Jewish Work and Jewish Identity in the Middle Ages

A webinar with JTS alum Dr. Jonathan Ray, Samuel Eig Professor of Jewish Studies, Georgetown University.

Part of our series “Six Days Shall You Labor”: Perspectives on Work in Jewish Text and Tradition

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This session was generously sponsored by Susan and Stan Tenenbaum.

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In the Middle Ages, the Jews were as much identified by their economic roles as they were by their religion. Traditionally, Christian histories emphasized Jews’ association with moneylending, while Jewish histories have tended to depict medieval Jews as scholars, diplomats, and long-distance merchants. Yet while such characterizations of Jewish occupations have enjoyed remarkable popularity, both give an incomplete and misleading portrait of medieval Jewish life.

This session explored the disconnect between Jewish identity and Jewish work in the medieval world.