Ashkenaz at the Crossroads of Cultural Transfer II: Tradition and Identity

Ashkenaz at the Crossroads of Cultural Transfer II: Tradition and Identity

Dr. Saskia Dönitz, Prof. Elisabeth Hollender, Prof. Rebekka Voß, Seminar für Judaistik, Goethe Universität Frankfurt
Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main
Frankfurt am Main
From - Until
28.11.2016 - 30.11.2016
Dr. Saskia Dönitz, Seminar für Judaistik, Goethe Universität Frankfurt

Cultural transfer has a variety of dimensions. The first conference “Ashkenaz at the Crossroads of Cultural Transfer”–which was held successfully with 25 international presenters at Goethe-University in November 2012–provided a forum for delineating the main contours of cultural transfer and their implications in medieval and early modern Ashkenaz (i.e. Central and Eastern Europe in Jewish spatial language). In the follow-up conference proposed here, we seek to substantially deepen one significant aspect of cultural transfer that was observed but not explored in detail at our gathering in 2012: cultural transfer in time, the temporal element which is crucial for identity and self-understanding in Ashkenazic Jewish society. The cultural objects involved in transfer over time within Ashkenazic space include a variety of texts, oral teachings, rituals, intellectual concepts, and beliefs that usually are grouped under the heading “tradition.” These elements have often been treated as the stable foundation of Ashkenazic Jewish identity which needs no explanation. As such, modern scholars tend to view them as constants in Ashkenazic culture throughout time. This second conference on “Ashkenaz at the Crossroads of Cultural Transfer II: Tradition and Identity” questions this assumption of stasis: we will probe the dynamics of the many components that define Ashkenazic culture and examine them longitudinally, from their origins to their development and influence over the centuries.



09:15-10:00 a.m.
Saskia Dönitz, Elisabeth Hollender, Rebekka Voß (Frankfurt): Welcome and Introduction

10:00-10:30 a.m.

Session 1

10:30-11:10 a.m.
Elisheva Baumgarten (Jerusalem): Biblical Models Transformed: A Useful Key to Everyday Life in Medieval Ashkenaz

11:10-11:50 a.m.
Sarah Japhet (Jerusalem): Biblical Exegesis as a Vehicle of Cultural Adaptation and Integration: A Case Study

11:50-12:30 p.m.
Oren Roman (Düsseldorf): Tanakh-Epos: Early Modern Ashkenazic Retellings of Biblical Scenes

12:30-02:00 p.m.
Lunch Break

Session 2

02:00-02:40 p.m.
Talya Fishman (Philadelphia): Cultural Functions of Masorah in Medieval Ashkenaz

02:40-03:20 p.m.
Hanna Liss (Heidelberg): The Challenges of the Infiltration of Oriental Textual Tradition into Ashkenazi Bible Text Tradition

03:20-03:50 p.m.

Session 3

03:50-04:30 p.m.
Ephraim Kanarfogel (New York City): Moving from the Medieval to the Early Modern in Rabbinic Scholarship and Method: Aryeh Leib Heller’s Use of Texts of the Rishonim in His Qezot ha-Hoshen

04:30-05:10 p.m.
Ted Fram (Beer Sheva): What Divides Ashkenaz from Poland in the Sixteenth Century?

05:30 p.m.
Transfer to the Jewish Museum

Public Lecture in the Jewish Museum (Judengasse)

06:00-07:00 p.m.
Katrin Kogman-Appel (Münster): The Visualization of Midrash in Medieval Jewish Art

07:00 p.m.


Session 4

09:00-09:40 a.m.
Rami Reiner (Beer Sheva): The Yerushalmi on Rabbeinu Tam’s Bookshelf

09:40-10:20 a.m.
Ronit Nikolsky (Groningen): Tanhuma Reception in Ashkenaz

10:20-11:00 a.m.
Joshua Teplitsky (Stony Brook, NY): Collecting, Nostalgia, and Constructing Medieval Ashkenaz in the Oppenheim Library

11:00-11:20 a.m.

Session 5

11:20-12:00 a.m.
David Shyovitz (Chicago): “Man and Beast You Redeem, Oh Lord”: Animal Eschatology in the Theology and Art of Medieval Ashkenaz

12:00-12:40 p.m.
Rebekka Voß (Frankfurt): The Last King of Edom: The Jewish Last Emperor Prophecy from the Early Middle Ages through the Sixteenth Century

12:40-02:00 p.m.
Lunch Break

Session 6

02:00-02:40 p.m.
Ephraim Shoham-Steiner (Beer Sheva): The Development of the Term “Hasid”

02:40-03:20 p.m.
Avriel Bar Levav (Ra’anana): Sefer Hasidim as Source of Early Modern Death Rituals

03:20-04:00 p.m.
Maoz Kahana (Tel Aviv): The Stormy Afterlife of a Medieval Pious: Rabbi Yehuda He-Chassid’s Will in the Early Modern Era

04:00-04:30 p.m.

Session 7

04:30-05:10 p.m.
Annelies Kuyt (Frankfurt): Hekhalot! Or not? Eleazar of Worms and Hekhalot Literature

05:10-05:50 p.m.
Sharon Flatto (New York City): Jewish Mysticism in Early Modern Central Europe (esp. Prague)

07:00 p.m.
Dinner (by invitation)


Session 8

09:30-10:10 a.m.
Israel Yuval (Jerusalem): Why the Jews Do Not Have an Oedipal Complex? The Case of Ashkenaz

10:10-10:50 a.m.
Saskia Dönitz (Frankfurt): Ashkenazic Use of the Past: Rewriting Second Temple Literature

10:50-11:20 a.m.

Session 9

11:20-12:00 a.m.
Claudia Rosenzweig (Ramat Gan): When the Prayer Needs a Story: Some Examples from Yiddish Literature (16-17th Century)

12:00-12:40 p.m.
Lucia Raspe (Frankfurt/Berlin): Minhagim Books: From Hebrew to Yiddish

12:40-01:00 p.m.
Concluding Discussion

01:00 p.m.
End of Conference/ Lunch

For those interested
02:30 p.m.
Guided tour at the Jewish Museum/Judengasse (duration: 1,5 hours)

Contact (announcement)

For further information please contact Dr. Saskia Dönitz (
Visitors of the conference please register until November 23rd at
Externe Besucher melden sich bitte bis zum 23. November an unter
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