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Remembrance and Oblivion of Religious Persecutions: On Sanctifying the Name of God (Qiddush ha-Shem) in Christian and Islamic Countries during the Middle Ages

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Chapter Summary

Qiddush ha-shem - self-sacrifice for the holiness of the God of Israel and his law - is a commandment whose purpose is to glorify the name of God publicly, to the point of willingness, under certain circumstances, to sacrifice one's life. In Jewish law and morality, qiddush ha-shem should be performed with maximum devotion in the presence of witnesses. This chapter focuses on the Jews of Islamic countries, with a brief look at the experiences of forced converts in other regions. It outlines the main approaches used to understand self-sacrifice and qiddush ha-shem as well as more general ways to understand relations between minority Jewish communities and majority society and the behavior of Jewish communities in times of crisis. Scholarship has taken four major approaches to explaining those differences: an empirical approach, a tradition-based approach, a legal-religious approach, and a social-historical approach.

Keywords: Islamic countries; Israel; Jewish communities; Qiddush ha-shem



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