T HE J EWISH Q UA R T E R LY R EVIEW , Vol. 108, No. 3 (Summer 2018) 365–370 The Unexpected in EarlyModernJewishLife FRANCESCA BREGOLI Queens College and The Graduate Center, CUNY “T HE R E I S A D A N GE R that the history of coffee lead us astray. The anecdotal, the picturesque, and the unreliable play an enormous part in it.” In his celebrated essay on coffee, coffeehouses, and early modern Jewish nocturnal rituals, Elliott Horowitz quoted these words by Fer- nand Braudel as “a warning and an invitation.” Elliott’s pioneering work on what he dubbed “the social history of piety” indeed opened vistas on the unexpected in early modern Jewish life, though his prodigious erudi- tion and rigorous scholarship always kept him away from the purely anecdotal. The connection between the spread of coffee and the diffusion of kab- balistic vigils outside of Palestine, the evolving practices on the eve of a boy’s circumcision in Italy and Ashkenazic lands, the meaning of a bearded or beardless chin in the eighteenth century, questions about unorthodox female bathing customs in the Mediterranean area, or osten- sibly reckless Jewish behavior on Purim, were never reduced
Jewish Quarterly Review – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Sep 26, 2018
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