The Probable Pagan Origin of an Ancient Jewish Custom: Purification with Red Heifer’s Ashes

The Jewish red heifer ash ritual may have originated in surrounding pagan cultures reflecting the transition from pantheism to monotheism. Dr. Efraim LevAssistant Professor of Israel StudiesUniversity of Haifa Dr. Simcha Lev-YadunProfessor of BiologyUniversity of Haifa Abstract One of the most enigmatic of all ancient Jewish religious customs was the use of ashes of a[…]

“The Lying Pen of the Scribes”: A Nineteenth-Century Dead Sea Scroll

Historical research is important not simply for its own sake, but for what we can learn from it and apply to the future. The original version of Deuteronomy. That’s how the newly-discovered text was billed in August 1883. Several fragments of a 2,800-year-old scroll had made their way into the hands of Moses Shapira, an[…]

Shtetl: Sites of Memory in Eastern European Judaism

These were mythologized as a bastion of Judaism – of the so-called “yidishkeyt” – in the context of their increasing disintegration. Abstract Serving as a site of memory of eastern European Judaism since its systematic extermination by the Nazi regime, the shtetl existed for centuries as a socio-economic phenomenon and a socio-cultural construct, out of[…]

The Emergence of Permanent Jewish Family Names in Early Modern and Modern Europe

There were complaints that the lack of using a permanent family name caused a lot of “disorder” Introduction Until the age of beginning emancipation and acculturation, the naming system of Central Europe’s Jews differed from that of the Christian majority society. While permanent and hereditary family names had developed in the Christian population since the Middle Ages and their use was[…]

The Hellenization of the Hasmoneans

Analyzing the Hasmonean rulers’ approach to Hellenistic culture. Abstract The archaeological excavations of the Hasmonean palaces in Jericho and the numismatic evidence on the Hasmoneans are examined in order to understand the Hasmonean rulers’ approach to Hellenistic culture. They enable us to see not only the extent of Hellenistic influence, but also how and why[…]

Antiochus IV Epiphanes: The ‘Little Horn’ of the Jewish Revolt, 165-164 BCE

His rule resulted in revolt and eventually in territorial loss, and in the loss of political prestige, for his successors. Introduction Antiochus IV Epiphanes (Επιφανής, Greek: Manifest), originally named Mithradates, but renamed Antiochus either upon his ascension or after the death of his elder brother Antiochus (c. 215 B.C.E. – 163 B.C.E., reigned 175 B.C.E.[…]

Martin Heidegger’s Anti-Semitism: Philosophy of Technology and the Media in the Light of the ‘Black Notebooks’

What are and should be the implications of the publication of the Black Notebooks for the reception of Heidegger in the study, theory, and philosophy of media, communication, and technology? By Dr. Christian FuchsProfessor of Communication and Media ResearchUniversity of Westminster Abstract In spring 2014, three volumes of the Schwarze Hefte (Black Notebooks), Heidegger’s philosophical notebooks, were published in[…]

A History of Antisemitism in Germany since the 18th Century

Hostility against Jews intensified in the course of the crises caused by social and cultural changes. Introduction Beginning at the end of the 18th century, the spreading idea of human rights, the new, Enlightenment-era way of thinking about the state, and the social change from a corporative society divided into estates to a bourgeois-capitalist society led[…]

Convivencia: Christians, Jews, and Muslims in Medieval Spain

Examining the inter-relationship of religion and culture in the time period of medieval Spain known as the convivencia. By Lindsey Marie Vaughan Abstract Few time periods in world history offer as unique a glimpse into cultural cohabitation as the one in medieval Spain following the Arabic invasion and preceding the Christian Reconquest ended in 1492.[…]

William of Norwich and a Jewish Woman’s Appeal of Murder in Medieval England

Periodic outbursts of hostility incited numerous massacres of the Jews in the Middle Ages. Setting the Scene The period leading up to the expulsion of the Jews from England in July of 1290 was a time of mounting uncertainty for the Anglo Jewry. That Saint Augustine’s long-endorsed “toleration theory”[1] was beginning to lose its force is[…]

The Medieval Origins and Growth of Ashkenazi Judaism

The Ashkenazi Jews developed a distinct liturgy and culture. Introduction Ashkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or Ashkenazim, are Jews descended from the medieval Jewish communities of the Rhineland—”Ashkenaz” being the Medieval Hebrew name for Germany. They are distinguished from Sephardic Jews, the other main group of European Jewry, who arrived earlier in Europe and lived primarily in Spain. Many[…]

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[…]