“Without Trees, the Fire Will be Extinguished”

in Beyond Expulsion

Published by Stanford University Press

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780804774420
Published online June 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780804779050 | DOI:
“Without Trees, the Fire Will be Extinguished”

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During the medieval period, Jews in the Holy Roman Empire primarily lived in urban communities in cities such as Strasbourg. When anti-Jewish sentiment intensified, however, urban Jews began to suffer. During the fourteenth century, rumors of the Black Death triggered a wave of violence and massacres against the Jews in Alsace and in Swiss cities such as Berne, Zoffingen, and Basel. Accused of poisoning the wells and blamed for the spread of the plague, Jews were either killed or forcibly driven out of their homes. These expulsions drove the Jewish population to the countryside. This chapter examines Jewish life in rural areas in the medieval Holy Roman Empire and the emergence of a new model of kehilla during the period. It also describes the city of Hagenau, one of the largest rural Jewish settlements in early modern Alsace, and looks at the networks binding Jewish communities in different parts of the Empire. Finally, the chapter considers Jacob Katz's model of kehillot, in which he ascribes a geographic unity to what proves to be a nonexistent “Ashkenaz.”.

Keywords: Strasbourg; rural areas; Jews; Holy Roman Empire; Black Death; massacres; countryside; kehilla; Ashkenaz; Hagenau

Chapter.  8330 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cultural Studies

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