Modern Jewish History

  • Enlightenment/Haskalah

    In Europe, the Enlightenment occured which was the rethinking of traditional philosophy and replacing it with logic and scientific support. The world was influenced by secularizing and drifting from the traditional ways of life encouraged by Christianity and Catholicicsm. Jews then secularized, had jobs unrelated to Jewish practice, and counter rabbinic authority with scientific logic. In the 1700s, Maskilim were Jews following the Enlightenment ideology countering the Hasidim and Misnagdim.
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    Early Modern Period

    This era featured many newfound characteristics that shaped society and Jewish unity for the future.
    A. Mobility: Jews would communicate with Jews from various places.
    B. Comunal Cohesiveness: As rabbinic power decreased, communal unity increased.
    C. Knowledge Explosion: The Enlightenment broadened thought and aproaches to life with newfound knowledge pouring out everywhere.
    D. Decline of Rabbinic Authority
    E. Blurring of Religious Identities: Many sects of Judaism started to emerge.
  • Excommunication of Spinoza

    Excommunication of Spinoza
    Baruch Spinoza was an Enlightened Jew that broke from tradition publically with no shame. He was no athiest, but he did not care when he was exiled. He was not struck by lightning and did not think the rabbis had the authority to decide his fate from God and God's perfection. This event showed the masses that although he was excommunicated, he survived and displayed the flaws of rabbinic authority. This prompted extreme questioning of tradition.
  • Conversion of Shabbatai Zevi

    Conversion of Shabbatai Zevi
    The man who was thought to be the Messiah and the ultimate savior failed to be what he was made out to be. Shabbatai Zevi converted to Islam when the Turkish sultan, a Muslim, provided him with a 'convert-or-die' pradicament. This event is significant in the decline of rabbinic authority as he had many followers that believed in him as the Messiah and in his 'authority.' This conversion shocked Jewry and after Spinoza's philosophy spread, people started to rethink the legitimacy of the rabbis.
  • Hasidim

    The Baal Shem Tov led a movement desinged to include the uneducated Jewish field workers into a spiritual form of Judaism with the belief that the proper intention is equal to daily, intense Yeshivish Torah learning. It developed a unique following with a rebbe as a central figure and communal role model. This new sect of Judaism, viewed by some as a break-off branch, was an outlet from traditional 'misnagdish' life, and often connected to the Divine through song.
  • Misnagdim

    Led by the Vilna Gaon, the Misnagdim, a term meaning the opposers, rose up in N. Poland and Lithuania in order to preserve rabbinic authority once the Hasidim made their ideology and beliefs public. Places such as R. Chaim Veluzhin's yeshiva included classical and immensely intense Talmud learning. The Vilna Gaon passionately opposed the Hasidim and their ideology, promoting yeshiva learning. He also placed Hasidism in cherem.
  • The French Revolution

    The French Revolution
    France endures a revolution to promote equality for all. The absolute monarchy was upheaved and resulted in radical change politically and socially. This paved the way for Jewish emancipation.
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    Political Emancipation

    Following an Age of Enlightenment, there was widespread reactionary conservatism by rethinking society. In such, many nations granted the Jews political emancipation. A large defect of this blending of the Jewish culture with normative European culture is vast assimilation. This assimilation gives birth to the Reform Movement and much change to follow. Further effects are seen as this creation of Reform Judaism spurs a reaction and leads to rise of Neo-Orthodoxy and later Conservative Judaism.
  • Emancipation of Jews in France

    Emancipation of Jews in France
    After much debate over emancipation of the Jewish people, the French National Assembly granted the Jewish people as full fledged citizens of France. This event is a result of the French Revolution.
  • Berr Isaac Berr's Address

    Berr Isaac Berr's Address
    Berr Isaac Berr wrote a letter that discusses the recent emancipation of Jews in France. He had the foresight of a jovial and ingrateful Jewish people and attempted to eradicate it at the source. His bold letter addressed the way the Jews must live within the confines of their culture and being primarily Frenchmen.
  • Napoleon's Sanhedrin

    Napoleon's Sanhedrin
    Napoleon calls for an assembly of Jewish notables from various sects in order to test their faith and loyalty to the mainstream culture of France. He gives his Sanhedrin various dilemmas including intermarriage and national or religious loyalties in order to determine their worth as Frenchmen.
  • Reform Movement/Hamburg Temple

    Reform Movement/Hamburg Temple
    Following a short period of acculturation to the Jews' emancipation, many took this adaptation further and create the Reform Movement. Now that they were primarily Frenchmen, the reformers capitalized on the immense weakness of rabbinic authority. This movement gave Jews a way to practice with new traditions and a new Jewish identity while really engaging in the secular world. The first instance of this is the creation of the Hamburg Temple, in which totally unorthodox practices were normative.
  • Neo-Orthodoxy

    As a response to the rise of Reform Judaism, there is a completely counter-reaction. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch spearheads the movement of Neo-Orthodoxy to counteract the blasphemous change he saw detrimental to the Jewish people.
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    Rise of Zionism

    Zionism, the idea of Jewish self-determination, emerged after contless acts of persecution, along with an eternal history of being hated. Through four separate ideologies of how to settle the Promised Land (Cultural, Religious, Political, and Labor Zionism), a foundation for the state of Israel was born. This era included many acts and figures from all of the various sects of Zionism meant to support and spread this idea of having a Jewish State before Israel finally attaining independence.
  • BILU/Labor Zionism

    BILU/Labor Zionism
    BILU was a young group of the first pioneers instead of college in order to physically build the State of Israel. A.D. Gordon, a leader of Labor Zionism, had the ideology that you must not sit back, but be active and rely on yourself, and not just God and the rabbis, in order to succeed. He compared it to the days when the Jews built the Holy Temples.
  • Treifa Banquet

    Treifa Banquet
    The Hebrew Union College (throws a banquet celebrating its first graduating class. They invite all prominent Jews from all sects. The menu is filled with all non-kosher food. This "chutzpah" was seen crossing the line. Conservative reactions are taken sparking the rise of Conservative Judaism.
  • Dreyfus Trial/Political Zionism

    Dreyfus Trial/Political Zionism
    Alfred Dreyfus was falsely convicted as a German spy when in reality he was a loyal Frenchman working his way up. Theodore Herzl was a journalist and reported on the trial. He realized that there was still anti-Semitism even after emancipation and assimilation. Herzl is known as the founder of Political Zionism, the belief that the state of Israel is necessary for self-determination to counter anti-Semitism.
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    The American Jewish Experience

    Before and after the Holocaust, thousands of Jews immigrated to the States in search of starting a new life in a free country. People developed into either "Jewish Americans." who prioritized Judaism overall, and others "American Jews," primairly engaged in secular culture. While growing from poor tenaments into luxurious mansions, a broad variety of Jewish identities were displayed and formed in America.
  • Cultural/Religious Zionism

    Cultural/Religious Zionism
    Cultural Zionism, tied to Achad Ha'am, focused on restoring a complete, unbroken, Jewish heart, to feel united and not to assimliate. This ideology pushed for developing orignial culture and not relying to worldly culture.
    Religious ZIonism, linked with Rav Kook, encompassed being a light to the gentiles and fulfilling religious obligations. Jews will get the chance to do what our forefathers were promised to and live in the holiest place on Earth while welcoming non-Jews into a peaceful state.
  • Czarist Russia: Kishinev Pogrom

    Czarist Russia: Kishinev Pogrom
    From the 1890s, Jews living in the Pale of Settlement in Russia had no rights nor did anyone respect them. Although other countries in Western Europe had emancipated Jews, under the Czar, the Jews had no protection. The Kishinev Pogrom featured violent, hazardous, malicious riots towards the Jews without repercussions or punishment. Chaim Nachman Bialik, the Zionistic poet, said that because of tragedies like this, the Jews need a homeland to avoid persecution and develop their own country.
  • The First Wave of American Jewish Immigrants

    The First Wave of American Jewish Immigrants
    The first wave of Jewish immigrants to America is comprised of many poor traditional groups of Jews from Eastern Europe into Ellis Island. Among this wave are 3.4 million immigrants who view America as the "Goldene Medina" and came in search of success. They lived in the Lower East Side of New York City in tiny tenament buildings.
  • The Three C's: Concentration Camps, Conservative Judaism, Comic Books

    The Three C's: Concentration Camps, Conservative Judaism, Comic Books
    From the 1940s-1990s, there is the idea known as the 3 "C's" - concentration camps, Conservative Judaism, and comic books. These three points can characterize a large chunk of the Jewish experience in America.There is an influx of Jews as a result of the Holocaust and concentration camps. During this time, Conservative Judaism sees a large rise. Adaptation to pop culture and a secular lifestyle become common.
  • Holocaust/World War II

    Holocaust/World War II
    In 1939, World War II began and had a large impact socially, economically, politically, and emotionally on the world. The Holocaust was the mass extermination of 6 million European Jews in concentration camps and death camps. Adolf Hitler led this destruction of European Jewry. This unimaginable tragedy is largely viewed by many as the final straw of anti-Semitism leading to a demand for a Jewish home. The most devastating act of anti-Semitism likely convinced the UN to grant the Jews a state.
  • Israel Attains Independence

    Israel Attains Independence
    The United Nations granted the State of Israel independence.
  • The Second Generation of Jews in America

    The Second Generation of Jews in America
    These Jews see their parents as the first immigrants and from therein feel many pressures in life. They must outdo their parents and make it in America. To prove this success, they use many symbols from mainstream American culture that represent a sense of accomplish. The epitome of this idea is Hank Greenberg. He was able to work his way up the meritocracy and be at the top of the sporting spectacle to all of America.