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SCHUL:

Judæo-German designation for the temple or the synagogue ("bet ha-midrash"), used as early as the thirteenth century. The building of synagogues being forbidden in nearly every European country at that period, the Jews were obliged to hold their services in private buildings; and for this purpose they used the schools which they were permitted to conduct. It thus became customary for them to say merely "I go to school" instead of "I go to the chapel in the school." According to Lazarus ("Treu und Frei," p. 285), however, this use of "schul" for "synagogue" merely indicates the interchange of the two allied concepts, while Güdemann asserts, on the other hand ("Gesch." iii. 94, note), that the Jews originallycalled the synagogue a "schul" in the sense of "assembly," this designation being accepted by the Jews since the Christians would not term the synagogue a church.

It thus becomes explicable why this term was adopted for the synagogue in nearly all countries, e.g., "scuola" in Italy, "schola" in England, and "szkola" in Poland. According to Jacobs ("Jews of Angevin England," p. 245, London, 1893), however, "the frequent reference to Jewish scholæ in the English records may refer to real schools and not to the synagogues, as has been hitherto assumed." At Norwich the school built before 1189 was not identical with the synagogue, and the same remark applies to London.

Bibliography:
  • Sulamith, vol. i., part ii., p. 277;
  • Abrahams, Jewish Life in the Middle Ages, p. 30, London, 1896.
J. S. O.
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