IN 1215, THE POPE issues a decree that Jews must wear special marks on their dress to distinguish them more clearly from Christians. The Church wants to prevent Christians from unknowingly associating with Jews. These discriminating dress marks differ from place to place: sometimes Jews have to wear a yellow or red badge on their dress, sometimes a pointed hat, the so-called "Jew hat."
Not only dress marks are used to separate Jews from Christians. More and more, Jews are forced to live together in isolation, in ghettos closed off by walls. As ghettos are usually not allowed to extend, they become increasingly crowded
The most far-reaching act of discrimination concerns an even more basic right: Jews do not receive permission for permanent residence in towns and villages. As they have been forced more and more into trade, peddling and money lending, Jews are admitted to towns for limited periods only when economic development demands more trade and credit. They have to pay extra taxes. When the economic situation changes or local merchants have fallen too deeply into debts, the permits are not extended. Often, Jews are simply expelled.
Many communities have to pay taxes to the king or prince in return for their protection. In the German states, Jews are considered property of the emperor who sells the right to tax them to local princes and bishops. Often, Jewish communities are caught between the rival economic interests of townspeople and the local princes who "own" the Jews.
DURING THE SECOND HALF of the Middle Ages, towns grow and trade expands. Many economic functions the Jews had fulfilled in the past are taken over by other groups. More and more professions and crafts are organized in guilds. As only guild members are allowed to practice in these professions, and new members have to pledge an oath on the Bible, Jews are effectively excluded from membership.
In Western and Central Europe, Jews are driven from one occupation after another. Only trade and money-lending remains open to them. Many Jewish communities sink into poverty, and only a few continue to prosper. As the Church forbids Christians to lend money against interest, but the need for credit in the expanding economy increases, Jews are often the only ones to provide loans. Interest on loans is high because of the risks involved and the lack of capital.
Jews become identified with "usury," the lending of money against excessive interest. Another stereotype of "the Jew" is created against the background of the same economic circumstances: the Jews as poor peddlers of second-hand articles. These two contradictory images of the Jews, the harsh and unfair moneylender and the poor and untrustworthy peddler, survive into the 20th century - long after their origins in religious intolerance and economic marginalization have disappeared
The Jewish Community
COMMUNITIES ARE AT THE CENTER of Jewish life in the Diaspora. In the Middle Ages, communities are usually very small, comprising one or two dozen families. In the larger cities, they can comprise a population of several thousand.
Being outsiders in the feudal order of the times, Jews enjoy a large degree of autonomy in regulating their own affairs. Communities raise taxes to pay for synagogues and cemeteries, for the employment of rabbis and teachers, and to feed and house the poor. They are administered by elders elected by members who also vote on the community's statutes.
Crimes inside the community and legal disputes between members are resolved by Rabbinical courts. There is no police force and no prisons. Courts punish by imposing fines or by banning perpetrators from the community temporarily or permanently.
Реферат опубликован: 25/03/2009