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Heritage Civilization and the Jews
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sidecurve1 The Crucible of Europe
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YiddishOrigins of Yiddish
By the 12th century in northern Europe, the primary language used by Jews in daily life was Yiddish. The precise origins of Yiddish are largely unknown. European Jews spoke a language that was made up of Hebrew, French, Italian, and German, and as Jews migrated towards Eastern Europe, Slavic elements were introduced to the language as well.

Listen to Yiddish sentences that include words from several other languages.

HostilityHostility Towards Jews
The early Middle Ages saw an increase in anti-Jewish legislation. Jews were required by law to wear distinguishing articles of clothing. Anti-Jewish stereotypes also increased, vilifying Jews as the devil and spreading rumors about them, including the blood libel, for which they were persecuted.

View what the Jews were required to wear and illustrations of anti-Jewish stereotypes of the Middle Ages.

The Family Saga
Family Saga The Jews of Spain in the Middle Ages enjoyed a prosperous, thriving Jewish life. By the late 14th century, however, they faced increasing religious and economic hostility. To avoid persecution and to be accepted by Spanish Christian society, many Jews converted to Christianity and renounced their Jewish heritage. The family tree of Don Judah de la Cavalleria, bailiff to King James I, tells the story of how one prominent Jewish family dealt with the changing social climate of Spain.

Listen to the story of Don Judah de la Cavalleria's family, a story of religion, ambition, and family intrigue.

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