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Mama Deb
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December 2010
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Mama Deb [userpic]

To anyone, especially anyone new, reading these entries - if you have any questions about terminology or practice, please ask.


I'm not sure whether this is what you had in mind. I'm thinking in terms of 5th century CE, when in Western Europe Jewish households were to a large extent Greek. In a Roman style house with the outside facing the street, and usually with shops along the frontage, but with an internal peristyle garden, is the internal garden an appropriate place to construct the sukkah?

I had nothing in particular in mind, except I knew I had new readers who might not know all the terms I use.

That, however, is an excellent question and it is, in fact, addressed in Tractate Sukkot of the Talmud. Some of which I have learned.

Courtyard style architecture was common in that area for millenia, as I'm sure you know - sometimes private, sometimes shared.

So, there is no reason not to build a sukkah in a courtyard. One can even use existing walls so long as the primary shade comes from the s'gach, the branches used for the roofing material. As a matter of fact, given the way Brooklyn houses are, the backyards can often be considered one large courtyard with private areas fenced off. One family built a high fence around their backyard and simply covers the top with s'gach.

Thank you very much indeed!

All I had been able to discover was that Jewish households in the Western Empire were very similar to Greek households; and indeed most had Greek names, even on tombstones that used Jewish dates.

Interestingly enough, 5th century Gaul was very... I'm not sure if "tolerant" was the right word, as it begs questions. To be specific, Christians fasted on the Sabbath and attended the local synagogue. The Pope sent a really nasty letter to the Bishop of Lyons because he did that, and apparently he filed the letter in the circular filing cabinet (aka waste paper basket) largely because he didn'[t think the Pope had any right to stop him going along to the synagogue.

Fasted on the Sabbath? Really? That struck me fairly hard because that's the one day a week we're not permitted to fast, other than Yom Kippur. If any other fast day falls on a Sabbath, it's pushed off to Sunday.

Jewish culture became very Hellenistic from about 200BCE or so. They admired Greek philosophy and culture. In fact, the major battle of Chanukah was against the Hellenizers. On the other hand, the first vernacular translation of the Torah was into Greek, and it was regarded as pure a language as Hebrew for some purposes. There are even a number of words of plainly Greek origin in the Mishnah (mixed with the Hebrew) and the Talmud (mixed with the Aramaic.) The one that's coming to mind now is "andraginous", which is one of the two categories of intersexed people - in this case, partaking of both sexes. The other is tumtum, who have neither. Since men and women follow different sets of laws, it's important to know which ones pertain to these individuals.

But clearly, the word comes from androgynous.

eeyeah. I don't think there were Jews in Western Europe in the 5th century, at least not beyond Italy/Greece. Possibly the Mediterranean coast of France/Spain - there is the theory that Tarshish, where Jonah fled to, is Marseilles.

OIC. http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s6706.html

There were Jews, mostly along the coast, and at a few inland river ports, living as Romans. But northern France didn't really have Jews until after "Carles li Reis, nostre emperere magna." Which fits what little I know of rabbinic literature, which is that you start to get significant books in the late 900s.

Edited at 2009-10-01 09:05 pm (UTC)

Wow, I never thought that Tarshish was as far as Marseilles.