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C. 1200 - 1263 (28 Cheshvan 5024) JONAH BEN ABRAHAM GERONDI (Spain)

Rabbi, Talmudist, and moralist. Gerondi, though an exceptional scholar, is famed as a "father of the virtues". He took to task all who were guilty of immorality, ignoring the poor, slander, and social injustice. In addition to his commentaries and novellae he is famed for his ethical works Iggeret Teshuvah (Letter of Repentance), Sefer ha-Yirah (The Book of Fear), and especially Sha'arei Teshuvah (Gates of Repentance) which has been translated into English and is widely printed today.

1200 - 1260 MOSES OF COUCY (the Semag) (France)

Author of Sefer Mitzvot Gadol (The Large Book of Precepts). It is arranged according to the six hundred and thirteen precepts of the Bible (mitzvot), affirmative and prohibitive, and includes sources (unlike Maimonides). He was one of the later Tosafists and is frequently quoted by later halachic leaders.

C. 1200 RISE OF KABBALAH (Jewish Philosophical Mysticism)

As persecutions increased in the wake of the crusades, people began searching for a deeper meaning of existence to help them understand the harshness of life around them. One of the basic beliefs of Kabbalah is that in addition to leading a righteous life, one may also contemplate mystic traditions which can bring one closer to God. There are two kinds of Kabbalah: theoretical, which is more speculative and epistemological; and practical, which is more mystical and magical, using amulets and the various names of God.


Ethical and mystical movement, thrived in Germany centering mainly around the Kalonymus family; Rabbi Samuel ben Kalonymus he-Hasid (the Pious), his son Rabbi Judah he-Hasid, and the latter's student, Rabbi Eleazar ben Judah of Worms. The movement was influenced by the difficult times which led to mystical hints in its theology and its focus on the importance of martyrdom - dying Al Kiddush Hashem. The movement placed a great emphasis on strict attention to the details of both major and minor religious regulations.

1201 February 11, WORMS (Germany)

Jews took up arms to fight alongside the city's non-Jewish residents against an attack. At that time Jews were still permitted to bear arms in various cities in Germany, although this privilege would soon be abolished.

1203 August 19, CONSTANTINOPLE (Byzantine Empire)

A fire started by Flemish crusaders burned down the Jewish quarter, including the synagogue.

1204 FOURTH CRUSADE (Byzantine Empire)

Constantinople was taken and the Rome-Constantinople conflict came to a head. Italians massacred Greeks and Turks. The failure of different factions of crusaders because of infighting and incompetence weakened the entire effort - and the Byzantine Empire in particular.

1204 VIENNA (Austria)

First record of a synagogue being built there. Vienna's Jews enjoyed more freedom than those in other areas of Austria. Often local princes used their own judgment to give extra privileges to Jews without changing the general character of their status within the nation.

1205 1205 PAPAL BULL ETSI NON DISPLACEAT (Though I Should Not…)

Pope Innocent III, (1161-1215) in a letter to the king of France accused Jews of arrogance, money lending for profit, blasphemy and the signing up of Christian slave among other things. He also claimed Jews were punished with “perpetual servitude” for killing Jesus. The king was advised to put an end to such evil.

1209 - 1229 ALBIGENSIAN CRUSADE (France)

Called by Pope Innocent III. The Albigensians, who were named for the city Albi in southern France, were one of a number of heretical Christian sects. Although they rejected Judaism on theological grounds, many also rejected the notion of Jesus as a god and accused the Church of social and economical corruption. Jews fared well in areas under their control, even attaining positions of prominence. The Church - furious that Jews still held public office and angry at the Albigensian's heresy - called for a crusade against the Albigensians. King Philip refused to lead it, but did not prevent Cardinal Bertrand and Simon de Montfort from attacking the South. Prince Raymond VI surrendered at Toulouse on September 22, 1229.

1209 July 22, BEZIERS (France)

The Capital of the Albigensians, was attacked by Simon de Montfort, as part of Pope Innocent III's Albigensian Crusade. It was defended by Raymond Roger Trencavel (1185-1209) the viscount of Beziers, who was both sympathetic to them and the Jews. By the end of the siege, 20,000 Christians and 200 Jews had been massacred by troops. Those Jews remaining were removed from office and their children were forcibly baptized. Trencaval died suddenly while imprisoned, either from an acute stomach ailment or poison.

1209 July 22, BEZIERS (France)

(Capital of the Albigensians) 20,000 Christians and 200 Jews were massacred by de Montfort's troops. Jews were removed from office and their children were forcibly baptized.

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