Glick's examination of the social experience of Jews living among Christians in medieval Europe is fascinating. A social historian and anthropologist at Hampshire College, Glick looks at the "ways in which European Jewish culture, identity, and experience were molded in the crucible of western Christendom." He believes modern-day Jewish "cultural psychology" arose from "a patterned set of behavioral dispositions and values, reflecting the historical experience and adaptive strategies of Ashkenazic Jewry" in the Franco-German region. (Glick's account is unique in that he intentionally overlooks Jewish Spain, a popular focus of other scholars.) The Crusades, the Jews' relegation from merchants to moneylenders, and Jewish settlement in and subsequent expulsion from England allow Glick to realize his hypothesis. Glick makes this history come alive. An excellent choice for academic, seminary, and public libraries.
SynopsisHe demonstrates that Ashkenazic Jewish culture was profoundly shaped and conditioned by life in an overwhelmingly Christian society. Drawing on diverse Christian documents, he portrays Christian beliefs about medieval Jews and Judaism with a degree of detail seldom found in Jewish historics. Emphasizing social, political, and economic history, but also duscussing religious topics, Glick describes the evolution of a complex, inherently unequal relationship. Because the Ashkenazic Jews of medieval Europe were ancestral to almost the entire Jewish population of eastern Europe, their historical experience played a major role in the heritage of most Jewish Americans. - from Library Journal