#112 Jewish History in Six Chapters (3)

This third instalment of David’s overview series of Jewish History explores the years between 500 and 1000 CE, known as the period of the Geonim.

In this talk, David discusses:

· The geonim, including who they were and the significance of their spiritual authority 
· The political leadership of the Reish Galuta
· The great academies of Sura and Pumbedita and their rivalries
· The decrees of Justinian
· The first attempted forced conversions
· Persecutions in Spain
· Wars between Byzantine and Sassanid Empires
· The Himyarite Kingdom
· The rise of Islam
· The conquest of Spain by the Moors in 711
· Umayyad Caliphate in Spain
· The slow shift from Babylonia – in two basic directions
· Nehemiah ben Hushiel
· Anan Ben David and the start of the Karaite movement
· The Khazars
· Charlemagne & Louis the Pious
· Amram Gaon and the beginnings of the siddur
· Hiwi of Balkh
· The decline and revival of Sura
· Saadya Gaon – the ultimate Gaon
· Rav Sherira Gaon and Rav Hai Gaon – the close of the Geonic period and the decline of Babylonian Jewry
· Chisdai Ibn Shaprut and Shmuel HaNagid – symbols of the Golden Age of Spain
· The rise of Hebrew grammar
· Rabbeinu Gershom – the father of Ashkenazi Jewry.

He explains how this period in Jewish History sees the laying of the foundations for modern Jewish life and the gradual shift in the centre of Jewish life from Babylonia to Europe. He also examines the geo-political context of this period and the influence of broader historical developments.

Continue reading “#112 Jewish History in Six Chapters (3)”

# 70 From Exile in Paradise to Redemption in Hell: Jews and Judaism in Germany – past, present and future

Although the Holocaust looms large as the defining feature of Jewish life in Germany, it was not an isolated historical event for German Jews. The Shoa followed a long and tragic trail of massacres, pogroms, and persecutions. However, the historical relationship between the Jewish and German peoples consisted of more than bloodshed and hardship. As David explains in this lecture, “the symbiotic relationship between the Jews of Germany and the general German population was nothing short of astounding.”

In this podcast episode, From Exile in Paradise to Redemption in Hell Jews and Judaism in Germany: past, present, and future, David explores the long and fascinating story of German Jewish life, from the days of the Roman Empire to the present, covering:

  • Jews and the Roman Empire
  • the beginnings of Ashkenazi Jewry and the influence of Rabbeinu Gershom
  • the Rhineland Massacres of the 11th century, known in Jewish history as the Akedah
  • Meir of Rottenberg and Asher ben Yechiel
  • the constant return of Jews to Germany despite ongoing persecution and recurring massacres
  • the impact of the Reformation
  • the restriction of Jews to money lending and their subsequent influence on economic policy
  • Moses Mendelssohn, the Enlightenment, and secular Judaism
  • Jewish conversion to Christianity as an essential requirement for advancement in 19th Germany
  • Jewish mystical interpretations of the relationship between Jews and Germany
  • the growth of contemporary Jewish communities in Germany
  • the enormity of the Shoa and its place in history
  • the integral nature of Jews to German life and history.

You can also watch the lecture on YouTube.

David delivered this talk in 2013 at the Jewish Museum of Berlin, accompanying the special exhibition “The Whole Truth.”