Czech Landscape, Habsburg Crown

Hillel J. Kieval

in Languages of Community

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2000 | ISBN: 9780520214101
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520921160 | DOI:
Czech Landscape, Habsburg Crown

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter discusses the origins of the Jewish communities of Bohemia and Moravia. It reports that traditions in each of these lands attest to the existence of Jewish colonies attached to the camps of Roman soldiers, but no written records of such early settlement have survived. It discusses preemancipatory times, where knowledge of Jewish “distinctiveness” are derived from two “observations”: that Jews deployed a private, communal language—Western Yiddish, or Judendeutsch—and that they lived their lives within the structures of a “foreign” religious discourse—rabbinic Judaism. It notes that these observations, together with subsidiary markers, such as dress, residential and occupational patterns, and accented speech, set the Jews apart not only as different from other inhabitants of the Czech lands but as members of a distinctive community, bound together by complex and exclusive social relationships and possessing and transmitting a coherent set of historical memories.

Keywords: Jewish communities; Bohemia; Moravia; Western Yiddish; Judendeutsch; rabbinic Judaism

Chapter.  11343 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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