“You Had to Have Been There”: The Importance of Place in Teaching Jewish History and Literature
Place matters, and this essay explores how living and studying at Yarnton Manor, Oxford, has impacted my teaching. The (obscured) history of Oxford Jews becomes real when one lives in the history of the Jews. For instance, medieval Jews are both present and absent in modern Oxford: the Oxford Jewish cemetery was established in the twelfth century, but its memory is marked only by a plaque on the Botanic Garden’s gates. The story of this site mirrors others in England and throughout Europe. The importance of place and on-the-ground experiences are important to identity and collective memory both in the Middle Ages and in the now. Identity and collective memory are important themes not only in medieval courses but also in courses addressing modern topics.