Jews and Judaism in World History

265 Pages · 2009 · 1.38 MB · English

  • Jews and Judaism in World History

    Jews and Judaism in World History

    This book is a survey of the history of the Jewish people from biblical

    a ntiquity to the present, spanning nearly 2,500 years and traversing five


    Opening with a broad introduction that addresses key questions of termi-

    nology and definition, the book’s ten chapters then go on to explore Jewish

    history in both its religious and non-religious dimensions. The book explores

    the social, political, and cultural aspects of Jewish history, and examines the

    changes and continuities across the whole of the Jewish world throughout its

    long and varied history. Topics covered include:

    (cid:129) the emergence of Judaism as a religion and way of life, from the world of

    the ancient Israelites as recounted in the Hebrew Bible through to encoun-

    ters with the Greco-Roman civilization, and with Roman, Byzantine,

    Persian, Islamic and Christian rule

    (cid:129) the development during the Middle Ages of Judaism as an all-encom-

    passing identity

    (cid:129) the effect on Jewish life and identity of major changes in Europe and the

    Islamic world from the mid-sixteenth through the end of the nineteenth


    (cid:129) the complexity of Jewish life in the twentieth century, the challenge of

    anti-Semitism and the impact of the Holocaust, and the emergence of the

    current centers of world Jewry in the State of Israel and the New World.

    Exploring the overarching themes that bind this complex history, while also

    taking care to note the broad diversity of the Jewish experience, this book

    will be a vital tool to all students of world history.

    Howard N. Lupovitch is the Waks Family Associate Professor of Jewish

    History at the University of Western Ontario. He is the author of Jews at the

    Crossroads: Tradition and Accommodation during the Golden Age of the Hungarian

    Nobility(2007). Themes in World History

    Series editor: Peter N. Stearns

    The Themes in World History series offers focused treatment of a range of human experiences

    and institutions in the world history context. The purpose is to provide serious, if brief, dis-

    cussions of important topics as additions to textbook coverage and document collections. The

    treatments will allow students to probe particular facets of the human story in greater depth

    than textbook coverage allows, and to gain a fuller sense of historians’ analytical methods and

    debates in the process. Each topic is handled over time – allowing discussions of changes and

    continuities. Each topic is assessed in terms of a range of different societies and religions –

    allowing comparisons of relevant similarities and differences. Each book in the series helps

    readers deal with world history in action, evaluating global contexts as they work through

    some of the key components of human society and human life.

    Gender in World History The United States in World History

    Peter N. Stearns Edward J. Davies, II

    Consumerism in World History Food in World History

    The Global Transformation of Desire Jeffrey M. Pilcher

    Peter N. Stearns

    Childhood in World History

    Warfare in World History Peter N. Stearns

    Michael S. Neiberg

    Religion in World History

    Disease and Medicine in World History John Super and Briane Turley

    Sheldon Watts

    Poverty in World History

    Western Civilization in World History Steven M Beaudoin

    Peter N. Stearns

    Premodern Travel in World History

    The Indian Ocean in World History Steven S. Gosch and Peter N. Stearns

    Milo Kearney

    Premodern Trade in World History

    Asian Democracy in World History Richard L. Smith

    Alan T. Wood

    Sexuality in World History

    Revolutions in World History Peter N. Stearns

    Michael D. Richards

    Globalization in World History

    Migration in World History Peter N. Stearns

    Patrick Manning

    Jews and Judaism in World History

    Sports in World History Howard N. Lupovitch

    David G. McComb Jews and Judaism in World


    Howard N. Lupovitch First published 2010

    by Routledge

    2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN

    Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada

    by Routledge

    270 Madison Ave, New York ,NY 10016

    Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business

    This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2009.

    To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’s

    collection of thousands of eBooks please go to www.eBookstore.tandf.co.uk.

    © 2010 Howard N. Lupovitch

    All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced

    or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means,

    now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording,

    or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in

    writing from the publishers.

    British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

    A catalogue record for this book is available

    from the British Library

    Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication Data

    Lupovitch, Howard N.

    Jews and Judaism in world history /

    Howard N. Lupovitch. – 1st ed.

    p. cm. – (Themes in world history)

    Includes bibliographical references.

    1. Jews–History. 2. Judaism–History. I. Title.

    DS117.L87 2009



    ISBN 0-203-86197-3 Master e-book ISBN

    ISBN10: 0-415-46204-5 (hbk)

    0-415-46205-3 (pbk)

    0-203-86197-3 (ebk)

    ISBN13: 978-0-415-46204-4 (hbk)

    978-0-415-46205-1 (pbk)

    978-0-203-86197-4 (ebk) Contents

    Introduction: dimensions of Jewish history 1

    1 The world of the Hebrew Bible 5

    2 The challenge of Hellenism 26

    3 The rise of Rabbinic Judaism 49

    4 The Jews of Islam 61

    5 The Jews of medieval Christendom 74

    6 World Jewry in flux, 1492–1750 102

    7 The age of enlightenment and emancipation, 1750–1880 138

    8 Anti-Semitism and Jewish responses, 1870–1914 179

    9 From renewal to devastation, 1914–45 203

    10 Jews in the postwar world 231

    Conclusion: world Jewry faces the twenty-first century 241

    Further reading 244

    Index 248 For Dahvi and Hanna

    The aim of this book is to provide students of Jewish History with a compact,

    one-volume history of the Jews from antiquity to the present. As such, this

    book has benefitted from my exchanges with dozens of colleagues who spe-

    cialize in various areas of Jewish History. Throughout I have tried to appose a

    straightforward narrative with more in-depth analysis and discussion of

    recent scholarly debates on various aspects of this narrative. In order to allow

    readers to encounter the historical experiences of Jews through the words of

    those who lived through or observed these events, I have included numerous

    direct quotations. Limitations on length precluded the use of footnotes or

    endnotes, so most of these direct quotations were drawn from one of the pri-

    mary sources included in the list of further reading. In the end, I hope that

    readers will come to discover and embrace, as I have, the notion that a greater

    familiarity with the whole of Jewish History facilitates and enhances one’s

    understanding of any part of that history. Introduction: dimensions

    of Jewish history

    Jewish history is more than the history of a religion called Judaism. Although

    Judaism is a central component, Jewish history also recounts the develop-

    ment of a civilization with a complex social order and political culture, and

    generations of social relations between Jews, and between Jews and non-Jews.

    Jewish civilization has been around in one form or another for more than

    three millennia, and has traversed five continents, from central Asia to the

    New World. Jews have come within the perception of intellectuals and states-

    men from Aristotle to Zola, and have lived in a wide variety of contexts,

    including the ancient Near East, the Hellenistic world, Rome, Byzantium,

    Islam, Christendom, Europe, Russia, and the New World.

    Given this diverse array of situations and vast time span, it is essential to

    begin by defining what is meant by Jew, Jewish, and Judaism. The term Jew

    or Yehudiis derived from the ancient Israelite kingdom of Judah or Yehuda. It

    was first used as a descriptor in reference to Mordechai ha-Yehudi, Mordechai

    the Jew, the uncle of Queen Esther and one of the protagonists in the biblical

    story of Esther. Mordechai the Jew is described as being among those “who

    were exiled from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylonia, in 597

    B.C.E.” Strictly speaking, therefore, there were no Jews before the Babylonian

    exile. Biblical figures such as Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, and the

    prophets are more aptly referred to as Hebrews or Israelites than as Jews.

    The question remains, are the Jews best defined as a people, as the mem-

    bers of a religious faith, as a nation, or as an ethnicity? All of these

    designations have been tried in the past and all remain valid definitions of at

    least some facets of Jewish life. At some point, Jews were most easily recog-

    nizable and definable as one or more of these descriptions. Though ostensibly

    a matter of taxonomy and semantics, the problem of defining the Jews as a

    group points to the larger problem of encapsulating the diversity of the

    Jewish experience within a single narrative. Yet is it possible to encompass

    this diversity and multiplicity within a single historical narrative?

    In answer to that question, historian Michael Meyer has suggested the

    metaphor of a rope. A rope is made up of strands none of which extends from

    one end to the other, yet the strands, still hold the rope together as a single 2 Introduction: dimensions of Jewish history

    coherent entity. So, too, the history of the Jews. Jews in the twentieth century

    are so vastly different from their ancient counterparts that there may be no

    common thread that runs the gamut of Jewish history from antiquity to the

    present. Thus, the challenge for the present-day reader and writer of Jewish

    history is to flesh out the strands of this rope and the connections between

    them without disregarding how different the strands are from one another.

    Three aspects of Jewish history, in particular, are sufficiently broad to

    encompass the diversity of Jewish experience, but together add up to a dis-

    tinct history. First, the history of the Jews is the history of a small people

    surrounded by larger, more powerful peoples. Whether a small independent

    kingdom amid neighboring empires or a small religious or ethnic minority

    living under foreign rule, Jews were faced with the challenge of preserving

    their culture in the face of alluring alternatives that were often culturally

    more sophisticated. In every age, there were Jews who chose these alternatives

    over their Jewish identity. Yet there were also Jews who struck a workable

    balance, living with one foot in the world of Jewish tradition and culture, and

    the other in the world of the mainstream. Every period and episode in Jewish

    history bears the imprint of a larger world in which Jews lived. Jewish iden-

    tity, individual and communal, developed as a series of amalgams between an

    existing Jewish heritage and aspects of the surrounding non-Jewish world

    that were emulated and recast in an acceptable Jewish light.

    Second, the complexity of Jewish history means that there has been a

    recurring or chronic tension between a search for uniformity and a search for

    diversity in Judaism and Jewish life. Recently, there has been a tendency to

    avoid referring to a single, monolithic Jewish experience. Instead, historians

    now speak of “Judaisms” instead of Judaism, and “cultures of the Jews”

    instead of Jewish culture. Indeed, the diversity of Jewish history and the

    multiplicity of Jewish experiences are undeniable. At the same time,

    though, twenty-first-century Jews still feel somehow connected to their

    ancient predecessors

    Third, the tension between uniformity and diversity was at once compli-

    cated and facilitated by a series of migrations by Jews from one part of the

    world to another. It was complicated because migration meant dislocation

    and was often the result of some form of adversity: military defeat, religious

    persecution, or economic hardship. Migrating to a new home meant setting

    down new roots, rebuilding a life, and coming to terms with a new society

    and state and the accompanying array of new challenges and expectations. It

    was facilitated because Jews never arrived into a new homeland empty-

    handed; rather, they brought with them the cultural and communal baggage

    of their former home, and transplanted them into their new home. Starting

    over almost never meant starting entirely from scratch. Each new center of

    Jewish life built on the successes and learned from the difficulties of its pre-

    decessors. The seemingly endemic nature of Jewish migration gives an image

    of an overriding sense of Jewish homelessness and rootlessness in the diaspora. Introduction: dimensions of Jewish history 3

    This may have been true from time to time, but as often as not, Jews felt very

    much at home in the places where they lived, especially in those places where

    they lived for centuries.

    This sense of rootedness may seem odd, especially for those who approach

    Jewish history from what Salo Baron called a “lachrymose view.” Baron cor-

    rectly noted a prevailing yet erroneous view that contends that Jewish history

    is a history of endless suffering and persecution. This view was validated in

    retrospect by the fact that every center of Jewish life eventually came to an

    end, and more recently by the Holocaust.

    The notion of perpetual Jewish adversity in the diaspora is at the heart of

    several different approaches to Jewish history. The traditional rabbinic

    approach regards the worship or acknowledgment of God, the observance of

    Jewish laws, and the study of the Torah as the common thread of the Jewish

    experience. This approach equates good for and bad for Jews with good for

    Judaism and bad for Judaism (“Jewish history is Rashi and the Rambam

    [Maimonides]”). Jewish suffering and the persecution of Jews were seen as

    divine retribution for religious laxity and indifference. Zionist historians,

    though downplaying the role of religious observance and divine providence,

    embraced the lachrymose view of Jewish history to underline the futility of

    Jewish life in the diaspora and the overriding need to move to Israel.

    Those who have sustained this lachrymose point of view have had to resort

    to connecting the dots between a series of adverse situations: the Crusades,

    the Black Death, the Age of Expulsions, the Italian ghettos, the Chmielnicki

    massacres, pogroms in Russia, and the destruction of European Jewry by

    Hitler. Yet these events were separated by centuries and by hundreds of miles.

    Between these events were less dramatic moments when Jews lived comfort-

    ably in the diaspora for extended periods of time. This point should not be

    overstated, yet while persecution is an undeniable feature of Jewish history, it

    was not the only feature. The situation for Jews in the diaspora was neither

    perfect nor perfectly awful.

    The book is divided as follows: Chapter 1 will explore the world of the

    ancient Israelites as recounted in the Hebrew Bible, one of the pillars of west-

    ern civilization, and how Judaism was forged from the matrix of ancient

    Israelite traditions and institutions. Chapter 2 will then consider how this

    society was challenged by the experience of exile and by its encounter with

    the Greco-Roman world – the other pillar of western civilization – and trans-

    formed from a territorial, cultic religion into a melange of Jewish sects vying

    to be the authentic heir of ancient Israel. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 will explore the

    tortuous crystallization of Rabbinic Judaism into the dominant and definitely

    authentic form of Judaism under Roman, Byzantine, Persian, and finally

    Islamic and Christian rule. They will show how it expanded into an all-com-

    passing way of life by the end of the Middle Ages, regulating and governing

    all facets of Jewish life, and how it managed the growing complexity of

    Jewish identity under the rubric of a system of religious beliefs, practices,

    Please note: To fully download this free PDF,EBook files you need know All free.
    Found by internet command,site not saved pdf file
You May Also Like

Related PPT Template in the same category.