Medieval Jewish Culture

In Muslim and Christian lands.

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The Jews did not resent this status. It provided them with the opportunity to maintain their religion. The synagogue remained the center of Jewish life. The Jews administered their own laws, based on religious law. Virtually all legal disputes were resoled within the Jewish community in Jewish courts before Jewish justices.

But the kehillah was insular. In the German lands and Poland there was neither the love of secular learning nor the embrace of sciences that characterized Sephardic Jewry. On the other hand, the rapid dispersion of printing drove the wide dissemination of rabbinic literature and from the sixteenth century on, typical Ashkenazi Jewish education dealt exclusively albeit enthusiastically with Jewish textual study. The goal of most Ashkenazi families was to produce religiously devout, learned men whose economic needs could be met by inheriting a family business or by an advantageous marriage.

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