Teaching Jewish and Christian Daily Interaction in Medieval England
The historical narrative of Anglo-Jewish history is clear, although depressing to teach, but an exclusive focus on abuse narrows students’ sense of medieval individuals’ life experiences. Persecution was not constant. Jews were acculturated, and Jews and Christians shared the local culture, inhabited the same space, and knew each other as individuals, perhaps friends. How can we teach the range and quality of their interactions? Selections from royal records, clerical sermons, and rabbinic responsa that expressed expectations of behavior in the context of a Jewry in thirteenth-century Oxford expose students to the diversity of Jewish experience in medieval England. These glimpses from the historical record are useful for prompting class discussions about the range of behavior and friendships that could have developed.