The medieval Jewish community of Provence sat at the crossroads of Ashkenaz and Sefarad, a meeting place of diverse ideas and a center of innovative thought. Provençal Jews were renowned for their masterpieces of Talmudic learning as well as groundbreaking works of philosophy and science. It was in Provence that the treasures of Judeo-Arabic learning were translated into Hebrew, from which they were handed down to us today. This distinct blend of traditional and worldly knowledge characterized Provence. Its denizens saw themselves as belonging to a unique regional culture and proudly recorded its customs in books of minhagim and its version of the liturgy. With the French expulsions of the fourteenth century, Provençal Jewish culture was dispersed, but it did not come to a halt. Everywhere that members of this community went, they carried with them their distinctive approach to Jewish life, and their influence is felt into modernity.
About the speaker:
Dr. Tamar Marvin is a scholar of medieval Jewish intellectual history and a semikha student at Yeshivat Mahrat. She holds a Ph.D. in Jewish Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary and a B.A. in Literature and Journalism from New York University. Dr. Marvin has taught and developed curricula in a variety of academic and Jewish settings, including American Jewish University and Hebrew Union College-JIR, Los Angeles. She has published her work in academic journals as well as writing for broader media. Dr. Marvin’s research centers on questions of how medieval Jews reacted to and creatively adapted new forms of meaning-making in the world they encountered around them, including both philosophical reflection and Kabbalistic speculation.