JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: European Education #general

Lifshitz-Krams Anne

Once again I enter late in a debate, and some of my comments have probably
been already given.
Your friend may be a teacher but she is an ignorant.
Concerning the possibility to trace the Jews living in Europe during the
sixteenth century, a lot of families who were living in Metz, in Alsace or
in the Comtat Venaissin are known, the same for Livourne or other places in
Europe. One of the reason is that they had to be authorized to live there
and had to pay special taxes. So there are official papers in Archives
concerning them. For instance the Ghetto of Cavaillon was opened in 1453,
the one in Carpentras in 1461. In 1600, 450 Jews were living in Carpentras.
In Bordeaux, the oldest naturalization papers (lettres de naturalite) are
dated 1550 (see G. Nahon). An other source are cemetaries. An other very
important source are the notarial archives (notarial acts concerning the
Jews of Orange >from the 14th century exist in Rome). In Portugal, a source
is the Inquisition proceedings.
Concerning the fact that Jews could not write or read, it is really
ridiculous : very few Jewish registers have been preserved, but the reason
is not that they were illiterate. Most of the male Jews could read in Hebrew
: they had to do so for their Barmitzva. Communities were organized, and
each had a rabbi, a court, a treasurer. All these people at least could read
and write.
The 10-16th centuries are for the Jews the great period of intellectual
movements, >from Rashi to Isaac Louria a lot of texts influencing not only
the Jews have been written. Would they have been published and have such an
influence if nobody could read them? A lot of books have been published
concerning the organization of the communities as well as concerning the
intellectual movements.
Some titles in English (there are a lot of others if you can read French):
A.Agus, "the heroic Age of Franco German Jewry", NY, Yeshiva UP, 1969; R
Chazan, "Medieval Jewry in Northern France: a Political and Social History",
Baltimore, The John Hopkins UP, 1973; J Edwards, "The Jews in Christian
Europe", 1400-1700, London, NY, Routledge, 1988...

Anne Lifshitz-Krams

I was telling a friend that another friend has traced their family
back to the 1500's. My friend told me that this was impossible because
that period of time was considered the Dark Ages and that written records
were not kept and that there was no possible way of this person or any
person going back that far in search for a Jewish family. She, being a
teacher, told me that the Jews back then did not write or read. I know
that this sounds ridiculous but I must check it out. I have searched my
personal library but unfortunately I cannot find any information on this

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