28 March 2022 | 6.15 pm

Vienna Jewish Studies Colloquium (VJSC)

Approaching the Manuscript Heritage of Western Ashkenazi Yeshiva

Carsten Wilke, Central European University

Universität Wien
Juridicum, Schottenbastei 10-16, Hörsaal U 11

Anmeldung: rechtsgeschichte@univie.ac.at

Link: https://univienna.zoom.us/j/64905356844?pwd=aU5hck5uZWhCRWRjTnEyLzRxVWxVZz09  

ABSTRACT | Talmudic academies reached a late bloom in the Germanic lands between 1713, when Abraham Broda arrived as chief rabbi in Frankfurt-on-the-Main, and the closure of the Fürth Yeshiva in 1830 by Bavarian state authorities. The populous community of Talmud students or _bachurim_ practiced an educational culture that was quite distinct from Christian universities and Haskalah education, yet included moments of convergence. Based on literary and archival studies that I having in the past undertaken on the last generation of Western Ashkenazi yeshivot, I will in this lecture present its manuscript legacy as a source for further research on Jewish higher learning. Lecture notes, student essays, correspondence, and memoirs add up to a plentiful and attractive corpus, whose access is, however, largely foreclosed due to the difficult Hebrew-Aramaic-German idiom of these sources, their daunting cursive handwriting, their complicated legal casuistry, and their incoherent transmission in community and family archives. Long-neglected, these dispersed papers may soon receive a better attention. New digitization projects have made much material accessible; sources from rural genizot and Nazi-plundered archives have come to light; and the Haredi community experiences an upsurge in manuscript collecting and biographical curiosity, as the popular auction portal "bidspirit.com" shows. In this lecture, I will present examples of the sources and discuss ways of exploring them in collaboration between academic historians and yeshiva scholars.

BIO | Carsten Wilke is professor at the Departments of History and Medieval Studies at Central European University. He ist the author of Jüdisch-christliches Doppelleben im Barock (Peter Lang, 1994); "Den Talmud und den Kant": Rabbinerausbildung an der Schwelle zur Moderne (Olms, 2003); Biographisches Handbuch der Rabbiner (Part I, Saur, 2004); Histoire des juifs portugais (Chandeigne, 2007, 3rd edition 2021); The Marrakesh Dialogues (Brill, 2014); and Farewell to Shulamit: Spatial and Social Diversity in the Song of Songs (De Gruyter, 2017). He has been a member of research institutions in Paris, Mexico City, Duisburg, and Philadelphia. In 2022-2023, he will be a fellow of the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem.