TANZHAUS ("dance hall"; Heb. bet ḥatunnot or bet nissu'im, "wedding hall"), a communal institution mainly in Germany. It served as a place for wedding festivities. The sexes never mixed in dances, except for a modest ritual of dancing with a bride. During the 15th and 16th centuries, debates on mixed dancing took place in different communities and at times even contributed to a split between the community and its leaders. Dancing was a favorite entertainment, and although the Tanzhaus was designated only for weddings, many towns used it as a public dance hall and held celebrations there from time to time. Most Jewish quarters in Germany and France had a bet ḥatunnot. (See also *Dance.)
I. Abrahams, Jewish Life in the Middle Ages (1920), 75, 380; H.H. Ben-Sasson, in: Zion, 27 (1962), 189–94.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.