by Joel Rich
Henry Abramson Essential Lectures
“Essential lectures” are a series of short review lectures. There are longer lectures available on quite a few topics. I’m still looking for an on-line in-depth series on Jewish history or specific portions thereon.
Also, if you’ve listened to any Mada related series you think I’d find interesting, please let me know.
Jewish History and Historians (Essential Lectures in Jewish History) This series concerns Jewish history from the beginning of the diaspora. History captures reality (facts) and literacy (interpretation). It also serves a social function of providing a cohesive narrative. Discussion of historical sources and problems with certain historians (agendas, hagiography…).
Jews and Judaism in the Year Zero
Primary sources for history of the beginning of the diaspora include Josephus. There were fierce political splits (zealots et al) and also messianic forces.
The Fox in the Ruins: The Roman-Jewish WarsDiscussion of Eliezer’s and Bar Kochba’s wars against Romans (sounds like he takes the asura hargei malchot literally).
Judaism and Early Christianity
History and teachings of Yushke and Paul.
R’Yehuda Hanasi, written and oral law. Structure and purpose of mishna.
Jewish Communal Structure: The Kehilla
Description of lay and religious leadership (and the dynamic tension between them). How were proclamations enforced? What areas were covered?
Goals, layout and authorship discussed.
Jews in the Early Islamic PeriodHistory of Islam and Mohammed. Islam was an egalitarian movement, which accepted elements of faiths it conquered. Many similarities to Judaism. Judaism was accepted as a second class but protected religion.
The Jewish Kingdom of Khazaria
Kuzari was a philosophical work but there was a kingdom or Khazars – not clear how much of Judaism they took on and no evidence of any impact on Judaism.
The Golden Age of Spanish Jewry
Until the reconquering of Spain by Europe, there was a successful, integrated Jewish community under Moslem rule.
Job of rishonim was to make Talmud accessible to “modern” readers as well as codify, clarify and analyze. Some had an interest in philosophy.
Jews in the Medieval Economy
Jews had specific, non-land owning roles allowed by the King. Money lending was lucrative, portable, not physical and had good hours! It also caused resentment and danger. They also were involved in crafts and running taverns.
The Eastern European Center
Why did the Jews move to Poland/Lithuania? Problems in Western Europe, as well as invitation (based on economics) of local nobles. They were successful because the nobles didn’t want to interact with the serfs and inserted Jews between them. Cossacks resented them, it didn’t end well!
What is Modern Jewish History?
Basically 17th century and later when reason and industrialization replaced religion. There was a decline in kehila structure.
Jewish History in the Sixteenth Century Changes in demographics and technology had a large impact. The Rabbis of Tzfat also had a strong influence.
Reason and autonomy trends led to changes in Jewish thought. The impact varied across Europe. Mendelssohn was the key player (Orthodox reaction discussed as well).
Origins of Modern Jewish Humor
Theory is real Jewish humor differentiation began with the emancipation and is based on:
- the disconnect between theoretical chosen, and our actual, status
Primarily based on new focus on race as well as conspiracy.
Women in Jewish History
Usually a unique minority had influence, they usually had subversive power. Things have changed in the 20th Century.
WWII history and formalization of the killing machine.
The Borders of Israel
19th century through Mandate, Balfour, partition, 1948, 1967, 1973, Sinai, Gaza…