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Legal Acculturation and Its Broader Social Foundations

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Chapter Summary

This chapter challenges the claim that the processes of acculturation and social integration are reliable indices of the progress Jews had made in becoming modern. The records of the Metz rabbinic court offer impressive indications of both acculturation and integration that preceded the bestowal of civic equality by several decades. The copious signs of acculturation reflect the process of legal integration that was underway. The examples of linguistic assimilation, compliance with bureaucratic requirements, and fluency in the material culture of northeastern France offer valuable indications of acculturation, and they suggest as well that the Beit Din had attained familiarity with established civil procedures in French law. Legal acculturation is also evidenced by various patterns of litigation. The processes described in the chapter suggest that the unmistakable imprint left by the surrounding culture on Jewish life was not limited to the elite alone but extended to the broader urban Jewish population.

Keywords: French law; Jewish life; legal acculturation; linguistic assimilation; litigation; Metz rabbinic court; social integration



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