Modern Jewish History

  • Baruch Spinoza exiled, undermines rabbinic authority

    Baruch Spinoza exiled, undermines rabbinic authority
    Baruch Spinoza was the first secular Jew. Living in a time when Rabbinic authority was strong, the rabbis exiled Spinoza (put him in cherem) for being skeptical toward Judaism. He left the Jewish community and happily resorted to a secular lifestyle. Spinoza paved the way for the European Enlightenment. The result of this was a weakening of Rabbinic authority - Rabbis overused cherem, and consequently, the punishmment of cherem did not carry as much weight as it previously had.
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    This era was marked by advancements in secular society, as well as with civil rights, and emancipation for the Jews. This was when the Jewish enlightenment was at its peak, and the Reform Movement soon followed. Another prominent feature of this era was the weakening of Rabbinic authority.
  • Judaism splits

    Judaism splits
    Judaism split the Hassidim, Misnagdim and Maskilim. Founded by the Baal Shem Tov, Hassidim stressed the idea that any Jew could have meaningful spiritual experiences if they really tried and had the right intentions. The Misnagdim opposed Hasidim, lived strictly traditionally Jewish lifestyles and preferred learning Torah over having creative spiritual experiences, such as the ones that Hassidim valued. The Maskilim were Jews of the Haskala - Jewish Enlightenment. They promoted secularism.
  • America gets independence

    America gets independence
    America gets independence from Britain. Just as America got independence from Britain, so too, the Jews living in America received Emancipation. America was actually the first country to emancipate the Jews. Judaism shares many ideas with American ideals. This is evident on the Liberty bell, located in Philladelphia, which quotes a poem written by a Jew (Emma Lazarus).
  • French Revolution

    French Revolution
    France was the first European country to give the Jews emancipation. This act of emancipating the Jews was partly a result ot the French Revolution, which promoted equality and democracy. As a result of this, the Jews ended up receiving liberty and democracy as well.
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    Emancipation in Western Europe

    Finally the Jews received emancipation in Europe. When Jews received emancipation they were able to become citizens of the country they lived in, so they had full rights, and it was easier to openly practice Judaism.
  • Emancipation in France

    Emancipation in France
    After the french Revolution, people realized that rights should be based on action, not intention - that for instance, the Jews should be given rights. Even though they have slightly different beliefs, they act loyally to France.The leader of France gave Jews emancipation, which allowed Jews to become citizens of France, and in turn, gave them many more rights.
  • Napoleon's Grand Sanhedrin

    Napoleon's Grand Sanhedrin
    Napoleon wanted to determine how loyal Jews were to France, so he reinstated the Grand Sanhedrin. To get this information from Jews, Napoleon would send out Halakhic questions, asking Jews to solve issues how they would solve them. Based on their answers Napoleon would be able to tell if they first identified with the state or with their religion.
  • Reform Movement (Europe)

    Reform Movement (Europe)
    This movement was a conservative reaction to the Jewish enlightenment. Jews noticed that many other Jews were straying away from Judaism to become more secular, so they created Reform Judaism. This was meant to be more secular than other more religious sects of Judaism. It tried to emulate the orderliness and simplicity of German Lutheranistic society.
  • Neo-Othodoxy

    Rav Hirsch founded this movement as a reaction to the Reform Movement. Rav Hirsch thought that Reform Judaism was not observant enough, and he opposed all the reforms that were taking place. Neo-Orthodoxy believed that Jews can and should be religious, even when living in a secular enviroment. Rav Hirsch said that this movement would eventually overtake other sects of judaism because of its growing popularity. Orthodoxy
  • First wave of Jewish immigratoin

    First wave of Jewish immigratoin
    The first wave of Jewish immigrants to America was German Jews. Many of these Gernan Jews were reformers who came to the United States hoping to be accepted into the secular community. This wave of immigrants was very different compared to the second wave of immirants.
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    American experience

    America was the first country to emancipate the Jews. America was good to the Jews in giving them rights under the law, and allowing them to freely practice their religion.
  • 2nd wave of immigration

    2nd wave of immigration
    The second wave came from Eastern Europe, and had no intentions of being secular, unlike the first wave of immigrants who wanted to be involved in secular society. They (second wave imigrants) were poor Jews who lived in overcrowded tennements in the Lower Eats side of New York, compared to the first wave of immigrants were more successful and could afford to live in better conditions.
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    When solutions of living in a secular European enviroment failed, Zionism started. Zionism was all about making the Jewish state of Israel. a reality, and putting an stopping Anti-Semitism. One of the main leaders with regards to Zionism was Theodor Herzl, who pushed for the Jews to have their own politically independent state.
  • BILU manifesto

    BILU manifesto
    A document expressing a group of young Jews' ideas and wishes that every Jew would go to Israel and make it theirs (for the Jews), and work the land so that it would be possible to live on.
    The BILU movement was a group of young Jews who actually went and worked the land. This document was them telling other Jews to come and join them in working the land of Israel.
  • Conservative movement founded

    Conservative movement founded
    The founding of the Conservative movement was a reaction to the Treifa banquet. When the religious Jews saw the non-Kosher food they realized that the Reform movement had gone too far. They had to act to keep Jewish tradition alive, so they established Conservative Judaism. Conservaive Judaism is liberal and all about maintaining some tradition, but just enough so that it's still appealing and within the boundaries of Jewish law. They want to be secular and moderately religious at the same time.
  • America industrializes

    America industrializes
    When America industrialized, it put Jews to work. Jews worked in assembly lines in bad conditions, making parts of products. Many times Jews worked in small, overcrowded tenement appartments sewing,
  • Dreyfus Trial

    Dreyfus Trial
    Alfred Dreyfus was a secular French Jew who had a high ranking in the French army and was accused of being a spy. He was given a trial, and even though it was fairly obvious that he was innocent, he was convicted and exiled from France. This showed that even though the Jews had received emancipation in France, there was still some anti-semitism. This event pushed Theodor Herzl to found Political Zionism.
  • First Zionist Congress

    First Zionist Congress
    This was where Jewish leaders came together to discuss the idea of a state of Israel. These leaders included Ahad Haam with Cultural Zionism, which advocated for the Jews to be unified and have a unique culture, Theodor Herzl with Political Zionism, which about politically having a Jewish state, A.D. Gordon with Labor Zionism, which encouraged Jews to phisically work the actual land of Israel, and las Rav Kook with Religious Zionism, which said that the Jews need to be a light unto the nations.
  • Kishinev Pogrom

    Kishinev Pogrom
    A gruesome pogrom in the Pale of Settlement. Chaim Bialik wrote a poem about what the scene looked like. It was an absolutely brutal massacre.
  • American suburbia

    American suburbia
    Becuase Jews reveiced higher incomes, they were able to move to the suburbs of urban cities. Jews did well in the suburbs. The children of the immigrants lived more comfortable lives than their parents. This second generationwere was pressured by their parents to succeed in order to sustain their Jewish families and continue living Jewish lifestyles.
  • Holocaust ends

    Holocaust ends
    The Holocaust, which killed 6 million Jews ended in along with World War 2 in 1945. After the Holocause ended, there were many refugees in Europe. Many of these refugees went to DP camps to recover, and many went to America. This new flood of immigrants contributed greatly to the new American Jewish population.
  • Israeli independence

    Israeli independence
    Israel became an official state.