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Journal Article

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Jewish Historical Studies





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We live in a time of prolific scholarly output on the history of Jews and Judaism where most inhibitions about what are appropriate subjects for study and what are not have disappeared. This is especially apparent with regard to the study of converts who opted to leave the Jewish faith and community both in the pre-modern and modern eras. Labelled disparagingly in the Jewish tradition as meshumadim (apostates), many earlier Jewish scholars treated them in a negative light or generally ignored them as not properly belonging any longer to the community and its historical legacy. When they were mentioned in historical accounts, they were often seen as self-hating Jews who had become adversaries of their former co-religionists or simply as dishonorable individuals who were notorious in attempting to escape the burden of their Jewish particularity. This situation has radically changed in recent years with an outpouring of new studies on converts in a variety of times and places, culminating perhaps in the most recent synthesis of Todd Endelman, one of the pioneers in the study of converts in the modern era.1

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This article is published under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 International license (CC BY 3.0).


Date Posted: 02 August 2017

This document has been peer reviewed.