The Jews of Western Europe

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Doniel Karp

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10 Questions

What are the two main groups of Jews in Europe known as?

Ashkenazim and Sephardim

What is the significance of understanding the Jewish journey in Europe for those living as Jews in Britain today?

The majority of Jews in Britain today descend from the European communities, making it important to understand the Jewish journey in Europe.

Why did the Jewish merchants tend to follow the triumphant Roman armies as they marched through France and Germany?

They became more and more successful and established Jewish communities in Italy, Germany, and France.

How were the Jews welcomed to Europe and what changed?

At first, the Jews lived in peace with the Franks and other Germans. However, some leaders of the Church perceived that Jews were a danger and that they were competing with Christianity and trying to get Christians to convert to Judaism – and that untrue message spread intolerance and hatred.

What is a blood- libel and what is a famous example of one?

False stories about Jews killing non-Jews which began spreading around Europe. One of the most famous blood libels, was that Jews would use the blood of Christian babies to bake Matza for Pesach

What were some of the challenges faced by the Ashkenazi Jews of France and Germany during the Dark Ages?

They lived in constant fear, were confined to ghettos, and were not allowed to mix with the local population.

What is a ghetto?

Closed off community away from the rest of the population

What was the language that the Ashkenazi Jews of France and Germany spoke, and how did it evolve?

They spoke German, which soon mixed with some Hebrew expressions and became Yiddish.

Who was Rabbeinu Gershom ben Yehudah, and what was his significance during the Dark Ages?

He was a hugely important Torah scholar who helped keep Judaism alive by tirelessly teaching the Jews of Germany.

Why did many of the Jews who had suffered under the Anti-Semitism of Germany wander east to Poland?

They were eagerly welcomed by the Polish kings who thought the Jews would bring wealth to Poland.

Explore the formation of Jewish communities in medieval Europe and their significance to the Jewish journey in Britain today. Learn about the expansion of Jewish communities beyond the Middle East and their impact on European history.

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