The cultures and traditions of the Ashkenazim (at one time defined as German Jewry)—those Jews whose cultural origins date to the migrations via northern Italy to Rhineland areas in what is present-day Germany (and nearby French towns), beginning roughly in the 9th to 10th centuries; and whose customs, mores and liturgical rites were crystallized there by the end of the Middle Ages. Following the series of expulsions of Jews from most northern/western European and English communities between the 13th and 14th centuries (except for pockets of papal and/or local temporal protection), the largest part of Ashkenazi Jewry resettled in Poland, subsequently extending to the Ukraine, Lithuania, Byelorussia, Latvia, and Bessarabia and creating the much larger eastern European Ashkenazi branch. Some of these Jews eventually returned to the German sphere, France, and England, from the 17th century on, but the eastern branch remained the largest in number until World War II. The majority of American Jewry is of Ashkenazi origin, dating to the German-Jewish immigration beginning in the mid-19th century and the vast immigrations from Eastern Europe from the 1870s through the 1930s.
Badkhn (pl. badkhonim)
A traditional merry-maker, jester, entertainer, and bard at Jewish weddings and festivities in eastern Europe, in western Europe prior to the modern era, and in the early immigrant era in America.
An alms box in honor of Rabbi Meir, legendarily regarded as a “worker of miracles” and traditionally associated with the great Rabbi Meir quoted throughout the Mishna, although some scholars question the association between the two.