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The boundaries of community: Urban space and intercultural interaction in early modern, Sephardi Amsterdam, and London

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Chapter Summary

The widespread cultural acceptance of Jews in seventeenth-century Amsterdam posed both opportunities and problems for the Sephardi community leadership of the city. This chapter attempts to explore this tension between cosmopolitan integration and communal cohesiveness from the perspective of urban space and through a comparison between Amsterdam and London. While the broad pattern of Sephardi social transformation in early modern Amsterdam and London was very similar, there were also significant points of difference. A comparison between these two cities at their highest points of economic exuberance, therefore, can reveal a great deal about the dynamics of Jewish acculturation in dynamic urban environments. The urban configuration of intercultural contact was, significantly different in these two cities during their respective economic heydays.

Keywords: early modern Amsterdam; intercultural contact; London; Sephardi community



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