Modern Jewish History

By Shoshi
  • Period: to

    The Effects of the European Enlightenment

    Many Jews were greatly influenced by the European Enlightenment. Spinoza was the first Jew to live as an enlightened individual, while the other Jews followed in his path to adopt the principles of the enlightenment. Ultiimately, this lead to the downfall of rabbinic authority. Additionally, from the Englightenment, the Haskalah movement was formed. The hassidic movement and the misnagdim came about as a reactionary conservatism.
  • Cherem of Baruch Spinoza

    Cherem of Baruch Spinoza
    Cherem was the only weapon that Rabbinical authority had to maintain communal discipline. If someone was put in cherem he was completely cut off from the community. Baruch Spinoza was the first person who nuetralized the weapon of cherem. After being put into cherem, instead of repenting or converting, Spinoza decided to live as an enlightened individual. This marks modern jewish history because he became the first secular Jew. Many Jews were influenced by Spinoza and followed in his footsteps.
  • The Decline of Rabbinic Authority

    The Decline of Rabbinic Authority
    As rabbinnic authority gets weaker, they react more extremely than they did before. The rabbis become harsher on halachik matters and less forgiving, For example, they overuse Cherem, which makes Cherem meaningless, especially after Spinoza's rebellion. The more worthless it becomes, the more it is used (reactionary conservatism). The rabbis shift their focus from communal service to service of their own instituion. They emphasized learning as a goal in and of itself.
  • Maskilim, Hassidim, and Misnagdim

    Maskilim, Hassidim, and Misnagdim
    Many urban Jews living in Ghettos became Maskilim, followers of the Jewish Enlightenment. They stressed Enlightenment ideas and secularized Judaism in Europe. Jews living in rural areas, or shtetls, became Hassidim. Because they felt very distant from their religion the Baal Shem Tov developed this new form of Judaism, where one could connect to God in various ways. The Misnagdim, or talmuday chachamim, were the opponents of the Hassidic movement. They followed halacha to the letter of the law.
  • The Jews are Emancipated

    The Jews are Emancipated
    After the French revolution, the French people had principles of equality and freedom. This is why they decided to grant the Jews citizenship. In the 1800s political emancipation makes its way to Germany.
  • Period: to

    The Effects of Jewish Political Emancipation

    The Jews were finally granted political emancipation in the 18th and 19th centuries. One would expect that with the freedom to remain Jewish, the rate of assimilations would diminish. However, Napoleon forced the Jews to change their beliefs, and conversions to Christianity skyrocketed. Another result of emancipation was the growth of the reform movement. The Jews of Germany seized the oppurtunity to redefine and reinvent their religion by creating a new form of Judaism.
  • Jewish Immigration to America

    Jewish Immigration to America
    The Spanish-Portuguese Sephardim arrived in America in the 17th and 18th centuries. They were refugees from former Dutch colonies. They got involved in trans-Atlantic trade, which put them in the upper-middle class. The German immigrants arrived next from C. 1830-1860. They became small businessmen and members of the middle class. The next wave was the Eastern European immigration from the Pale of Settlement from C. 1880-1924. They were poor, lower class, skilled laborers.
  • Period: to

    The American Jewish Experience

    There were massive waves of Jewish immigrants to America in the 19th century. They begin living in tenements and help America industrialize. However, the Jews form unions because the working conditions become appalling. Fortunately, their children rise up in the economic classes and spread out in the suburbs. Eventually, a new form of Judaism, conservatism, is created as a reaction to the reform movement. As the two movements declined, orthodoxy greatly increased in numbers.
  • Napoleon's Sanhderin

    Napoleon's Sanhderin
    After Napoleon creates a massive French Empire, he seeks to unify his empire under one culture. He recognizes that despite all the talk of emancipation, Jews haven't assimalated to the culture as much as they were expected of the world. Therefore, Napoleon comes up with a plan to see where the Jews loyalties lie. He asks the Sanhedrin a series of questions and they would have to answer the way Napoleon wanted.The Sanhedrin had a huge conflict between adaptation versus tradition.
  • The Reform Movement

    The Reform Movement
    After the German Jews were emancipated, they were able to reinvent Judaism, which led to the Reform movement. They didn't want to listen specifically to the Rabbis, but they also didn't want to erase Judaism. They believed that since they were granted equal citizenship, Judaism doesn't have to be a nationhood, rather it is a spiritual practice. One of the features built into the reform ideology is if it isn't working, then change it.
  • Jews in the Lower East Side

    Jews in the Lower East Side
    The Eastern European Jews lived in the Lower East Side, which became the most densely populated area in the world. They lived in crowded tenements. Each tenement had two bedrooms, one bathroom that was six square ft., no electriciy, and no heating. The Jews would divide the appartment into two; half of it would be for living and the other half would be a workspace.
  • Period: to


    The Zioinst movement was a reaction to the dangerous anti-semitism that the Jews faced in Europe. The Kishnev Pogrom was one of many tragedies that led to Zionism. The Jews believed that they must have a safe haven to govern themselves without outside interference. After much talk of Zionism, the followers of the Bilu Movement were the first ones to actually go to Israel. Eventually, four different types of Zionism were formed and practiced throughout the Jewish people.
  • The Bilu Movement

    The Bilu Movement
    The Bilu movement consists of a group of young Jewish adults, who don't just talk Zionism, but actually go there and start the process. They come from assimilated families with parents who desparately wanted them to beocme fully integrated with the nation. They rejected their parents plans for them and became the first pioneers to move to the Middle East and form a community from scratch.
  • Industrialization in America

    Industrialization in America
    Industrialization in America played a major role in the tenements. It made production much cheaper and quicker. The Lower East Side became a beehive for the garment industry. Before indsutrialization, people relied on craftsmen and tradesmen. With increased production, now there are factories. This is good for immigrants because they just need to learn one step of the process, rather than the entire skill set. However, small businesses went out of business and working condition were horrendous.
  • The Four Types of Zionism

    The Four Types of Zionism
    Political Zionism, developed by Theodor Herzl, stemmed from the Dryfus trial. He realized that the Jews needed a safe haven in order to escape anti-semitism. Labor Zionism, by AD Gordon states that the only way to break the classic, weak, Jewish identity is to work all the time until it hurts. Cultural Zionism, advocated by Ahad Haam, focuses on unity and quality of a Jewish homeland. Religious Zionism, represented by Rav Kook, values being a light unto other nations.
  • The Kishnev Pogrom

    The Kishnev Pogrom
    A mob led by priests killed Jews all over the city, Kishnev. Jews were taken and slaughtered. Psychologically, the Jews felt ashamed of their Jewishness. They felt utterly helpless and were very submissive. Chaim Bialik wrote a poem about the pogrom. This pogrom bred a new generation of Zionists. Zionism begins as a rejection to the way they have been acting. They don’t want to hide and cower any more.
  • Jewish Women Begin to Unionize

    Jewish Women Begin to Unionize
    Due to terrible working conditions, the Jews, particularly women, began to unionize. Even though it was extremely risky, they decided to ban together and threaten to quit if the workers did not meet their demands. The women established the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and spent decades demanding workplace safety, collective bargaining, minimum wage, building and health codes. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory was a major turning point for the fight against better working conditions.
  • Second Generation American Jews

    Second Generation American Jews
    The Jews who came from the Pale of Settlement were extremely different from their children, who integrated into American culture. The kids were somewhat rebellious, wanting to be stereotypical "American" teenagers, while their parents pushed them towards old tradition. They grew up in urban centers in poor homes, but strived for a professional degree and a house in the suburbs. This was their idea of success.
  • The Effect of the Holocaust

    The Effect of the Holocaust
    The American Jews were great at financially supporting victims of the Holocaust, but not at taking political action. They were feeling more secure as Americans, rather than as Jews in America. This is why they failed to unify as a nation and take a major stance against the Nazis. However, by the 1950s, the Holocaust reignited Jewish activism. The Jews realized that part of the recipe for Jewish survival was to keep the memmory of the Holocaust burned into everyone's mind.
  • The Conservative Movement

    The Conservative Movement
    Conservatism was formed by a group of people who wanted to create a new movement that better reflected their ideals than the reform movement. They believed in preserving the past, while the reform Jews wanted to change the past. Conservative Jews designed policies according to the community's will. They placed community over individual authority. Even with the growth of the conservative movement, orthodoxy eventually became the dominant form of Judaism.