Sex with Demons: A Belief That Runs Deep in Christian and Jewish Traditions

The earliest account of demon sex in Jewish and Christian traditions comes from the Book of Genesis. Introduction Houston physician and pastor Stella Immanuel – described as “spectacular” by Donald Trump for her promotion of unsubstantiated claims about anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a “cure” for COVID-19 – has some other, very unconventional views. As well[…]

Abraham, the Patriarch: The Stories and the Historicity

Little if any direct archeological evidence exists concerning Abraham. Introduction In Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Abraham is a venerated patriarch whose relationship with God provides the foundational story for God’s beneficial relationship with humanity. According to biblical tradition (and some say myth), Abraham (c. 20th century BCE) was born in or near the city of Ur in Mesopotamia,[…]

Books That Bind: Passover and the Rothschild Pentateuch

How shared texts offer community in a time of isolation. Every spring for millennia, Jews around the world have gathered to celebrate Passover, which commemorates the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Pharaonic Egypt. On the first two nights of the eight-day holiday, we participate in long festival meals called seders, where we sing[…]

A Long History of Ritual Innovation in Judaism

A historian of the Bible explains how ancient Israelites changed the ways of their worship. As the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the globe, it is affecting how families celebrate important religious events such as Easter, Passover and Ramadan, which would normally involve the gathering of families. For example, in Judaism, Passover, which commemorates the exodus[…]

Ancient Hebrew Texts on Pregnancy and Abortion

The foundational Jewish texts assert that a fetus does not attain the status of personhood until birth. Traditional Jewish practice is based on careful reading of biblical and rabbinic teachings. The process yields “halakha,” generally translated as “Jewish law” but deriving from the Hebrew root for walking a path. Even though many Jews do not[…]

Monotheism in the Ancient World

In the ancient world, the concept of monotheism as we understand it today did not exist; all ancient people were polytheists. Introduction Monotheism is simply defined as the belief in one god and is usually positioned as the polar opposite of polytheism, the belief in many gods. However, the word monotheism is a relatively modern[…]

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[…]

“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[…]

Global Monotheism: The Contribution of the Israelite Prophets

Examining the transitions from “selective polytheism” to henotheism and subsequently, from henotheism to global monotheism. Introduction In his recent book, The Post-American World (2008), Fareed Zakaria explains that after the end of the Cold War there was a brief “American interlude,” when the United States enjoyed a uni-polar status of unrivaled dominance, but that this phase has[…]

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,[…]

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[…]

King Solomon: History, Mythology, or Both?

The story of King Solomon begins with his father, King David, and his mother, Bathsheba. Introduction According to biblical tradition (and some say myth), King Solomon was the third and last king in the ancient United Kingdom of Israel. Other faiths, such as Islam and Rastafarianism, also embrace the notion of Solomon as a sagacious king and powerful[…]

The Diaspora in Ancient Israel and Rise of the Synagogue

The ancient synagogue represents an inclusive, localized form of worship that did not crystallize until the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. Introduction A unique and fundamental aspect of ancient Judean society in both Israel and the Diaspora, the ancient synagogue represents an inclusive, localized form of worship that did not crystallize until the destruction[…]

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[…]

The Fraught and Complicated History of Messianic Judaism

Messianic Jews consider themselves Jewish Christians. When Loren Jacobs, member of the Shma Yisrael Congregation, offered a prayer for the victims of the Tree of Life congregation at a campaign rally attended by Mike Pence, it left many Jews feeling very upset. The vice president’s office later denied inviting Jacobs to the event. Jacobs is a messianic Jew and part[…]

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[…]

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[…]