Divided Souls: Converts from Judaism in Germany, 1500–1750

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Abstract

Unlike the Sephardim, who accepted the concept of taqiyya and the practice of marranism to cope with forced conversions under Islam, the Ashkenazim, especially the Jewish communities of Germanophone Central Europe, developed an uncompromising rejection of Christian baptism. Instead of marranism and deception under Islam, the Ashkenazim, in the persecutions of the Crusades and after, developed a strong sense of martyrdom and detested baptism, whether forced or voluntary, as ritual and spiritual defilement and pollution. The small number of Jewish converts to Christianity were not so much sinners but apostates (meshummadim or the vertilgten). Given this Ashkenazi tradition, it is not surprising that converts were marginalized in Jewish historiography and scholarship. Nevertheless, as Carlebach argues persuasively in this book, they played a significant role in Jewish–Christian relations in early modern Germany; and given the fact that conversions rose rapidly in the late eighteenth century, it is all the more important to understand the prehistory of Jewish conversion and integration in Germany after Emancipation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)388-389
Number of pages2
JournalAJS Review
Volume29
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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