Conversion, Circumcision, and Ritual Murder in Medieval Europe




Paola Tartakoff of Rutgers University discusses her new book, “Conversion, Circumcision, and Ritual Murder in Medieval Europe,” which explores the “Norwich Circumcision Case” from multiple perspectives.

In England in 1234, Jews were accused of having abducted and circumcised a five-year-old Christian boy. As a result of this charge, Jews were executed, and Jewish homes were looted and torched. Christian accounts of this case have accused Jews of attempting to convert the boy or to crucify the boy to mock the crucifixion of Jesus.

Dr. Tartakoff’s analysis brings to light new data on Christian conversion to Judaism in medieval Europe. It explains links between accusations of circumcision and accusations of ritual murder, and it exposes the predicaments of children whose religious identities Jews and Christians contested. Through her investigation, Professor Tartakoff proposes a solution to the mystery surrounding the events of 1234.

This event was sponsored by The JTS Library. Dr. David Kraemer, Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and professor of Talmud and Rabbinics, JTS, served as moderator.

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