What Hanukkah’s Portrayal in Pop Culture Means to American Jews

Hanukkah demands fewer religious rituals than most other Jewish observances. Golden Pixels LLC Despite the primacy of Christmas in American culture, the visibility of Hanukkah in pop culture reminds Jews that they have their own holiday in which they can take pride. By Dr. Ted Merwin / 12.05.2017 Part-Time Associate Professor of Religion Director, The Milton B. Asbell Center for Jewish Life (2001) Dickinson College When I was[…]

How Hannukah Came to America

In the United States, Hanukkah has gained much significance. Tercer Ojo Photography/Shutterstock.com Hanukkah is ranked one of Judaism’s minor festivals. It’s popularity in the U.S. has a lot to do with the country’s history. By Dr. Dianne Ashton / 12.02.2018 Professor of Religion Rowan University Hanukkah may be the best known Jewish holiday in the United States. But despite[…]

Enlightenment Jewish Style: The Haskalah Movement, 18th- and 19th-Century Europe

Moses Mendelssohn (left) discusses theology with Johann Kaspar Lavater and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim, c.1800 / Wikimedia Commons The Maskilim tried to harmonize the adherence to the Jewish religion and tradition with integration into the European societies. By Dr. Marie Schumacher-Brunhes / 04.19.2012 Professor of German and Scandinavian Languages and Literature Université de Lille Introduction[…]

A Brief History of Messianic Judaism

Young Jews praying at the Kotel, the Western Wall, in Jerusalem (Image © Bigstock/kirill4mula) There are approximately 175,000 to 250,000 messianic Jews in the U.S, and 350,000 worldwide. By Dr. Ingrid Anderson / 11.13.2018 Associate Director of Jewish Studies Lecturer, Arts and Sciences Writing Program Boston University Introduction Messianic Jews consider themselves Jewish Christians. Specifically they believe, as[…]

Materialism and Jewish Reform in the 19th Century

‘Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur,’ by Maurycy Gottlieb, 1878 In the 1870s European Judaism underwent an intellectual revolution.  By Dr. Eliyahu Stern / 10.30.2018 Associate Professor of Modern Jewish Intellectual and Cultural History Yale University Be ‘a man in the street and a Jew in the home’: a common piece of advice[…]

Discrimination and Economic Motives for Medieval to Modern Jewish Migration

Sephardic Diaspora map / Skillman Library, Lafayette College Were (and are) Jewish migrations predominantly the result of persecution and discrimination or were economic motives their main cause? By Dr. Tobias Brinkmann / 12.03.2010 Malvin E. and Lea P. Bank Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and History Pennsylvania State University Introduction Were (and are) Jewish migrations[…]

Medieval Anti-Semitism: Pogroms from the 12th to 15th Centuries

A miniature from en:Grandes Chroniques de France depicting the expulsion of Jews from France in 1182. / Diaspora Museum, Tel Aviv, Wikimedia Commons Medieval Christians largely held the Jewish people collectively responsible for killing Jesus, through the so-called blood curse of Pontius Pilate in the Gospels. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 10.28.2018 Public Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction Early instances of pogroms against Jews[…]

Second Temple Judaism, Christianity, and the Emergence of Anti-Semitism

Modern reconstruction of what the Second Temple would have looked like after its renovation during the reign of Herod I / Photo by Juan R. Cuadra, Wikimedia Commons Exploring Judaism from 515 BCE to the destruction of the Second Temple and the following rise of anti-semitism in early Christianity. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 10.28.2018 Public Historian[…]

A History of Diasporan People from Ancient Rome to Today

Roman Triumphal arch (Arch of Titus) panel copy from Beth Hatefutsoth, showing spoils of Jerusalem temple / Wikimedia Commons Diaspora: “a scattering or sowing of seeds” – people or ethnic populations forced or induced to leave their traditional homeland. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 10.02.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction The term diaspora (in Ancient[…]

The Story of the Medieval Jewish Diaspora in an Illuminated Hebrew Masterpiece

Seven centuries of the Rothschild Pentateuch’s history chart the story. By Dr. Elizabeth Morrison / 09.19.2018 Senior Curator of Manuscripts J. Paul Getty Museum Introduction   [LEFT]: Page from a fifteenth-century Bible on view alongside the Rothschild Pentateuch. Initial P: Saint Paul with a Sword from a Bible, about 1450, made in Cologne, Germany. Ink,[…]

The Architecture of Medieval Synagogues in Toledo, Spain

View of Toledo, Spain with the Samuel Halevi Abulafia synagogue at the center and the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes in the background (photo: Yildori, CC BY-SA 3.0) By Dr. Diane Reilly / 04.06.2018 Associate Professor of Art History, Department Chair Indiana University By the time the first surviving synagogues were built in Spain, Jews had[…]

The Development of Zionism from the First World War to the Establishment of the State of Israel

David Ben Gurion with members of Jewish Zionist Youth Movement in Tallin in Estonia. / Wikimedia Commons Tracing the history of European-shaped Zionism during and after the First World War until the founding of Israel in 1948. By Dr. Martin Kloke / 09.07.2011 Editor-in-Charge of Ethics, Philosophy, and Religion Cornelsen Schulverlagen Introduction This article traces the[…]

Zionism in Europe up to the First World War

Chaim Weizmann, Israel’s first president / Jerusalem Post The longing for Zion, the hope that the dispersed Jews would be brought back to Eretz Israel, the land of Israel, had always been present in Judaism. By Dr. Kerstin Armborst-Weihs / 08.15.2011 Historian and Research Assistant Institute for European History Mainz Introduction The longing for Zion, the hope[…]

Farhud: When the Holocaust Came to the Middle East

Haj Amin al-Husseini meeting with Adolf Hitler (28 November 1941). By Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1987-004-09A / Heinrich Hoffmann / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de Why the UN recognized this event (known as the Farhud) and why it’s important. By Edwin Black / 05.30.2018 When International Farhud Day was proclaimed at a conference convened at the United Nations headquarters on[…]

Uncovering Ancient Ashkenaz – The Birthplace of Yiddish Speakers

Did Ashkenazi Jews descend from ancient Turkey? Everett Historical/Shutterstock Yiddish was at one time the international language of Ashkenazic Jews, but it’s exact origin has always been somewhat unclear, until now. By Dr. Eran Elhaik / 05.06.2016 Lecturer in Population, Medical and Evolutionary Genomics University of Sheffield At 1,000 years, the search for the location of Ashkenaz – thought to be the birthplace of Ashkanazic[…]

Ashkenazi Jews in Early Modern Europe

“Yiddish Motifs” (Yidishe Motoyf). Woodcut of a traditional Shtetl by the Chicago-based Ashkenazi artist Todros Geller, published in the series “From Land to Land” (Fun Land tsu Land) during the 1930s. / WorldAtlas By Dr. Predrag Bukovec / 03.07.2012 Liturgiology University of Vienna Introduction This article describes the history of Jews in Eastern Europe which[…]

Strike!!! Strike!!! Strike!!! When Dutch Workers Said No to the Nazi Persecution of Dutch Jews

Protests against the Horrible Holocaust !!! Stop! Stop! Stop! By Dr. Peter Cole / 02.25.2018 Professor of History Western Illinois University People are powerful. Some have forgotten how strong ordinary people, when united, can be. Others never learned this fact. All people must do is put their hands in their pockets at work. That is, strike.[…]

Edom Divided: Jews and Christian Anti-Judaism in the Reformation

Jews in the Syngagoue by Rembrandt / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Lars Fischer / 10.27.2017 Honorary Research Associate, Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies University College London “The Reformation” is really an umbrella term that covers a whole range of partly distinct, partly overlapping reformations that emerged and unfolded (even narrowly conceived) over the best[…]

A Tantalizing Find from the Jews of Medieval Afghanistan

A letter in Judeo-Persian dealing with financial and family matters / Afghan Genizah collection at the National Library of Israel via Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Samuel Thrope / 01.07.2016 Writer and Translator Based in Jerusalem In 1946, the French philologist André Dupont-Sommer published the first Jewish tombstone inscription from Firozkoh in Afghanistan. Dated between the[…]

An Archaeological Dig in Israel Provides Clues to How Feasting Became an Important Ritual

LightField Studios/Shutterstock.com By Dr. Natalie Munro / 12.15.2017 Professor of Anthropology University of  Connecticut This holiday season millions of families will come together to celebrate their respective festivals and engage in myriad rituals. These may include exchanging gifts, singing songs, giving thanks, and most importantly, preparing and consuming the holiday feast. Archaeological evidence shows that[…]

The True Meaning of Hannukah – Jewish Survival

Shutterstock By Dr. Alan Avery-Peck / 12.07.2017 Kraft-Hiatt Professor in Judaic Studies College of the Holy Cross Beginning on the evening of Dec. 12, Jews will celebrate the eight-day festival of Hanukkah, perhaps the best-known and certainly the most visible Jewish holiday. While critics sometimes identify Christmas as promoting the prevalence in America today of[…]

The Altneuschul, Prague: Medieval Jewish Synagogue Architecture

Altneushul, Prague (photo: Øyvind Holmstad, CC BY-SA 3.0) The Old New Synagogue or Altneuschul, situated in Josefov, Prague, is Europe’s oldest active synagogue.[1] It is also the oldest surviving medieval synagogue of twin-nave design. By Dr. Carol Herselle Krinsky / 09.18.2017 Professor of Art History New York University In architecture, there is often a dominant mode of design in a given country or region at[…]

Jewish Sources in the Narrative of Abraham in the ‘General estoria’

San Fernando Valley Credit: Oakshade, Wikimedia Commons By Dr. David A. Wacks / 05.24.2017 Professor of Spanish Department of Romance Languages University of Oregon I wrote about the influence of Jewish exegesis in the development of fictionality, that is, those aspects of prose fiction that serve to enhance the as-if function of fiction and make possible the suspension of disbelief required[…]

The God of Israel: An Ancient People’s Growing Definition, Identification, and Understanding

Dome of the Rock and Wailing Wall, Jerusalem / Photo by Peter Mulligan, Creative Commons By Dr. Michael W. Palmer / 12.09.2010 That Israel’s understanding of God changed over time is not a controversial claim. The biblical texts record significant changes very clearly. From Henotheism to Monotheism The twelve gods of the Greek Olympic pantheon with[…]

‘Discarded History’ Exhibition Lifts the Lid on 1,000 Years of Medieval History

From the collection / Cambridge University Library Treasures from the world’s largest and most important collection of medieval Jewish manuscripts – chronicling 1,000 years of history in Old Cairo – have gone on display in Cambridge today for a six-month-long exhibition at Cambridge University Library. 04.27.2017 Discarded History: The Genizah of Medieval Cairo opens to[…]