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In Wandering Arm Essay

1525 words - 7 pages

Jewish people’s relations to the majority in the medieval Christendom
In “The Wandering Arm”, Sharan Newman brings the readers back to the 12th century Paris, France by utilizing her vivid imagination. By creating complex relationships among both Christian and Jewish characters, we observed how Jewish people behave themselves in a Christian dominated world.
Among all the Jewish characters, Hubert is the one with most complicated feeling toward his Jewish identity. Hubert was born as a Jew, but the crusaders killed all his sisters and mother when the latter attacked Rouen. Hubert’s neighbor adopted him and baptized him, and later let him become a Christian merchant. (Newman, page 49) ...view middle of the document...

No matter how much you want to reconvert into Judaism, once being convert into Christian, you have to act as a Christian for the rest of your life. You can become a Jew from the heart, and this is one way to be a Jew in the medieval Christendom.
For Jewish people in the Medieval Europe, they could choose to live as Eliazar and his wife Johannah. Both characters are role models, and they all have well relations with Christians, and they sometimes keep boundaries with Christians as well. As a devoted Jew, Eliazar always show up in the Sabbath service. (Newman, page 63) Eliazar also helps others a lot: he rose up Solomon, who is the son of his dead relatives; when Catherine and Edgar are living in Johannah’s house, he always invited them to have meals together; beside, he is a good husband to Johannah: Johannah could not have children and Eliazar did not choose to divorce her. In addition, Eliazar does charities, and he is a respectable person in the Jewish community. As the wife of Edgar, Johannah always keep special meals for Christian guest. (Newman, page 57) She generously offered a place for Catherine and Edgar to live. Unlike most Jewish people who never allow Christians to prepare their food, Johannah allows some Christians to touch/prepare some food. (Newman, page 95) On the other hand, both Johannah and Eliazer keep boundaries, and not totally trust Christians. Elizaer feels uncomfortable when Christian scholars show up in the synagogue to attend service, while Johannah supervises her Christian servant, Lucia and makes sure the latter does everything properly. However, the Jewish couple has to rely on Christians, and they have no choice. When Eliazer was suspect for homicide Natan, he has to agree to let Edger, Catharine and other Christians to help discovering the truth about Natan and the stolen treasure. For Johannah, there is no Jewish servant, and she has to pay Lucia three times of wage and makes Lucia stay in the house. When Lucia wants to quite, Johannah was worried, and she even and begged Lucia not leave. (Newman, page 107) To be Jewish people in the Medieval Europe, they have to interact with Christians. Although live within the community, Jews people, especially merchants, need Christian business partner. In addition, members in the Jewish community have to talk and have meetings with Christian religious leaders. Through these activities, they could remain their identities and do everything in their own way. On the other hand, adaptations to Christians are need. Like Johannah, she is too busy and has to give in, let Lucia prepare food and doing housework. To be a Jew in Medieval Christendom, one needs to make both interactions and adaptation to the dominated Christian society.
In the Medieval Europe, a Jew can choose to act as Solomon and become a proud Jew. Solomon does not care laws and religions too much. When Catherine introduced him to Brother Andrew, Solomon told Andrew that all other people in the Jewish...

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