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[…]

The ‘Horns of Moses’ in Artistic, Literary, and Archaeological Context

Why, in many representations, do we see Moses with horns? Lecture by Dr. Thomas Römer / 02.05.2009 Professor of Biblical Studies Collège de France Introduction Any self-respecting scholar of the Bible has to examine the question of literary genres, which is one of the methodological tools of biblical research. Therefore, to prepare this lecture that I am giving[…]

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[…]

Meet the Hasmoneans: A Brief History of a Violent Epoch in Ancient Israel

Judas Maccabeus prevailing over the Seleucids, painting by Gustav Dore (1832-1883) / Wikimedia Commons Judas Maccabeus’ death would mark the end of the Maccabean revolt against the Greeks – and the start of the extremely unstable Hasmonean dynasty. By Elon Gilad / 12.23.2014 Writer and Editor Haaretz Introduction Judas Maccabaeus was a Kohen and the[…]

On Overview of the Archaeology of Prehistoric and Ancient Israel

Ruins of the ancient Great Synagogue at Capernaum (or Kfar Nahum) on the shore of the Lake of Galilee, Northern Israel / UNESCO, Wikimedia Commons Examining numerous different archaeological schools, disciplines, concepts, and methods currently in existence in Israel. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 10.29.2018 Public Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction LMLK seals with Israeli postage stamps[…]

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[…]

The Strange, Short Career of Judeo-Christianity

FDR / Library of Congress By Dr. Gene Zubovich / 03.22.2016 Visiting Lecturer in History University of California, Berkeley President Barack Obama insists that the United States defines itself by civic principles rather than by religious affiliation. In an otherwise unremarkable press conference in Turkey in 2009, he said: ‘[A]lthough… we have a very large Christian population,[…]

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[…]

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[…]

The Evolving Judeo-Christian Concept of “Hell” from the Ancient World to Today

The abyss of hell. Sandro Botticelli The meaning of hell might have changed over the centuries, but for devout Christians it remains a core part of their faith. By Dr. Joanne M. Pierce / 04.18.2018 Professor of Religious Studies College of the Holy Cross The recent dispute over whether Pope Francis denied the existence of hell[…]

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[…]

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[…]