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(2,246 words)

A Yiddish expression for rags, old clothing, and used goods in general. It derives from the Polish szmata (cloth, rags; also a term for a slovenly person). Since the late Middle Ages, pawning, repairing, and reselling used clothing or other used objects was a customary field of activity for Jewish small-scale traders in Central and Eastern Europe. Later it was practiced mainly by Jewish immigrants in Western Europe and America, where…

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Aust, Cornelia, “Shmattes”, in: Encyclopedia of Jewish History and Culture Online, Original German Language Edition: Enzyklopädie Jüdischer Geschichte und Kultur. Im Auftrag der Sächsischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig herausgegeben von Dan Diner. © J.B. Metzler, Stuttgart/Springer-Verlag GmbH Deutschland 2011–2017. Consulted online on 05 December 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2468-8894_ejhc_COM_0804>
First published online: 2017
First print edition: 20221116

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