Kristallnacht 80 Years On: Some Reading about the Most Notorious State-Sponsored Pogrom

Eight decades on, the thought of the state encouraging people to attack groups of citizens is hard to believe. Here are some books that might help. Introduction On the evening of November 9 1938 a Nazi pogrom raged across German and Austrian cities. Nazis branded the atrocity with a poetic term: Kristallnacht or “Crystal Night”.[…]

The Mass Destruction of Jewish Homes during ‘Kristallnacht’

Most histories highlight the shattered storefronts and synagogues set aflame. But it was the systematic ransacking of Jewish homes that extracted the greatest toll. By Dr. Wolf GrunerShapell-Guerin Chair in Jewish Studies and Professor of HistoryFounding Director, USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide ResearchDornsife College of Letters, Arts and SciencesUniversity of Southern California Introduction[…]

Jewish Immigration to America: Three Waves

Sephardic, German, and Eastern European immigrants each contributed to the formation of American Jewry. By Dr. Joellyn ZollmanJewish Historian Introduction America’s Jewish community is largely c, meaning it is made up of Jews who trace their ancestry to Germany and Eastern Europe. However, the first Jews to arrive in what would become the United States[…]

Rosh HaShanah: History, Meanings, and Customs

“Rosh HaShanah” means ‘head [of] the year’, referring to the Jewish day of new year. Introduction Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew: רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה), literally meaning the “head [of] the year”, is the Jewish New Year. The biblical name for this holiday is Yom Teruah (יוֹם תְּרוּעָה), literally “day of shouting or blasting”. It is the first of[…]

The Rabbi, the Telegram, and the Holocaust

Seventy-seven years ago, a telegram bearing a horrifying and unforgettable message reached America’s foremost Jewish leader. It revealed the first comprehensive details about the systematic mass murder that would come to be known as the Holocaust. The author of the fateful message was Gerhart Riegner, a 30 year-old attorney serving as the Geneva representative of the World Jewish[…]

“It Can’t Happen Here”: Americans and the Holocaust

Widely held beliefs in eugenic “science” and pervasive fear of foreigners led the US Congress to pass quota laws that had severely restricted immigration to the United States since 1924. Introduction On his first day in office in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt told the American people, “The only thing we have to fear is[…]

Jewish Cosmology in its Ancient Near Eastern Context

Considering the spread of Judaism from the viewpoint of other cultures in the Ancient Near East. Introduction The cosmology of the Hebrew Bible is basic not only to Judaism but also to Christianity, and its central features are accordingly well known to all of us. Our familiarity with the subject has a drawback, however. It necessarily makes us[…]

Palaeography: Medieval Scribes and the Transmission of Hebrew Scientific Works

Before the age of printing, the texts and layouts of Hebrew works were not standardised. This is because the transmission of works was out of the hands of their authors and in the hands of scribes. Dr Israel Sandman considers the intervention of scribes when copying Hebrew scientific works. When transmitting Hebrew works, scribes were[…]

Times Like Good Friday Were Dangerous for Medieval Jews

Language about Jews in the medieval Good Friday liturgy often carried over into physical violence toward local Jewish communities. As Christians observe Good Friday they will remember, with devotion and prayer, the death of Jesus on the Cross. It is a day of solemnity in which Christians give thanks for their salvation made possible by the suffering[…]

Antisemitism in the Middle Ages

The medieval period saw Jews experience intense antisemitism. Introduction The roots of antisemitism can be found in ancient history. Antisemitism existed prior to Christianity, as the work of Manetho from the third century BCE shows. However, antisemitism increased considerably following the rise of Christianity in Europe. This was partly due to the differences in belief,[…]

A Brief Overview of Jewish History from the Diaspora to the Middle Ages

Jews living in Europe were easy, early targets for Crusaders while life was comparatively tranquil in Islamic lands. By Dr. Jessica Hammerman (left) and Dr. Shaina Hammerman (right)Jessica Hammerman: Professor of History, Central Oregon Community CollegeShaina Hammerman: Professor of Jewish History and Culture, Lehrhaus Judaica For every period of Jewish history, interactions with non-Jews have been essential to forming Jewish[…]

Dead Sea Scrolls: Esoteric Code Reveals Ancient Priestly Calendar

Painstaking reconstruction of fragments of text has revealed the working draft of an ancient Jewish calendar and priestly duty schedule. About 1,000 Dead Sea Scrolls discovered just over 70 years ago near Khirbet Qumran on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea have been officially published since the turn of the millennium. But in the case of[…]

A Brief Overview of the History of the Dead Sea Scrolls – and Forgeries

Five of the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Museum of Bible were found to be forged. The scrolls are considered priceless. Here’s why. The Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., has removed five Dead Sea Scrolls from exhibits after tests confirmed these fragments were not from ancient biblical scrolls but forgeries. Over the last decade, the Green family,[…]

The Maccabean Revolt: The Seleucid Fall and Rise of the Hasmonean Dynasty

The outcome was the formation of the Hasmonean Dynasty, an autonomous Jewish rule over Palestine that would last a generation. By Harry Oates Introduction After the death of Alexander the Great, his Kingdom was divided into four; Egypt, the Seleucid Empire, the Kingdom of Pergamon and Macedon (including Greece). Egypt, governed by Ptolemy I Soter[…]

A History of Arts and Culture in Jewish Hamburg

Jewish life did not solely consist of worrying about one’s day-to-day survival. Summary Jewish culture reflects the experience of Hamburg’s Jewish population. Jews might be the creators, sponsors or the audience of a given cultural product. It is often difficult to clearly separate Jewish culture from Christian culture. For example, the richly ornamented graves at[…]

Religion and Identity in Jewish Hamburg

The urban region of Hamburg represents a special case in the modern religious history of German Jewry in several regards. Summary The urban region of Hamburg represents a special case in the modern religious history of German Jewry in several regards: first, because the Ashkenazi Jews of the towns of Altona, Hamburg, and Wandsbek were[…]

The Jewish People, Expatriate Artists, and Political Radicalism in Interwar France

Jewish would-be artists began arriving in Paris in the decade before the First World War. Jews were new neither to Paris nor to the artistic avant-garde in the 1920s. What was new were both their numbers and visibility. One French study estimates that over five hundred Jewish artists were working in Paris in the interwar[…]

Why the U.S. Bombed Auschwitz but Didn’t Save the Jews

Bombing bridges and railway lines over which both deported Jews and German troops were transported could have qualified as necessary for military purposes. By Dr. Rafael MedovFounder and DirectorThe David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies Seventy-five years ago this week—on March 19, 1944—German troops marched into Hungary. The country’s 800,000 Jews, the last major[…]

A Brief History of the Kingdom of Israel before the Assyrian Captivity

Israel was a regional superpower, but unable to retain its independence in the face of Assyrian imperialism. According to the Bible (the only thorough source for this period of Israel), the united kingdom of Solomon was divided after his death in ca.931. His son Rehoboam, we are told, increased the taxes, and provoked a rebellion[…]

A History of Jewish Political Activity in the Early Modern and Modern Periods

In the early modern period, political activity among Jews was limited exclusively to the Jewish community. Introduction In the early modern period, political activity among Jews was limited exclusively to the Jewish community. Autonomous congregational structures existed in the early modern “triple congregation” Dreigemeinde consisting of Altona, Hamburg, and Wandsbek. It was only in the[…]

Jewish Migration from 1500 to the 20th Century

The beginnings of Hamburg’s Jewish community are linked to the Jews’ expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula at the end of the 15th century. Introduction The term migration is used to describe different, interconnected processes, especially mobility, immigration and emigration, internal migration, labor migration, seasonal migration, flight and expulsion. Among the most extreme forms of forced[…]

A History of Hasidism: A Mystical Movement within Eastern European Judaism

Hasidism was called into existence by the charismatic figure Israel ben Eliezer (ca. 1700–1760), who was active in Poland. Introduction Hasidism is a mystical religious revival movement within Judaism, which draws from the Kabbalist tradition. It was called into existence by the charismatic figure Israel ben Eliezer (ca. 1700–1760), who was active in Poland. With[…]

Early Modern and Modern Jewish Networks of Communication

These networks formed as a result of the dispersal of Jewish society over great distances starting in antiquity. Abstract Jewish networks are the far-reaching transterritorial and transcultural channels of communication between Jews and Jewries. They formed as a result of the dispersal of Jewish society over great distances starting in antiquity and ran along the[…]

The Housing Question and Anti-Semitism: Soviet Authorities in Kyiv after World War II

Kyiv was abandoned by the Nazis in November 1943, allowing the Soviet authorities to return to the city, and the Jewish people continued to be silenced. By the mid-1940s, scholars agree, the Soviet Union’s fundamental problem at home was a paradoxical need to stabilize a regime noticeably strengthened by the Second World War.[1]  One way the[…]

Lise Meitner – The Forgotten Woman of Nuclear Phsyics Who Deserved a Nobel Prize

Left off publications due to Nazi prejudice, this Jewish woman lost her rightful place in the scientific pantheon as the discoverer of nuclear fission. Nuclear fission – the physical process by which very large atoms like uranium split into pairs of smaller atoms – is what makes nuclear bombs and nuclear power plants possible. But for many years, physicists[…]

Priestly Lineages in the History and Rhetoric of Ancient Israel

In the religious politics of the Second Temple period, the Aaronide priestly dynasties were the Mushite priesthood. Differentiating priestly families earlier in Israel’s history raises questions about methodology and purpose as well as evidence. A comparison of Cross’s reconstruction of the Oniad high priestly line with his Mushite theory lays the basis for re-evaluating historical[…]

Jewish Immigration during the Revolutionary War

Jews were not welcomed everywhere in the colonies, but they established small communities. Not many Jews immigrated to the United States before about 1820, but the 350th anniversary of Jewish settlement in America was celebrated in 2004 to mark the arrival in New Amsterdam (New York City) in 1654 of a group of two dozen[…]

Herodium: ‘Mountain of the Little Paradise’

Herodion, the palace fortress and highest peak in the Judaean Desert, is the only site that is named after King Herod the Great. Introduction Herodium (Latin), Herodeion (Ancient Greek: Ἡρώδειον), best known in Israel as Herodion (Hebrew: הרודיון‬) and in Arabic as Jabal al-Fureidis (Arabic: هيروديون‎, lit. “Mountain of the Little Paradise”); also Har Hordos is a truncated-cone-shaped hill, 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) south of Jerusalem and 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) southeast of Bethlehem,[…]

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[…]