from one Sefirah to the next, nevertheless this diagram is markedly different from the one Yissachar Baer uses. Fano's Pelah ha-Rimon includes absolutely no kabbalistic diagrams, while Samuel Gallico's Assis Rimonim reproduces the highest number of visual illustrations from the Pardes. Fano's clear stance against incorporating visual images into a printed text is corroborated by his removal of these images when he undertakes to correct the Assis which gets finally reprinted devoid of any graphic representation in Mantua in 1623. The unique variance in the creative reproduction of texts and images in kabbalistic abridgments demonstrates the creative filtering of an abridger, who moves beyond mechanical reduction and creatively shapes the original work in ways consistent with his cultural, educational, and religious predispositions.

Kabbalistic Abridgments to the Pardes Rimonim: The Evolution of a Text

The abridgement as a separate literary genre came into its own in the age of printing, especially in sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when both readers and printers sought out condensed treatises to access original works in a more expedient way. For the consumer, digests facilitated the management of information, through the use of conceptual shortcuts, such as key concepts, representative passages and, at times, diagrams and visual aids. For the printer, the publication of abridgments, which were considerably shorter and physically smaller than the original work, offered the potential of wide circulation and economic profit.

At the beginning of the seventeenth century, three kabbalistic abridgments to Moses Cordovero's Pardes Rimonim were printed within the same decade: Pelah HaRimon written by the famous Rabbi and Kabbalist Menachem Azariah da Fano (Venice, 1600); Assis Rimonim, edited using the work of R. Samuel Gallico with the marginal notes of R. Mordechai Dato (Venice, 1601); and Pithei Yah, written by R. Yissachar Baer ben Petahyah Moshe (Prague, 1609). An important technical feature of the original work, the Pardes Rimonim, was the author's inclusion of kabbalistic diagrams, interspersed throughout the text for the purpose of providing visual illustration of certain kabbalistic concepts and processes. Yissachar Baer's abridgment uses only one visual aid, a schematic diagram representing the ten Sefirot. What is interesting however, is that the 1591-92 Krakow/Nowy Dvor edition of the Pardes does not contain this diagram. Cordovero includes a similar sefirotic tree in Gate 7 of the Pardes, devoted to the explication of "channels," which function as conduits connecting the Sefirot and directing the divine emanation from one Sefirah to the next, nevertheless this diagram is markedly different from the one Yissachar Baer uses. Fano's Pelah ha-Rimon includes absolutely no kabbalistic diagrams, while Samuel Gallico's Assis Rimonim reproduces the highest number of visual illustrations from the Pardes. Fano's clear stance against incorporating visual images into a printed text is corroborated by his removal of these images when he undertakes to correct the Assis which gets finally reprinted devoid of any graphic representation in Mantua in 1623. The unique variance in the creative reproduction of texts and images in kabbalistic abridgments demonstrates the creative filtering of an abridger, who moves beyond mechanical reduction and creatively shapes the original work in ways consistent with his cultural, educational, and religious predispositions.

Kabbalistic Abridgments to the Pardes Rimonim: The Evolution of a Text

The abridgement as a separate literary genre came into its own in the age of printing, especially in sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when both readers and printers sought out condensed treatises to access original works in a more expedient way. For the consumer, digests facilitated the management of information, through the use of conceptual shortcuts, such as key concepts, representative passages and, at times, diagrams and visual aids. For the printer, the publication of abridgments, which were considerably shorter and physically smaller than the original work, offered the potential of wide circulation and economic profit.

At the beginning of the seventeenth century, three kabbalistic abridgments to Moses Cordovero's Pardes Rimonim were printed within the same decade: Pelah HaRimon written by the famous Rabbi and Kabbalist Menachem Azariah da Fano (Venice, 1600); Assis Rimonim, edited using the work of R. Samuel Gallico with the marginal notes of R. Mordechai Dato (Venice, 1601); and Pithei Yah, written by R. Yissachar Baer ben Petahyah Moshe (Prague, 1609). An important technical feature of the original work, the Pardes Rimonim, was the author's inclusion of kabbalistic diagrams, interspersed throughout the text for the purpose of providing visual illustration of certain kabbalistic concepts and processes. Yissachar Baer's abridgment uses only one visual aid, a schematic diagram representing the ten Sefirot. What is interesting however, is that the 1591-92 Krakow/Nowy Dvor edition of the Pardes does not contain this diagram. Cordovero includes a similar sefirotic tree in Gate 7 of the Pardes, devoted to the explication of "channels," which function as conduits connecting the Sefirot and directing the divine emanation from one Sefirah to the next, nevertheless this diagram is markedly different from the one Yissachar Baer uses. Fano's Pelah ha-Rimon includes absolutely no kabbalistic diagrams, while Samuel Gallico's Assis Rimonim reproduces the highest number of visual illustrations from the Pardes. Fano's clear stance against incorporating visual images into a printed text is corroborated by his removal of these images when he undertakes to correct the Assis which gets finally reprinted devoid of any graphic representation in Mantua in 1623. The unique variance in the creative reproduction of texts and images in kabbalistic abridgments demonstrates the creative filtering of an abridger, who moves beyond mechanical reduction and creatively shapes the original work in ways consistent with his cultural, educational, and religious predispositions.

Kabbalistic Abridgments to the Pardes Rimonim: The Evolution of a Text

The abridgement as a separate literary genre came into its own in the age of printing, especially in sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when both readers and printers sought out condensed treatises to access original works in a more expedient way. For the consumer, digests facilitated the management of information, through the use of conceptual shortcuts, such as key concepts, representative passages and, at times, diagrams and visual aids. For the printer, the publication of abridgments, which were considerably shorter and physically smaller than the original work, offered the potential of wide circulation and economic profit.

At the beginning of the seventeenth century, three kabbalistic abridgments to Moses Cordovero's Pardes Rimonim were printed within the same decade: Pelah HaRimon written by the famous Rabbi and Kabbalist Menachem Azariah da Fano (Venice, 1600); Assis Rimonim, edited using the work of R. Samuel Gallico with the marginal notes of R. Mordechai Dato (Venice, 1601); and Pithei Yah, written by R. Yissachar Baer ben Petahyah Moshe (Prague, 1609). An important technical feature of the original work, the Pardes Rimonim, was the author's inclusion of kabbalistic diagrams, interspersed throughout the text for the purpose of providing visual illustration of certain kabbalistic concepts and processes. Yissachar Baer's abridgment uses only one visual aid, a schematic diagram representing the ten Sefirot. What is interesting however, is that the 1591-92 Krakow/Nowy Dvor edition of the Pardes does not contain this diagram. Cordovero includes a similar sefirotic tree in Gate 7 of the Pardes, devoted to the explication of "channels," which function as conduits connecting the Sefirot and directing the divine emanation from one Sefirah to the next, nevertheless this diagram is markedly different from the one Yissachar Baer uses. Fano's Pelah ha-Rimon includes absolutely no kabbalistic diagrams, while Samuel Gallico's Assis Rimonim reproduces the highest number of visual illustrations from the Pardes. Fano's clear stance against incorporating visual images into a printed text is corroborated by his removal of these images when he undertakes to correct the Assis which gets finally reprinted devoid of any graphic representation in Mantua in 1623. The unique variance in the creative reproduction of texts and images in kabbalistic abridgments demonstrates the creative filtering of an abridger, who moves beyond mechanical reduction and creatively shapes the original work in ways consistent with his cultural, educational, and religious predispositions.

John Speed, The Genealogies of Scripture

According to John Lightfoot's preface to the collected works of the sixteenth-century English Christian Hebraist, Hugh Broughton, "Mr. John Speed, a man well known, was Overseer of the Press for [the printing of Broughton's A Concent of Scripture]: a Taylor by trade; but, by acquaintance with Mr. Broughton, grown very Studious in the Scriptures, and by his directions grown very Skilfull in them. In the time, while the Concent was Printing, he, by Mr. Broughton's direction, gathered all the Genealogies of the Bible into one View, and at the last they were Published under his name, in the form we have them before our Bibles. But it was Mr. Broughton, that directed, and digested them, and there are yet fair Manuscripts of them to be shewed, some whereof have the names in Hebrew, and Greek, and some in the Latine Letter, and in some of them Mr. Broughton's own handbo?=&.And yet when the Genealogie came to be Published, because the Bishops would not endure to have Mr. Broughton's name prefixed, Mr. Speed went away with all the credit, and profit: so, that he would confess, and it was no more then he had good reason to do it; That Mr. Broughton was a means under God of great Blessings to him, and his Children, for worldly comforts."

It's difficult to confirm all the details in Lightfoot's account, especially his assertion of existence of manuscripts by Broughton with earlier versions of the genealogies. What we do know is that in 1610, John Speed, who had achieved his early success as a cartographer, was granted a ten-year license to insert his 34-page engraving of The genealogies of the scriptures, according to every familie and tribe in the soon-to-be-published King James version of the Bible. The genealogies of the scriptures was part of a package of readers' aids sold separately and designed to be bound at the beginning of the text. Speed's "tables" do appear to be based on those created by Broughton, which he adapted and expanded. Spee's version of the harmonizing of the conflicting genealogies in the gospels of Mathew and Luke follow exactly Brought's own extensive explication of the differences. The same can be said for the way Speed's charts address other discrepancies between the succession of Judean and Israelite monarchs in Kings and Chronicles.

For Broughton, the stakes for getting these chronologies right could not have been higher: "this table by ignorance of Scripture grounde hath hardened Turkes: whose sworde the worde would haue turned to our good: hath hardened Iewes, to despise the ioyance of the Gospel: hath weakened Papistes to thinke the Gospell and Scripture vnexplicable: that weakened euen our selues to burst out into haynous notes, and barbarous rage against the openers of trueth." Moslems, Jews, and Catholics are looking to English Protestants to get their history right, Broughton seems to be suggesting, and as long as they don't, the English Church cannot expect the universal acknowledgement of Christian truth for which it should be striving. The impact of Broughton's extensive efforts in biblical chronology is long-lived, too. Not only do his calculations and genealogies come to shape the tables and charts that preceded the printed versions of the King James Bible through many of its early printings, they also served as the key basis for the work of James Ussher, Archbishop of Armaugh, whose Annals of the Old Testament, first published in 1650, is widely acknowledged as the source for Young Earth Creationism, the influence of which continues to be felt to this day.

The Arch of Lisbon's Merchants

he "Arch of Lisbon's Merchants" ("Arco dos homens de negócios") here depicted by the royal cartographer João Baptista de Lavanha (very probably, a Portuguese Converso) was the most impressive and luxurious manifestation to celebrate King Philip III's visit to Lisbon in 1619, as King Philip II of Portugal. The visit of the Habsburg Monarch aroused vivid expectations among Lisbon's "men of commerce" who were predominately Conversos. They hoped that the visit of the King would restore to the city its deserved role as the epicenter of the once-prosperous colonial trade in India. Decorated with classical, mythological themes and episodes of Iberian history (mostly Portuguese), the "arch of the men of commerce" explicitly celebrated King Manuel I past successful overseas enterprises. But this arch, I argue, also shared a theological-political implicit message: the need to revive King Manuel's integrative policies regarding the "ablest" and the "richest" among the Conversos. Portugal and its Habsburg King, were thereby called to fulfill the traditional role as protector and diffusor of Catholicism in the East with the help of Lisbon's prosperous businessmen. Claiming that, Conversos' "men of commerce" aimed to transform their negative image as suspected judaizers into useful and trustful subjects of the Crown, deserving to be promoted into the Old Christian elites.

"The Most Accurate Hebrew Bible"

The Biblia Hebraica Accuratissima (Amsterdam: Joseph Athias 1666-67) is a monument in the histories of the Hebrew book and of Jewish-Christian relations. A remarkable example of seventeenth-century cross-confessional collaboration, it was edited by a team of Jewish scholars in Amsterdam and by a Calvinist Professor of Hebrew at the nearby University of Utrecht. The text was set by consulting earlier printed editions, Masoretic treatises and medieval Hebrew manuscripts that belonged to private Jewish libraries in Amsterdam, where the edition was published by the Portuguese-Jewish printer Joseph Athias. The edition came with printed approbations from the Rabbis of Amsterdam's Portuguese-Jewish Community (including the great Isaac Aboab da Fonseca, the first Rabbi in the New World when he led the Jewish community in Dutch Brazil) as well as theologians from all four universities in the Dutch Republic.

Printed some two centuries after the beginning of Hebrew printing, it seems to be the first edition of the Hebrew Bible to carry the approbation of both Christian and Jewish religious authorities. In the layout of the text itself, two completely different systems of textual divisionthe chapters and verses of the Christian tradition and verse, paragraph and weekly portion divisions of Jewish traditionare superimposed. That made the text useful for both liturgical and scholarly purposes, and allowed Jews and Christians engaged in religious apologetics and polemics to efficiently refer to Scripture according to the tradition of the other, deepening a sense of a shared biblical culture.

Famous for its accuracy, the so-called Leusden-Athias Bible remained the model for a very large number of later printings of the Hebrew Biblical text deep into the 19th century, including the first complete Hebrew Bible printed in America, in 1814, by another dynamic duo of Christian-Jewish collaboration, Thomas Dobson and Jonathan Horwitz, in Philadelphia.

One of the copies in the collection of the Library at the Katz Center, which belonged to Leon Gildesgame and before him to the Rev. Patrick Reynolds of Waterhead outside Manchester, has a beautifully hand-painted title page.

Compendia of Wisdom in Sephardi Amsterdam

Abraham Pereyra was a former converso who turned to Judaism in Amsterdam in midlife. A leading figure in business and then a member of the lay governing council of the community, Pereyra also produced two books within six years: La Certeza del Camino ("The Certainty of the Path," 1666) and the one shown here, Espejo de la Vanidad del Mundo ("Mirror of the World's Vanity," 1671). Despite Pereyra's prominence in his own time, his books have received little attention in modern scholarship. They are essentially compilations or compendia of wisdom from diverse sourcesJewish and non-Jewish, ancient, medieval, and early modernabout how to lead a pious and virtuous life.

Among the many topics he addresses is the governance of the community. Calling it a "republic" and the lay leaders "governors," he adapts early modern political philosophy and practical advice from the mirrors-for-princes genre, for the Jewish communal context. With anti-Machiavellian leanings, he inveighs against those who desired to separate religion from politics, insisting that governors must be personally pious and that government should adhere to strict religious dictates. Both books contain this kind of material, but the Espejo's treatment is greatly revised and expanded from the first, suggesting that politics were a focus of his thinking in the intervening years. Pereyra's discussions are part of a widespread discourse regarding communal politics in the Sephardi community of Amsterdam in the second half of the seventeenth century.

Jewish Physicians and Christian Patients

Among the many external influences that seriously disrupted the medical practice of Jewish physicians beyond the Jewish quarter or ghetto walls were the various prohibitions issued by town councils, territorial rulers and ecclesiastical authorities. A tacit or even open acceptance of Jewish doctors was nevertheless a widespread phenomenon - not only in German lands. The vast corpus of anti-Judaic pamphlets and books testifies to the popularity of Jewish physicians in Christian communities. Famous Jew baiters, such as Johann Jacob Schudt (1664-1722), accused Jewish doctors of harming the body and soul of their Christian patients. They corroborated their reasoning with quotations from ecclesiastical texts containing injunctions against the medical practice of Jewish physicians. Another expert on Judaism, Johann Christoph Wagenseil (1633-1705), was more lenient. He stated in his work "Feurtrag vom Juden-Teutsch" (c. 1670) that in those places where there was no Christian physician present, patients were free to consult a Jewish doctor. If however a sick person had the opportunity to choose a Christian medicus, he should do so, unless he had good reasons to consult a Jewish healer, for example in the case of a greater expertise of the latter. Nonetheless, Wagenseil made it a rule that the Jewish doctor should restrict his cure to "natural remedies".

Johann Jacob Schudt, Jüdisches Merckwürdigkeiten: Vorstellende was sich Curieuses und denckwürdiges in den neuern Zeiten

In May 1716, cities across the Holy Roman Empire celebrated the long-awaited birth of a son and heir to the throne to Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI and his wife, Elisabeth of Wolfenbüttel, with processions, illuminations and festivities of various sorts. This print depicts public celebrations held by the Jewish communities of Frankfurt and Prague. In the "Franckfurter Jüdischer Aufzug" (Frankfurt Jewish Procession) depicted above, rows of Jewish musicians lead a group of men through the city streets and into the synagogue, where, according to the accompanying text, rabbis preached sermons and psalms of thanksgiving were recite. The "Prager Jüdischer Aufzug" (Prague Jewish Procession) below shows a much more elaborately staged event, akin to a Baroque royal festival. Men on horseback lead classical and biblical figures, New World oddities, a large communal banner hoisted by the community's butchers and ritual slaughterers, rabbis and students, and more as they pass through a triumphal arch. In both cities, the political aim of showing homage to the royal family on this important occasion is coupled with a display of cultural integration including proficiency in musical, linguistic and artistic norms of the surrounding societies.

The print appeared as a fold-out insert in a small book originally published in 1716 by Christian Hebraist Johann Jacob Schudt as Jüdisches Franckfurter und Prager Freunden-Fest. In it, Schudt reprinted two publications written in German or Yiddish in Hebrew characters, one about events in Frankfurt and another from Prague. The reprinted original language of each publication is interspersed with German translations and explanations. To this, Schudt added his own highly derisive introduction, decrying the Jews' simultaneous arrogance and obsequiousness. The entire text of Jüdisches Franckfurter und Prager Freunden-Fest along with the illustration was then incorporated into the fourth volume of Schudt's monumental ethnography of Frankfurt Jewry, Jüdisches Merckwürdigkeiten, published two years later, four years after the first three volumes had appeared. Thus, celebratory events staged by Jews for Christian eyes, perhaps with Christian artistic collaboration of some sort, were reported upon and printed up by Jews for distribution and posterity, then reprinted by a Christian, with his own views added, for a mostly Christian audience that would also includeas Schudt remarks in his introduction to the fourth volume of Jüdisches Merckwürdigkeitensome Jewish readers. While David Ruderman has described "mingled identities" as a characteristic typical of Jewish life in early modern Europe, this print reveals a mingled set of lenses through which Christian and Jewish views of each other were reflected and refracted.

Sefer Mayim Rabim: Adjudicating Jewish Communal Authority in 18th Century Livorno

The Sefer Mayim Rabim (Amsterdam, 1737) is a four-volume collection of halakhic responsa by rabbi Raphael Meldola (1685-1748). Originally from Livorno, Meldola served as rabbi in Bayonne between 1721 and 1741. Despite his sometimes difficult relationship with the parnasim (lay leaders) of the Livornese Jewish community, Meldola dedicated the third and fourth parts of his Mayim Rabim, dealing with halakhic questions of Even hazer (family law) and Hoshen mishpat (civil and criminal law), to them. This Spanish "dedicatoria," which does not appear in all editions of the book, sheds light on the complexities of early modern Jewish communal authority.

In a move common to early modern dedications, Meldola confers quasi-authorship to the parnasim. Meldola states that he ought to dedicate the book to the parnasim since he received the title of "dayan" from them in March 1710. He adds that the subject of the book matches their duties, as the Livornese lay leaders can adjudicate civil causes, "a unique privilege that they enjoy, in contrast to other communities, through the special grace of His Royal Highness [the Grand Duke of Tuscany]." Most intriguingly, Meldola remarks that "a great part of the legal questions proposed in these volumes were already discussed and adjudicated in your illustrious maamad." For this reason, the book's cases will gain even greater acceptance "being res judicata." It is known, however, that the Livornese parnasim generally employed state and municipal law to adjudicate questions not strictly pertaining to the Jewish ritual sphere, such as commercial disputes in civil law cases, while the cases discussed in the volumes are approached through the lens of halakhah. Meldola's words thus offer tantalizing glimpses into possible tensions and overlaps between lay and rabbinic jurisdictions and into the competing authority of state and municipal law, on the one hand, and halakhah, on the other hand, in early modern Jewish communities.

The Copernican Turn in Early Modern Jewish Scientific Thought

Raphael Levi Hannover (1685-1779) is a figure little known today to any but a handful of Jewish historians of the early modern period. He may have been, however, the first real Jewish Copernicana true adherent of the heliocentric worldview at the center of the Scientific Revolution. In 1756 Hannover's student, Moses Yekutiel of Tiktin, published his notes on Hannover's lectures concerning astronomy, which include passages about Hannover's adoption of Copernicanism. The Katz Center at the University of Pennsylvania possesses a manuscript, possibly in Hannover's own hand, with the year "1737" stamped on its cover, with a significantly different version of Hannover's astronomical work. Among its other features is a series of illustrations showing the earlier Ptolemaic system with the earth at the center directly across from an illustration of the modern Copernican system with the sun at the center.

The Copernican Turn in Early Modern Jewish Scientific Thought

Raphael Levi Hannover (1685-1779) is a figure little known today to any but a handful of Jewish historians of the early modern period. He may have been, however, the first real Jewish Copernicana true adherent of the heliocentric worldview at the center of the Scientific Revolution. In 1756 Hannover's student, Moses Yekutiel of Tiktin, published his notes on Hannover's lectures concerning astronomy, which include passages about Hannover's adoption of Copernicanism. The Katz Center at the University of Pennsylvania possesses a manuscript, possibly in Hannover's own hand, with the year "1737" stamped on its cover, with a significantly different version of Hannover's astronomical work. Among its other features is a series of illustrations showing the earlier Ptolemaic system with the earth at the center directly across from an illustration of the modern Copernican system with the sun at the center.

Science in 18th Century Ashkenaz: Sefer Oklidus (Euclid's Elements)

On December 9 1787 the renowned English philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) was traveling through Eastern Europe, where his brother Samuel, a prominent engineer and industrialist, was serving in the employ of Prince Potemkin and the empress Catherine the Great. Jeremy spent some time with his brother hoping to implement some of the innovative ideas that he was developing in his Panopticon. In the course of a journey through the town of Slonim (now in Belarus), Jeremy lodged the night with a Jew, a rabbi who was the proprietor of a hardware store.

Bentham was surprised to note that his host possessed two glass-enclosed bookcases that housed between 250 and 300 Hebrew volumes. The rabbi took particular pride in two scientific works in his collection: a book on astronomy to which he had added a diagram of his own, and a Hebrew edition of Euclid's Elements. It is possible to identify Bentham's unnamed hardware merchant as Rabbi Samson ben Mordecai (1734/6?- 1794) who presided over the rabbinical court of Slonim and whose name was signed to one of the letters of approbation accompanying R. Baruch of Shklov's translation of Euclid.

The volume was printed in The Hague in 1780. Rabbi Samson's words echoed the themes voiced by the translator, that Jews needed to familiarize themselves with the scientific curriculum in order to refute the accusations by hostile gentiles that they are a barbaric and ignorant people. Rabbi Elijah the Gaon of Vilna (1720-1797) was the one who commissioned Rabbi Baruch (Bendit) of Shklov to produce a Hebrew translation of Euclid's Elements: a work "which elucidates the complete science of measurement, angles, rectangles, triangles, circles, ratios and values" (as it states on the title page of the book).

Science in 18th Century Ashkenaz: Sefer Oklidus (Euclid's Elements)

On December 9 1787 the renowned English philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) was traveling through Eastern Europe, where his brother Samuel, a prominent engineer and industrialist, was serving in the employ of Prince Potemkin and the empress Catherine the Great. Jeremy spent some time with his brother hoping to implement some of the innovative ideas that he was developing in his Panopticon. In the course of a journey through the town of Slonim (now in Belarus), Jeremy lodged the night with a Jew, a rabbi who was the proprietor of a hardware store.

Bentham was surprised to note that his host possessed two glass-enclosed bookcases that housed between 250 and 300 Hebrew volumes. The rabbi took particular pride in two scientific works in his collection: a book on astronomy to which he had added a diagram of his own, and a Hebrew edition of Euclid's Elements. It is possible to identify Bentham's unnamed hardware merchant as Rabbi Samson ben Mordecai (1734/6?- 1794) who presided over the rabbinical court of Slonim and whose name was signed to one of the letters of approbation accompanying R. Baruch of Shklov's translation of Euclid.

The volume was printed in The Hague in 1780. Rabbi Samson's words echoed the themes voiced by the translator, that Jews needed to familiarize themselves with the scientific curriculum in order to refute the accusations by hostile gentiles that they are a barbaric and ignorant people. Rabbi Elijah the Gaon of Vilna (1720-1797) was the one who commissioned Rabbi Baruch (Bendit) of Shklov to produce a Hebrew translation of Euclid's Elements: a work "which elucidates the complete science of measurement, angles, rectangles, triangles, circles, ratios and values" (as it states on the title page of the book).

Trees of Esoteric Knowledge

This circle at the center of this detail image from a late eighteenth century kabbalistic "ilan" scroll depicts a very early cosmogonic process, according to the Sarugian school of Lurianic kabbalah. In this pre-modern linguistic string theory, primordial points of light multiply as a result of repeated evacuations (or zimzumim) of the Ein Sof (Infinite). Though drawn to return to their infinite source, these points collide within the evacuated space, coming together to form the pointillist Hebrew letters that may be seen at the periphery.

Trees of Esoteric Knowledge

This circle at the center of this detail image from a late eighteenth century kabbalistic "ilan" scroll depicts a very early cosmogonic process, according to the Sarugian school of Lurianic kabbalah. In this pre-modern linguistic string theory, primordial points of light multiply as a result of repeated evacuations (or zimzumim) of the Ein Sof (Infinite). Though drawn to return to their infinite source, these points collide within the evacuated space, coming together to form the pointillist Hebrew letters that may be seen at the periphery.

Ashkenaz in Italy / Italy in Ashkenaz

Among the numerous editions of penitential prayers (selihot) owned by the Katz Center Library, there is one following the rite of Frankfurt am Main and published in Fürth in 1787. It forms part of at least twelve editions of six different selihot rites printed in the Franconian city in the 1780s and 1790s. Among these editions, as we learn from an advertisement in the copy at hand, was one following the rite of Venice.

Why would a printing house located in southern Germany have wanted to publish a liturgical work that catered to the Jewish population of Ashkenazi descent living in Italy at the time? That population, after all, although highly invested in preserving its own identity when it first arrived in Italy after the expulsions from most of the German cities in the course of the fifteenth century, had begun to blend into the local scene of Italian-speaking Jews by the end of the sixteenth. The reason why their selihot rite was printed in Fürth two hundred years later is given in the same ad: The Italo-Ashkenazi selihot rite was followed not only in Venice and the Italian lands, but also, and perhaps more importantly, in the Franconian communities of Ansbach and Bamberg. Most likely, the edition printed in Fürth was not meant to be marketed in Italy at all but in an area much closer to home.

How did the Jews of Ansbach and Bamberg come to use the Italo-Ashkenazi selihot rite? In fact, these selihot had been among the first Hebrew books ever printed when they appeared in Piove di Sacco in c. 1475. In the following century, as the new technology spread across Europe, additional selihot editions were published. Remarkably, while Jewish printers in Prague and Krakow each brought their own local rites to the press, the early editions published in the German lands followed the Italian model. It took until 1587 before the selihot rite of the largest community that remained in western Ashkenaz, that of Frankfurt am Main, appeared in print, and another century before it was joined by editions representing the rites of other German communities. Meanwhile, the Jews resettling the towns and villages of early modern Germany had to go by whatever was available.

Bamberg and Ansbach, it seems, had not preserved a local tradition of their own. What made local Jews choose the Italo-Ashkenazi rite we cannot know. However, we do know that they continued to follow that rite well into the nineteenth century. Thus, the selihot edition printed in Fürth testifies to the long-term impact the Ashkenazi diaspora in Italy had on their brethren elsewhere; at the same time, it offers a glimpse into the way the map of medieval Ashkenaz was redrawn in the wake of the transformationsexpulsion, migration, and the invention of printthat marked the onset of early modernity.

Ashkenaz in Italy / Italy in Ashkenaz

Among the numerous editions of penitential prayers (selihot) owned by the Katz Center Library, there is one following the rite of Frankfurt am Main and published in Fürth in 1787. It forms part of at least twelve editions of six different selihot rites printed in the Franconian city in the 1780s and 1790s. Among these editions, as we learn from an advertisement in the copy at hand, was one following the rite of Venice.

Why would a printing house located in southern Germany have wanted to publish a liturgical work that catered to the Jewish population of Ashkenazi descent living in Italy at the time? That population, after all, although highly invested in preserving its own identity when it first arrived in Italy after the expulsions from most of the German cities in the course of the fifteenth century, had begun to blend into the local scene of Italian-speaking Jews by the end of the sixteenth. The reason why their selihot rite was printed in Fürth two hundred years later is given in the same ad: The Italo-Ashkenazi selihot rite was followed not only in Venice and the Italian lands, but also, and perhaps more importantly, in the Franconian communities of Ansbach and Bamberg. Most likely, the edition printed in Fürth was not meant to be marketed in Italy at all but in an area much closer to home.

How did the Jews of Ansbach and Bamberg come to use the Italo-Ashkenazi selihot rite? In fact, these selihot had been among the first Hebrew books ever printed when they appeared in Piove di Sacco in c. 1475. In the following century, as the new technology spread across Europe, additional selihot editions were published. Remarkably, while Jewish printers in Prague and Krakow each brought their own local rites to the press, the early editions published in the German lands followed the Italian model. It took until 1587 before the selihot rite of the largest community that remained in western Ashkenaz, that of Frankfurt am Main, appeared in print, and another century before it was joined by editions representing the rites of other German communities. Meanwhile, the Jews resettling the towns and villages of early modern Germany had to go by whatever was available.

Bamberg and Ansbach, it seems, had not preserved a local tradition of their own. What made local Jews choose the Italo-Ashkenazi rite we cannot know. However, we do know that they continued to follow that rite well into the nineteenth century. Thus, the selihot edition printed in Fürth testifies to the long-term impact the Ashkenazi diaspora in Italy had on their brethren elsewhere; at the same time, it offers a glimpse into the way the map of medieval Ashkenaz was redrawn in the wake of the transformationsexpulsion, migration, and the invention of printthat marked the onset of early modernity.

Ashkenaz in Italy / Italy in Ashkenaz

Among the numerous editions of penitential prayers (selihot) owned by the Katz Center Library, there is one following the rite of Frankfurt am Main and published in Fürth in 1787. It forms part of at least twelve editions of six different selihot rites printed in the Franconian city in the 1780s and 1790s. Among these editions, as we learn from an advertisement in the copy at hand, was one following the rite of Venice.

Why would a printing house located in southern Germany have wanted to publish a liturgical work that catered to the Jewish population of Ashkenazi descent living in Italy at the time? That population, after all, although highly invested in preserving its own identity when it first arrived in Italy after the expulsions from most of the German cities in the course of the fifteenth century, had begun to blend into the local scene of Italian-speaking Jews by the end of the sixteenth. The reason why their selihot rite was printed in Fürth two hundred years later is given in the same ad: The Italo-Ashkenazi selihot rite was followed not only in Venice and the Italian lands, but also, and perhaps more importantly, in the Franconian communities of Ansbach and Bamberg. Most likely, the edition printed in Fürth was not meant to be marketed in Italy at all but in an area much closer to home.

How did the Jews of Ansbach and Bamberg come to use the Italo-Ashkenazi selihot rite? In fact, these selihot had been among the first Hebrew books ever printed when they appeared in Piove di Sacco in c. 1475. In the following century, as the new technology spread across Europe, additional selihot editions were published. Remarkably, while Jewish printers in Prague and Krakow each brought their own local rites to the press, the early editions published in the German lands followed the Italian model. It took until 1587 before the selihot rite of the largest community that remained in western Ashkenaz, that of Frankfurt am Main, appeared in print, and another century before it was joined by editions representing the rites of other German communities. Meanwhile, the Jews resettling the towns and villages of early modern Germany had to go by whatever was available.

Bamberg and Ansbach, it seems, had not preserved a local tradition of their own. What made local Jews choose the Italo-Ashkenazi rite we cannot know. However, we do know that they continued to follow that rite well into the nineteenth century. Thus, the selihot edition printed in Fürth testifies to the long-term impact the Ashkenazi diaspora in Italy had on their brethren elsewhere; at the same time, it offers a glimpse into the way the map of medieval Ashkenaz was redrawn in the wake of the transformationsexpulsion, migration, and the invention of printthat marked the onset of early modernity.

Medicalizing Jew-hatred: the case of Plica polonica

Throughout the early modern period, the matting of hair was discussed in academic literature and beyond as a medical condition pertaining to Eastern Europe. Ercole Sassonia (1551-1607), an influential professor of medicine at the University of Padua, named this condition Plica polonica, in 1600, on the basis of letters from Poland describing the consequences of matting of hair in gruesome detail. Until the second half of the 19th century, hundreds of medical treatises discussed the causes and possible treatments of this allegedly harmful condition. Due to their high visibility in the region, Jews were often identified with the condition, and a frequent designation in German was Judenzopf (Jewish plait). Ashkenazi Jews reflected non-Jewish popular medical approaches to the alleged condition in their own medical practices concerning matted hair, and a long discussion about its relevance in halakhic mattersespecially pertaining to ritual purificationsreferred to matted hair as koltunish, the Yiddish equivalent to the Polish kołtun. De Lafontaine's treatise on the matter published in 1792 included among others an etching of a Jew with matted hair and beard, reproduced here. In no small part due to the illustrations, the publication had a massive influence on the academic discussion in the early 19th century, with Charles Darwin one of the latest authors assuming an endemic and contagious character of the condition.

Little Red Haired Jews and Red Skinned American Indians

In the Yiddish novel, Kitser masoes Binyomin ha-shelishi, first published in 1878, Mendele Mokher Seforim describes the travels of Benjamin the Third who sets off in search of the legendary Little Red Jews. These are the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, the heroes of one of the most vibrant myths in Jewish culture, who are commonly referred to as royte yidelekh in Yiddish. Their unique coloring, not known from any other Jewish language, goes back to shared linguistic usage and folklore among Jews and Christians in late medieval and early modern German lands. Both German and Old Yiddish vernacular cultures were familiar with the myth of the Red Jews, a variant of the Ten Lost Tribes beyond the Sambatyon River imagined as having red hair and beards or a ruddy complexion.

Around the same time that Mendele published his novel in Eastern Europe, across the Atlantic, Charles Even wrote a novel on Red Jews of his own that he published in 1861 with Philadelphia publisher J.B. Lippincott & Co. Unrelated to the Yiddish legend, Even identified the Lost Tribes of Israel with red skinned American Indians. In a late example of the Jewish Indian theory that had been popular especially in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries among Jews and Christians in Europe and America alike, Even tells the fictional story of a group of young Jews descending from the Lost Tribes who travel to America in an exodus of their own, in search of a life in peace and safety. When they land ashore the promised land, almost starved from the long journey, they gorge poisonous berries, from which their skin miraculously turns dark red! These Red Jews then intermarry with native American women: the origin of The First of the Red Men.

Little Red Haired Jews and Red Skinned American Indians

In the Yiddish novel, Kitser masoes Binyomin ha-shelishi, first published in 1878, Mendele Mokher Seforim describes the travels of Benjamin the Third who sets off in search of the legendary Little Red Jews. These are the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, the heroes of one of the most vibrant myths in Jewish culture, who are commonly referred to as royte yidelekh in Yiddish. Their unique coloring, not known from any other Jewish language, goes back to shared linguistic usage and folklore among Jews and Christians in late medieval and early modern German lands. Both German and Old Yiddish vernacular cultures were familiar with the myth of the Red Jews, a variant of the Ten Lost Tribes beyond the Sambatyon River imagined as having red hair and beards or a ruddy complexion.

Around the same time that Mendele published his novel in Eastern Europe, across the Atlantic, Charles Even wrote a novel on Red Jews of his own that he published in 1861 with Philadelphia publisher J.B. Lippincott & Co. Unrelated to the Yiddish legend, Even identified the Lost Tribes of Israel with red skinned American Indians. In a late example of the Jewish Indian theory that had been popular especially in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries among Jews and Christians in Europe and America alike, Even tells the fictional story of a group of young Jews descending from the Lost Tribes who travel to America in an exodus of their own, in search of a life in peace and safety. When they land ashore the promised land, almost starved from the long journey, they gorge poisonous berries, from which their skin miraculously turns dark red! These Red Jews then intermarry with native American women: the origin of The First of the Red Men.

Little Red Haired Jews and Red Skinned American Indians

In the Yiddish novel, Kitser masoes Binyomin ha-shelishi, first published in 1878, Mendele Mokher Seforim describes the travels of Benjamin the Third who sets off in search of the legendary Little Red Jews. These are the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, the heroes of one of the most vibrant myths in Jewish culture, who are commonly referred to as royte yidelekh in Yiddish. Their unique coloring, not known from any other Jewish language, goes back to shared linguistic usage and folklore among Jews and Christians in late medieval and early modern German lands. Both German and Old Yiddish vernacular cultures were familiar with the myth of the Red Jews, a variant of the Ten Lost Tribes beyond the Sambatyon River imagined as having red hair and beards or a ruddy complexion.

Around the same time that Mendele published his novel in Eastern Europe, across the Atlantic, Charles Even wrote a novel on Red Jews of his own that he published in 1861 with Philadelphia publisher J.B. Lippincott & Co. Unrelated to the Yiddish legend, Even identified the Lost Tribes of Israel with red skinned American Indians. In a late example of the Jewish Indian theory that had been popular especially in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries among Jews and Christians in Europe and America alike, Even tells the fictional story of a group of young Jews descending from the Lost Tribes who travel to America in an exodus of their own, in search of a life in peace and safety. When they land ashore the promised land, almost starved from the long journey, they gorge poisonous berries, from which their skin miraculously turns dark red! These Red Jews then intermarry with native American women: the origin of The First of the Red Men.

Selected bibliography

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  • Bartal, Israel The Jews of Eastern Europe, 1772-1881 translated from Hebrew by Chaya Naor Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005
  • Beinart, Haim, ed Moreshet Sepharad (The Sephardic Legacy) Jerusalem: Magnes Press of the Hebrew University, 1992
  • Ben Naeh, Yaron Jews in the Realm of the Sultans Tuebingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008
  • Ben Sasson, Menahem, Reuven Bonfil, Joseph Hacker, eds Tarbut ve-hevrah be-toledot yisra'el bi-me ha-benayim: Kovets ma'amarim le-zikhro shel Hayim Hillel Ben Sasson Jerusalem: Merkaz Zalman Shazar le-toldot Yisra'el: ha-Hevrah ha-historit ha-Yisre'elit,1989
  • Ben-Tov, Asaph, Yaacov Deutsch, Tamar Herzig, eds Knowledge and Religion in Early Modern Europe: Studies in Honor of Michael Heyd Boston: E.J. Brill, 2013
  • Benayahu, Meir Rabbi Hayim Yosef David Azulai Jerusalem: Mosad ha-Rav Kuk,1959
  • Bonfil, Robert Rabbis and Jewish Communities in Renaissance Italy Translated from Hebrew by Jonathan Chipman Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1990
  • Bregoli, Francesca Mediterranean enlightenment: Jewish acculturation in Livorno, 1737-1790 Ph.D. thesis: University of Pennsylvania, 2007
  • Breuer, Mordechai German-Jewish History in Modern Times The Early Modern Period Edited by Michael A. Meyer New York: Columbia University Press, 1998
  • Carlebach, Elisheva Palaces of Time: Jewish Calendars and Culture in Early Modern Europe Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011
  • Chajes, Jeffrey Howard Between Worlds: Dybbuks, Exorcists, and Early Modern Judaism Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003
  • Cohen, Richard I Jewish Icons: Art and Society in Early Modern Europe Berkeley, CA.; London: University of California Press, 1998
  • Davis, Joseph The Reception of the 'Shulkhan 'arukh' and the formation of Ashkenazic Jewish Identity AJS Review 26, 2002, 251-276
  • De Prado Plumed, Jesus A Jewish Targum in a Christian world The commission of Targum manuscripts and the patronage of Christian Hebraism in sixteenth-century Castile edited by Alberdina Houtman, Eveline van Staalduine-Sulman, Hans-Martin Kirn Leiden: Brill, 2014
  • Dunkelgrün, Theodor Mapping Jewish Amsterdam: The Early Modern Perspective - Dedicated to Yosef Kaplan on the Occasion of his Retirement Like a Blind Man Judging Colors: Joseph Athias and Johannes Leusden Defend Their 1667 Hebrew Bible in Shlomo Berger, Emile Schrijver, and Irene Zwiep (eds.) Leuven: Peeters, 2012
  • Funkenstein, Amos Perceptions of Jewish History Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993
  • Goldish, Matt Jewish Questions: Responsa on Sephardic Life in the Early Modern Period Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008
  • Gondos, Andreas and Daniel Maoz, eds. From Antiquity to the Postmodern World: Contemporary Jewish Studies in Canada Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011
  • Grafton, Anthony, Joanna Weinberg, and Alastair Hamilton "I have always loved the holy tongue": Isaac Casaubon, the Jews, and a Forgotten Chapter in Renaissance Scholarship Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011
  • Greenblatt, Rachel L To Tell Their Children: Jewish Communal Memory in Early Modern Prague Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2014
  • Guesnet, Francois Agreements between neighbours: the 'ugody' as a source on Jewish-Christian relations in early modern Poland Jewish History 24, nos. 3-4, 2010, 257-270
  • Hacker, Joseph and Adam Shear, eds The Hebrew Book in Early Modern Italy Philadelphia: University of Pennsylania Press, 2011
  • Heyd, Michael Be Sober and Reasonable: The Critique of Enthusiasm in the Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries Leiden and New York: E.J. Brill, 1995
  • Hundert, Gershon David Jews in Early Modern Poland London; Portland, Or.: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 1997
  • Israel, Jonathan I European Jewry in the Age of Mercantilism, 1550-1750 3rd edition London; Portland, Or. : Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 1998
  • Israel, Uwe, Robert Jütte and Reinhold C. Mueller, eds. Interstizi: culture ebraico-cristiane a Venezia e nei suoi domini dal Medioevo all'eta moderna Roma: Edizioni di storia e letteratura, 2010
  • Lelli, Fabrizio, ed Gli ebrei nel Salento: secoli IX-XVI Galatina, It.: Congedo, 2013
  • Kaplan, Yosef An Alternative Path to Modernity: The Sephardi Diaspora in Western Europe Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2000
  • Katz, Jacob Tradition and Crisis: Jewish Society at the End of the Middle Ages translated anew from Hebrew by Bernard Cooperman New York: Schocken,1993
  • Levine-Melammed, Renee Heretics or Daughters of Israel? The Crypto-Jewish Women of Castille New York: Oxford University Press,1999
  • Levy, Avigdor, ed Jews, Turks, Ottomans: A Shared History: Fifteenth through the Twentieth Century Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2002
  • Maciejko, Pawel The Mixed Multitude: Jacob Frank and the Frankist Movement Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011
  • Manuel, Frank Edward The Broken Staff: Judaism through Christian Eyes Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992
  • Oliel-Grausz, Evelyn Transmission et Passages en Monde Juif La circulation du personnel rabbinique dans les communautes de las diaspora sepharade au xviii siecle edited by Esther Benbassa Paris: Publisud, 1997
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Contributors

Jesús de Prado Plumed - Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes & Universidad Complutense de Madrid / Maurice Amado Foundation Fellowship
Choreography
Fabrizio Lelli - University of Salento / Ella Darivoff Fellowship
Hebrew Grammar
Piet Van Boxel - University of Oxford / Dalck & Rose Feith Family Fellowship
Censorship
Pavel Sládek - Charles University, Prague / Ruth Meltzer Fellowship
Chronicling
Joanna Weinberg - University of Oxford / Ivan & Nina Ross Family Fellowship
Maharal of Prague
Jeffrey Shoulson - University of Connecticut
John Speed
Claude Stuczynski - Bar-Ilan University
The Arch
Andrea Gondos - Concordia University, Montreal
Abridgements
Theodor Dunkelgrün - University of Cambridge, Cambridge
Most Accurate
Anne Oravetz Albert - Bryn Mawr College / Louis Apfelbaum and Hortense Braunstein Apfelbaum Fellowship
Wisdom
Robert Jütte - Institut für Geschichte der Medizin, Stuttgart
Jewish Physicians
Rachel Greenblatt - Harvard Divinity School
Johann Jacob Schudt
Francesca Bregoli - Queens College, CUNY / Primo Levi Fellowship
Sefer Mayim Rabim
Matt Goldish - Ohio State University / Ruth Meltzer Fellowship
The Copernican Turn
Israel Bartal - The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Science
Yossi Chajes - University of Haifa / Robert Carrady Fellowship
Trees
Lucia Raspe - Goethe University / Albert J. Wood Fellowship
Ashkenaz
François Guesnet - University College, London
Medicalizing
Rebekka Voß - Goethe University / Golub Family Fellowship
Little

Special thanks

Leslie Vallhonrat, the Penn Libraries' exceptionally skilled Web Unit manager for designing this web exhibit and for meticulously reviewing every detail; to Ian Bogus and the staff of the Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text and Image, Edwin Deegan and Richard Griscom at the Fisher Fine Arts Library at Penn, Josef Gulka, Eri Mizukane, Bruce Nielsen, John Pollack, and Elton-John Torres for all their time and effort coordinating the digitization of images for this exhibition.