Jews and Crime in Medieval Europe is a topic laced by prejudice on one hand and apologetics on the other. Beginning in the Middle Ages, Jews were often portrayed as criminals driven by greed. While these accusations were, for the most part, unfounded, in other cases criminal accusations against Jews were not altogether baseless. Drawing on a variety of legal, liturgical, literary, and archival sources, Ephraim Shoham-Steiner examines the reasons for the involvement in crime, the social profile of Jews who performed crimes, and the ways and mechanisms employed by the legal and communal body to deal with Jewish criminals and with crimes committed by Jews. A society’s attitude toward individuals identified as criminals—by others or themselves—can serve as a window into that society’s mores and provide insight into how transgressors understood themselves and society’s attitudes toward them.
Ephraim Shoham-Steiner is professor of medieval Jewish history at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Be’ersheva Israel, where he is the director of the Center for the Study of Conversion and Inter-Religious Encounters (CSOC). He is the author of On the Margins of a Minority: Leprosy, Madness, and Disability among the Jews of Medieval Europe (Wayne State University Press, 2014) and the editor of Intricate Interfaith Networks in the Middle Ages: Quotidian Jewish-Christian Contacts.
Jews and Crime in Medieval Europe can be purchased here.