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Gallery 2: First Encounters, 965–1500

Jesus is debating with the rabbisRabbireligious leader of a Jewish congregation who is qualified to resolve issues on the basis of Halakhah. A rabbi heads the Jewish court (Hebrew: bet din, Yiddish: bezdin), teaches Torah, performs marriages, and certifies that foods conform to the requirements of kashrut. in the Temple in this scene from the 15th-century altar by Veit Stoss in St. Mary’s Church in Kraków. Their exchange symbolizes the debate between Judaism and Christianity. Both faiths are based on the Bible, but Jews and Christians interpret this book differently. For Christians, the Old Testament prefigures the New Testament, which Jews do not accept. Accordingly, Jews were to be tolerated because they witnessed the life and martyrdom of Christ, but subordinated because they did not accept Christianity.