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A Goy Who Speaks YiddishChristians and the Jewish Language in Early Modern Germany$
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Aya Elyada

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780804781930

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804781930.001.0001

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Introduction: Yiddish in the Socioeconomic Sphere

Introduction: Yiddish in the Socioeconomic Sphere

(p.81) Introduction: Yiddish in the Socioeconomic Sphere
A Goy Who Speaks Yiddish
Stanford University Press

The late medieval obsession with ritual murder and desecration of the host was replaced by new forms of intolerance of Jews in early modern Germany. The new argument was that the Jews posed a danger not only in theology but also in the social and political spheres. The socioeconomic discourse of the German Jews involved stereotypes that often saw them as defrauders and thieves. Thus, the socioeconomic discourse on the Jews during the period links religious animosity with economic and social concerns. In particular, this was manifested in the commonly held belief that the Jews had a tendency to commit fraud, deception, and other forms of criminality because of their will to gain economic profit as well as their desire to hurt Christians and Christian institutions. Both the Yiddish language and Yiddish literature occupied a central place in Jewish social and economic behavior: Yiddish was the language of Jewish commerce and Jewish criminality, used in trickster narratives and outright criminological writings.

Keywords:   Jews, Germany, criminality, commerce, Yiddish language, Yiddish literature, socioeconomic discourse, fraud, deception, stereotypes

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