Stanford Professor Describes Islam's Influence on Judaism

Article excerpt

STANFORD PROFESSOR DESCRIBES ISLAM'S INFLUENCE ON JUDAISM

Dr. Aron Rodrigue, professor in Jewish studies and history at Stanford University, spoke Jan. 31 on "Sephardi and Eastern Jewries: Past and Present" at the San Francisco Public Library. More than 300 people attended the free lecture, the first of a series sponsored by the library and, among others, the Institute for Jewish and Community Research and the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco.

Dr. Rodrigue, a native of Istanbul, focused in large part on the influence of Islam on Sephardic Jewry, asserting that "Judaism would be different without the Muslim influence." He described the influence of Islam as a "decisive encounter" both for the Jews of Spain and the Middle East and for those of other areas because "the Jewish world is not hermetically sealed." Because of trade routes, movements of families, and expulsions, the various Jewish communities were constantly in touch with each other and therefore Jewish culture everywhere would have been different without that Muslim influence, he said.

In the Middle Ages the largest group of Jews in the world lived in Spain when the majority of the inhabitants were Muslim, Dr. Rodrigue said. During that time, he said, there was "a profound, rich encounter between the Jewish world and Islam -- a very important encounter," until 1085 when Toledo fell to the Christians. …