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[…]

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[…]

“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.[…]

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[…]