"An acknowledged classic. Katz has transformed our conception of
Jewish history from the 16th to the 18th century. Because of his
work, we now understand that the ghetto was no longer sealed off at
that time from outside opinions and that the movement towards
modernity had begun long before the Jews were actually legally
emancipated. Making this work available again in the revised
edition is a service to scholarship and to public
"Since it first appeared in Hebrew in 1958, "Tradition and
Crisis" has had a tremendous impact on generations of students and
scholars. Katz's innovative use of sources has introduced scholars
to new methodologies and opened new vistas for research. This new,
unabridged translation is therefore highly welcome. It will ensure
its continued use in the English-speaking world."
--Jehuda Reinharz, Richard Koret Professor of Modern Jewish
History, Brandeis University
"Like a lovingly restored painting, Bernard Cooperman's new,
annotated translation of Jacob Katz's classic portrait of early
Jewish modernity can now be fully appreciated for the first time.
An admirable achievement."
--Ivan G. Marcus
When it first appeared in Hebrew in 1958 and in English in 1961,
Tradition and Crisis, Jacob Katz's groundbreaking study of Jewish
society at the end of the Middle Ages, dramatically changed our
perceptions of the Jewish community prior to the era of modernity.
This new, unabridged translation by Bernard Dov Cooperman makes
this classic available to new generations of students and scholars,
together with Katz's original source notes, and an afterword and an
updating bibliographic appendix by Professor Cooperman.
Katz revolutionized the field by tapping into a rich and
hitherto unexplored source for reconstructing the sociology of a
previous era: the responsa literature of the Rabbinic establishment
during the Middle Ages. The self-governing communities of Jews in
Europe dealt with issues both civil and religious. The questions
and answers addressed to the rabbinic authorities and courts
provide an incomparable wealth of insights into life as it was
lived in this period and into the social, historical, cultural, and
economic issues of the day.
How did European Jewry progress from a socially and culturally
segregated society to become a component of European society at
large? What were Jewish attitudes toward the Gentile world from
which Jewry had been secluded for centuries? What were the bridges
from the old to the new era?
Tradition and Crisis traces the roots of modernity to internal
developments within the communities themselves. Katz traces the
modern movements of the Haskalah (Enlightenment) in the West and
Hasidism in the East, to an internal breakdown in the structure of
these communities and the emergence of an alternative leadership in
the wake of the Sabbatian challenge.
A dynamic work that has radically changed our view of this history,
Tradition and Crisis remains the pivotal text for understanding the
revolution in the entire conception of Jewish identity in the
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