Contested Rituals: Circumcision, Kosher Butchering, and Jewish Political Life in Germany, 1843-1933 (Hardback)Robin Judd (author)
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In Contested Rituals, Robin Judd shows that circumcision and kosher butchering became focal points of political struggle among the German state, its municipal governments, Jews, and Gentiles. In 1843, some German-Jewish fathers refused to circumcise their sons, prompting their Jewish communities to reconsider their standards for membership. Nearly a century later, in 1933, another blood ritual, kosher butchering, served as a political and cultural touchstone when the Nazis built upon a decades-old controversy concerning the practice and prohibited it.
In describing these events and related controversies that raged during the intervening years, Judd explores the nature and escalation of the ritual debates as they transcended the boundaries of the local Jewish community to include non-Jews who sought to protect, restrict, or prohibit these rites. Judd argues that the ritual debates grew out of broad shifts in German politics: the competition between local and regional authority following unification, the possibility of government intervention in private affairs, the place of religious difference in the modern age, and the relationship of the German state to its religious and ethnic minorities, including Catholics. Anti-Semitism was only one factor driving the debates and it often functioned in unexpected ways. Judd gives us a new understanding of the formation of German political systems, the importance of religious practices to Jewish political leadership, the interaction of Jews with the German government, and the reaction of Germans of all faiths to political change.
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Number of pages: 296
Weight: 539 g
Dimensions: 235 x 156 x 25 mm
"It seems as if no public discussion of Jewish circumcision or kosher slaughtering in Germany in the nineteenth or twentieth centuries has escaped Robin Judd's attention. She brings these sources together in a coherent and well-written account of a provocative, and at times bloody topic. Beyond the intricacies and intrigue of individual cases, negotiations about ritual slaughter and circumcision amounted to an assertive new politics for German Jews. Contested Rituals demonstrates the unusual alliances forged both within and beyond the Jewish community."-David N. Myers, Professor of History and Director of the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies, UCLA
"Contested Rituals is a crucially important book that gives us for the first time a story of Jewish assimilation and integration in Germany told as a story about Jewish ritual. Robin Judd recreates the discourse around circumcision and ritual slaughter, and the politics of their acceptance and rejection, to explain the formation of the Jewish community in the context of emancipation, shifting politics, war, democracy, and the rise of National Socialism. Judd shows that the question of Jewish ritual was caught up in the maelstrom of German culture and politics more generally. Contested Rituals is a fine example of the complicated, truthful new German Jewish history."-Helmut Walser Smith, Martha Rivers Ingram Professor of History and Director of the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities, Vanderbilt University