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Modern Jewish History

  • First Jews settle in New Amerstdam

    First Jews settle in New Amerstdam
    23 Dutch Jews fleeing Portugeuse troops in Brazil come to New Amsterdam, America. They are the first Jews to settle in what is now the United States.
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    Early Modern Period

    As the Enlightenment sweeps Europe, the traditional system of European Jewry begins to break up. Meanwhile, the Rabbis turn to more drastic measures as a last hope to preserve their power and tradition.
  • Spinoza Excommunicated

    Spinoza Excommunicated
    The Dutch Jew, Baruch (Benedict) Spinoza, is excommunicated from the Jewish community for preaching unconventional beliefs. He continues to live a productive life, becoming the first Jew to succesfuly defy rabincal power. Many believe he cleared the path for secular Judaism.
  • Rabbinic Authority still strong

    Rabbinic Authority still strong
    Judaism is still largely controlled by a central network of Rabbis. However, this is the beginning of the end, for the better or the worst. Judaism will soon divide into several different factions
  • Haskalah

    As the enlightenment sweeps Europe, Secular Jews, or maskilim, are a more viable denomination of Judaism.
  • The Baal Shemtov & Hassidic Judaism

    The Baal Shemtov & Hassidic Judaism
    Coming from humble origins, Rabbi Yisroel ben Eliezer rises to prominence in Eastern Europe, where his spiritual approach to Judaism appeals to the blue-collar masses. His ideologies become the basis for Hassidic Judaism, a strong opponent to the cold and reserved Misnagdim.
  • Rothschilds & Shtadlanim

    Rothschilds & Shtadlanim
    Jews are still largely isolated from the world, but some individuals aquire more power. Shtadlanim, or court Jews, were succesful Jews elected by the community to serve the local ruler, in order to inform the goverment on the will of the Jewish community. The Rothschilds are among some of the most influential Jews to arise from this period, making fortunes off of a banking dynasty, while still remaining involved in the community
  • Misnagdim declare unification

    Misnagdim declare unification
    In response to the threat of Hassidism to traditional Judaism, Jews still loyal to the Rabbinical authority unify under the name "Misnagdim" or opponents. The Hassidic spiritual stance on Judaism only hardens them even more, making them even more reclusive and reliant on strict law.
  • Moses Mendelssohn admires Jesus

    Moses Mendelssohn admires Jesus
    Mendelssohn publishes an open letter adressed to his friend, Christian philosophist Johann Kaspar Lavater, saying that, though he admired Jesus for his morals, he didn't have to convert to Christianity because of it. A famous observant Jew openly admiring the ways of the outside world, Mendelssohn helped drive the Haskalah further and paved the way for Reform Judaism.
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    Jewish Emancipation and Secularization

    Jews across the Western world begin to gain equal citizenship with their non-Jewish neighbors. These developements are largely beneficial to the Jewish people, but assimilation and communal fracturing skyrocket as a byproduct.
  • Vilna Gaon put Hassidim in cherem

    Vilna Gaon put Hassidim in cherem
    Vilna Gaon, one of the leaders of the Misnagdim, excommunicates all Hassidim for their unconventional beliefs. This decree is not very effective, and heralds the end of cherem's power.
  • American Emancipation

    American Emancipation
    Shortly after its formation, America grants its Jewish citizens equal rights, becoming the first nation to do so.
  • Pale of Settlement opened to Jews

    Pale of Settlement opened to Jews
    The recently conquered Pale of Settlement is opened by the Russian Catherine the Great to Jewish settlers. Life in the Pale is comparitively easier for Jews than in other parts of Eastern Europe, encouraging the growth of strong communities in the area.
  • French Emancipation

    French Emancipation
    The government reformation that follows the French Revolution results in the Emancipation of all Jews under Napoleon.
  • Napoleon's Sanhedren

    Napoleon's Sanhedren
    Napoleon convenes the first meeting of a Jewish centruy in millenia, posing questions to test Jewish loyalty to his state. Most answers are to his satisfaction.
  • Hamburg Temple Founded

    Hamburg Temple Founded
    An effect of Emancipation, German Jews wanting to become more like their Lutheran Christian neighbors found the Hamburg Temple, one of the first Reform Temples in the world. The Temple's christianized customs, including mixed seating, musical accompaniment to prayer, and Sabbath services on Sunday appeal across Europe and America to those who want to become more like society without totally forsaking tradition.
  • Orthodox Boycott the Hamburg Temple

    Orthodox Boycott the Hamburg Temple
    Disgusted by Reform Judaism and fearing its potential to assimilate the community, Orthodox Jews in Hamburg petition to the city government to reject a request of relocation from the Hamburg Temple. The government at first listens, but as Reform Judaism gains more sway, eventually acquiesce.
  • German Jews immigrate to America

    German Jews immigrate to America
    Eager for the extended freedom and prosperity offered by America, a wave of German Jews emigrate.
  • R. Hirsch Revitalizes Orthodoxy

    R. Hirsch Revitalizes Orthodoxy
    With traditional observance being corroded by assimilation and movements like Reform Judaism, Orthodox Jews begin to realize that wholly isolating themselves is impractical. In order to fix this problem and appeal to the community again, Rabbi Samson Hirsch promotes Neo-Orthodoxy, an ideology that believes in a balance between secular and religious life.
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    As Emancipation's flaws become apparent, Jews of many denominations gather to petition for Jewish self-determination. Their efforts culimate in the creation of the state of Israel.
  • R. Kook is born

    R. Kook is born
    Abraham Isaac Kook is born in Griva, Russia to a Misnagdic family. He will later grow up to become the patron of Religious Zionism, ending up the Chief Rabbi of the British Mandate of Palestine. He serves as an inspiration even today for the Israeli Modern Orthodox.
  • The Mussar Movement

    The Mussar Movement
    The Mussar Movement emerged as a branch of Orthodoxy that focused on morals and ethics as an equal to halachic principle.
  • Bilu Settlers

    Bilu Settlers
    A group of young European Jews opt out of traditional college education in order to orcestrate the first attempt to settle the land of Israel for Jews. Even though they were unsuccesful themselves, they inspired many future Aliyot.
  • Ahad HaAm criticizes political zionism

    Ahad HaAm criticizes political zionism
    Asher Ginsberg, known by his pen name Ahad Haam, publishes his first article criticizing Herzl's political Zionism for not caring about the cultural aspect of Jewish identity. His own cultural Zionism placed Jewish culture foremost.
  • Eastern European Jews move to America

    Eastern European Jews move to America
    Fleeing violent pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe, over 2 million Jews emigrate to America, seeking better living conditions.
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    The American Experience

  • Herzl sees Dreyfus Affair

    Herzl sees Dreyfus Affair
    Theodore Herzl, a young Hungarian Jewish journalist, comes to France to record the Dreyfus Affair, the trial of a French Jewish general accused of treason. Herzl was appaled by the crowd's clear antisemitism, realizing that the trial was more about antisemitism than an actual crime, despite supposed "Emancipation." This revelation motivated Herzl to dedicate the rest of his life to solving the problem of Jewish persecution, leading him to the forefront of the Political Zionist movement.
  • First Zionist Congress

    First Zionist Congress
    Famous Zionist leaders from across Europe meet in Basil, Switzerland to discuss the future of Jewish self-determination. One featured speaker is Theodore Herzl, who advocates for the creation of a Jewish state in the ancient homeland of Israel.
  • Mizrahi Movement

    Mizrahi Movement
    "The People of Israel, In the Land of Israel, According to the Torah of Israel," the Mizrahi declares famously. The European movement is in strong support of religious Zionism, and eventually serves as the basis of Bnei Akiva.
  • Kishinev Pogrom

    Kishinev Pogrom
    One of the most horrid pogroms in the 20th Century, the Kishinev Pogrom in Kishinev, Russia created worldwide outrage. Seeing the ruins inspired Chaim Bialik to write a poem describing the defenseless of Jews in the exiled world, calling subtly for Jewish self-determination.
  • A.D. Gordon makes Aliyah

    A.D. Gordon makes Aliyah
    Aaron David Gordon, the founder of Labor Zionism, moves to the Israel, where he professes a form of Zionism focused on Tolstoy-inspired labor equality.
  • Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

    Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
    The result of poor working conditions, the Triangle Shirtwaist fire erupts in a New York City factory, killing 146 garment workers, at least 22 of whom are Jewish immigrants. The outrage that follows leads to better working rights and unionization, a movement led by Jews.
  • Jewish celebrities in American Culture

    Jewish celebrities in American Culture
    Hank Greenberg becomes the rolemodel for millions of Jews when he ascends to allstardom. His controversial decision against playing on Yom Kippur brought him national attention, and he managed to win that year's world series anyways.
  • Evian Conference

    Evian Conference
    Western countries including the US and UK hold the Evian conference in France, half-heartedly trying to solve the problem of the German Jewish struggle. They have a good time at the ski resort in Evian, but fail to save 6 million Jews from their fates.
  • WWII Begins

    WWII Begins
    Hitler invades Poland, starting the worst war in history. Over the next 6 years, until 1945, 6 million Jews will be slaughtered, a catastrophic event in Jewish history.
  • Holocaust survivors come to America

    Holocaust survivors come to America
    In the aftermath of WWII, nearly a million holocaust survivors flee to the United States, where they are welcomed by their brethren.
  • Israel Founded

    Israel Founded
    The UN charters the Jewish State of Israel, to the celebration of millions. The efforts of Zionists worldwide have payed off.
  • Conservative Judaism takes the lead

    Conservative Judaism takes the lead
    Conservative Judaism becomes the most popular denomination among American Jews, toting a traditional but leniant idealogy.
  • Jerusalem reclaimed

    Jerusalem reclaimed
    After a miraculous 6-day war against Jordan, Syria, and Egypt, Israel manages to take back the Holy City and Kotel. Jerusalem becomes the capital of Israel.
  • Intermarriage rates hit 40% in America

    Intermarriage rates hit 40% in America
    50% of American Jews marry nonjewish spouces, marking the beginning of a decline in American Judaism.
  • Israel overtakes America

    Israel overtakes America
    Israel finally has more Jews than America, with over 6 million living across the country.