The Jews during the Middle Ages made extensive use of a detailed codex of ‘laws’ relating to meals during weekdays, the Sabbath, and holidays, as well as ‘laws’ regarding the abstention from eating during a fast. In this research I will present a view of these ‘laws’ in light of the innovations and changes that arose throughout the Middle Ages in ceremonies and customs relating to eating and fasting. In my opinion, these ceremonies and customs – closely connected to the Jewish community’s process of coping with the Christian environment in which it existed – have much to teach us concerning the social and communal development of medieval Jewish society. This research will concentrate on Germany, northern France, and England up to the time of the Jewish expulsions from each region, at the end of the thirteenth century and middle of the fourteenth century.
According to Emil Durkheim, religion is a united system of sacrificial commandments and acts that create a moral community, and as Simha Goldin has shown, this theory fits very well with the customs of the Jewish community in medieval Ashkenaz. In this paper I want to show how ritual wine drinking in the synagogue on Sabbath and the holidays functioned as a unifying act, and had the same function as the guilds in E. Coornaert’s theory. In doing so, I prove that, unlike what was premised, in the act of benediction of the Sabbath in the synagogue, a child was the only person who drank the wine, it was indeed an act in which all the community participated. In doing so, the whole community drank from one big goblet as was done in drinking ceremonies of the guilds. Thus, drinking wine every Friday night served as a guild ceremony in the Jewish communities in medieval Ashkenaz.
Many of France’s culinary practices today have their roots in the Middle Ages. This paper will examine the historical development of French foods and customs, particularly focusing on their origins in medieval gastronomy in France, Jewish kosher laws, and the Christian church. Jews of medieval France – particularly in the Alsace region – had many points of social and cultural contact with their Christian neighbors, and a thorough study of the two groups’ dietary laws, foods, customs, and interactions can provide great insight into their relationships and overlapping influences. This paper will make a sociocultural analysis of the religious standards of that era in order to show the mutual influences, points of contact, combinations and even rival relations between France and the cuisines of its various religious communities.