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9 The Jewish Community

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Chapter Summary

The roots of the Jewish communities in the Diaspora, including those in Italy, are embedded in the Jewish local organizations in Judaea, their constitutions, functions, offices, elections, duties and powers, and so forth. The centre of Jewish communal life was the synagogue, as a communal meeting place and as a house of prayer. Therefore in many instances, the terms synagogue and community are in fact interchangeable. In many localities, particularly in the smaller Jewish settlements, the same people fulfilled more than a single function. The connection to Judaea was based on the strong ties that bound Diaspora Jewry to the national centre. The legal basis of Jewish autonomous communal organization was the religious freedom granted to the Jews under Roman rule, implicitly or explicitly, individually or collectively, as adherents of Judaism, as members of a licit association (collegia) or of a similar body.

Keywords: Diaspora; Jewish community; Jews; Judaism; Roman rule



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