“A landmark history of the antisemitic blood libel myth—how it took root in Europe, spread with the invention of the printing press, and persists today. Accusations that Jews ritually killed Christian children emerged in the mid-twelfth century, following the death of twelve-year-old William of Norwich, England, in 1144. Later, continental Europeans added a destructive twist: Jews murdered Christian children to use their blood. While charges that Jews poisoned wells and desecrated the communion host waned over the years, the blood libel survived.
Initially blood libel stories were confined to monastic chronicles and local lore. But the development of the printing press in the mid-fifteenth century expanded the audience and crystallized the vocabulary, images, and “facts” of the blood libel, providing a lasting template for hate. Tales of Jews killing Christians—notably Simon of Trent, a toddler whose body was found under a Jewish house in 1475—were widely disseminated using the new technology. Following the paper trail across Europe, from England to Italy to Poland, Magda Teter shows how the blood libel was internalized and how Jews and Christians dealt with the repercussions. The pattern established in early modern Europe still plays out today. In 2014 the Anti-Defamation League appealed to Facebook to take down a page titled “Jewish Ritual Murder.” The following year white supremacists gathered in England to honor Little Hugh of Lincoln as a sacrificial victim of the Jews. Based on sources in eight countries and ten languages, Blood Libel captures the long shadow of a pernicious myth.”
“An intellectual tour de force. This authoritative study of the blood libel and its ramifications in early modern Europe will become a classic.”—Ronnie Po-Chia Hsia, author of Trent 1475: Stories of a Ritual Murder Trial
“A work of wide-ranging research, great insight, and remarkable erudition. This will be the definitive book on blood libel for a long time to come, equally important for readers of Jewish history and Christian history in early modern Europe.”—Larry Wolff, author of Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment
“In this deeply researched and meticulously argued book, Magda Teter offers the first comprehensive study of the origins and afterlife of one of the most virulent and harmful of all anti-Jewish accusations. But Blood Libel is far more than a narrative history. By highlighting the central role of printed books, broadsheets, and images in the dissemination of the libel, Teter illuminates the mechanisms by which hate can be generated, and offers a powerful and sobering lesson for our own time.”—Sara Lipton, author of Dark Mirror: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Semitic Iconography
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Fordham University is excited to welcome Dr. Marc Herman as the first joint Rabin-Shvidler Post-doctoral Fellow in Jewish Studies at Fordham and Columbia. Dr. Herman received his PhD in 2016 from the University of Pennsylvania, where he wrote his dissertation on rabbinic jurisprudence in the medieval Islamic world. His presence will add new dimensions to the teaching of the medieval period in Jewish history, to comparative legal studies, and the intersection of Jewish life and Islamic jurisprudence. At Fordham he teaches the courses “Ancient and Medieval Jewish History” and “Islam and Judaism: Law and Religion.”
The fellowship and awards are made possible by the Stanley A. and Barbara B. Rabin Postdoctoral Fellowship Fund at Columbia University and the Eugene Shvidler Gift Fund at Fordham University. Continue reading →
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“Passover and Easter: A Polemical Encounter” is an exhibit currently open at Walsh Library in the O’Hare Special Collection room, mounted by Dr. Magda Teter Shvidler Chair in Judaic Studies and Professor of History. This exhibit explores the history of Easter and Passover through manuscripts, books, and ephemera, with a particular emphasis on the biblical texts related to the holidays and several Haggadot, the sacred text read during the Passover Seder. Among the items on display are engravings from two editions of the famous 15th century world chronicle that portray the bleeding of a child, with images of Jews as grotesque characters, the Easter issue of an Italian magazine, La difesa della razza (The Defense of Race), from 1940 that once again return to the theme of blood libel; German currency from 1922 that celebrates burning Jews, and an 1884 parody of the Haggadah by German artist Carl Maria Seyppel. Tom Stoelker wrote an in depth article about the exhibit which can be read by following this link to the Center of Medieval Studies Venerable Blog.
Dr. Magda Teter
A Dramatic Reading of Burning Words: A History Play by Peter Wortsman
Dr. Magda Teter will be involved in Burning Words: A History Play, offering scholarly commentary during the multimedia reading. The play is about about zealotry, censorship, and religious tolerance, and recounts the moment in history when “Johannes Reuchlin, a humanist Christian jurist, clashed with Johannes Pfefferkorn, a Jewish butcher converted to Christianity and a willing tool of the Dominican Order in their quest to burn Jewish books. ” Dr. Teter recently gave a lecture entitled “From Friendship to Hatred: The Catholic Church and the Jews” at the University of New Mexico as part of the AJS Distinguished Lecture Series.
The play will take place on April 3, 2016 at 2:30 pm at The Center for Jewish History (15 West 16th Street New York, New York 10011)
Ticket Info: $15 general; $10 Leo Baeck Institute / Center for Jewish History members