The Jews of Germany by Ruth Gay
A Historical Portrait

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This book provides a panoramic overview of a now extinct culture: the 1500-year history of the Jews in Germany. Through texts, pictures and contemporary accounts, it follows the German Jews from their first settlements on the Rhine in the fourth century to the destruction of the community in World War II. Using both voices and images of the past the book reveals how the German Jews looked, how they lived, what they thought about, and what others thought of them. Ruth Gay's text, interwoven with passages from memoirs, letters, newspapers and other contemporary sources, shows how the German Jews organized their communities, created a new language (Yiddish), and built their special culture - all this under circumstances sometimes friendly but often hostile. The book explores the internal debates that agitated the community from medieval to modern times and analyzes how German Jewry emerged into the modern world. The earliest document in the book is a fourth-century decree by the Roman Emperor Constantine permitting Jews to hold office in Cologne. Among the last are letters from Betty Scholem in Berlin, writing during the Nazi years to her son in Gershom in Palestine. In between are accounts of a ninth-century Jewish merchant appointed by Charlemagne to a diplomatic mission to Baghdad, a 13th-century Jewish minnesinger, a 17th-century pogrom in Frankfurt in which gentiles helped to save their Jewish neighbours and the 19th-century innovation of department stores.

About Ruth Gay

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The late Ruth Gay wrote extensively on Jewish history. Her books include "Safe Among the Germans: Liberated Jews After World War II" and "The Jews of Germany: A Historical Portrait," both published by Yale University Press. Sophie Glazer's articles have appeared in "The Boston Review," "The Forward," "Commentary," and "The American Scholar," She lives in Fort Wayne.
Published July 29, 1992 by Yale University Press. 297 pages
Genres: History, Travel. Non-fiction

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And her book is marred by some silly generalizations, as when she writes, ""I think the immigrant generation did not see happiness as a legitimate goal in life."" Still, if Gay lacks the intellectual range of a Howe or the imaginative sparks of a Kate Simon or Grace Paley, she has written an enjo...

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Publishers Weekly

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As Gay (who won a National Jewish Book Award for Unfinished People: Eastern European Jews Encounter America) tracks the life of Jews in both East and West Germany, the book loses focus.

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Publishers Weekly

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Gay ( Jews in America ) illuminates her subjects' robust daily lives, their religious institutions and their activities as cattle traders, manufacturers, artists, scientists and railroad builders.

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London Review of Books

His many books include a three-part study of the ‘long 19th century’ (The Age of Revolution, The Age of Capital and The Age of Empire), Age of Extremes: The Short 20th Century and a memoir, Interesting Times.

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