Modern Jewish History Timeline

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    The Enlightenment

    The Enlightenment was a movement in the 17th and 18th century. Its purpose was to reform society through reason and logic and question ideas based on faith. It promoted science and intellect and was pro the separation of church and state.
  • Immigration to America

    Immigration to America
    The first few Jews arrived in America in 1654 escaping the wrath of the Portuguese. Since then there have been three major waves of foreigners immigrating to the United States, looking for a better life. The first was the Spanish- Portuguese Jews in the 17th and 18th century. Later, 144,000 German- Jews came to America from 1830-1860. In 1880-1924 there was a huge wave of poor Eastern European Jews coming to America.
  • The Cherem of Barch Spinoza

    The Cherem of Barch Spinoza
    Baruch Spinoza was put in cherem after questioning the authority of the rabbis in his community. Traditionally, when one is put into cherem the Jew would repent and return to his faith or convert to Christianity. Baruch Spinoza challenged this notion by becoming the first secular Jew. Spinoza lays the foundation for a religious pursuit of understanding natural law. He believes in the individual’s idea to reason for himself and the rejection of authority that is based on fear and faith.
  • Jews influenced by the Haskalah

    Jews influenced by the Haskalah
    The Enlightenment or the Haskalah resulted in the creation of secular Jewish culture. This movement marked the beginning of Jews participating in cultural practices and no longer feeling a tie to rabbinic authority. These Jews known, as Maskilim wanted a more secular lifestyle modeled after Baruch Spinoza, who was the first secular Jew. Moses Mendelssohn was the father of the Jewish Enlightenment; bring secular life to the Orthodox Jewish community.
  • Hasidism is Founded

    Hasidism is Founded
    Baal Shem Tov first founds Hasidism in 1750 in response to the Maskilim movement. He and his followers aspired, to have a strong commitment to the torah and have a Jewish life that emphasized the ability of all Jews to grow closer to god via day-to-day life. They believed that one did not have to be a scholar to have a relationship with god, and in order to reach spiritual heights one must mimic what the rebbe does and says. Followers of this faction were generally poor shetl folk.
  • Formation of the Misnagdim

    Formation of the Misnagdim
    The Misnagdim were a reaction to the Hassidic movement, the name of their movement means "against". They had a more traditional viewpoint and were based primarily in Lithuania, Northern Belorussia, and northeastern Poland. Their philosophy believed that man should learn all day in yeshiva and become leaders of their community. They had many yeshivot in Europe such as Volshyn and Chochmei Lublin.
  • Emancipation in America

    Emancipation in America
    America was the first country in history to emancipate Jews in 1790. At the time it was not that big of a deal because there weren't that many Jews in America then. Jews only became a big part of the U.S.A in the next century to come.
  • The French Revolution Begins

    The French Revolution Begins
    The French Revolution began in 1789 and ended in 1799. The lower class rebelled after being treated poorly. The commoners desired the fundamental principles of liberty, equality, and individual rights. After the Revolution, France was in turmoil, and Napoleon took over in 1804. He wanted to unify the French Empire under one system of law, language, culture, and education.
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    Jewish Emancipation in Europe

    As a result of the Enlightenment, many countries and nations began to recognize the rights of the Jewish people by granting them citizenship. It was a long process but by 1871 almost everyone in Western Europe had granted the Jews rights.
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    The American- Jewish Experience

    From the time the first Jews came to America in 1694, they have had a long history. Yet, the population of Jews grew in great numbers circa 1800. From the tenements to the suburbs, Jews have found a home in America and prospered to great stature.
  • Nopolean Sanhedrin

    Nopolean Sanhedrin
    Napoleon realizes that the Jews are not immersing themselves in French culture. He wanted everyone to be unified. He calls for a Sanhedrin, which had not happened in 1800 years since the Beit Hamikdash. This Sanhedrin was called on Shabbat, to test the Jews' loyalty. Napoleon sent the 71 notables in the Sanhedrin, 12 questions about Jewish law and their role in French Society. The Rabbis were forced to renounce their power, to ensure the equality of Jews in French society.
  • Reform Judaism

    Reform Judaism
    When all Jews were granted political emancipation, they begin to assimilate into secular culture, causing them to lose part of their Jewish identity. Specifically, the Jews in Germany begin to challenge principles of Judaism and rabbinical authority. Reforms included making Judaism no longer a nation but solely a religion. Additionally, reform Jews wanted to veer away from blind faith and focus solely on reason based belief. The Jews wanted to mimic the Lutherans by creating the Hamburg Temple.
  • Rav Hirsch responds to Reform

    Rav Hirsch responds to Reform
    Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch's Neo- Orthodox movement was a response to the Reform movement. Rav Hirsch believed in having a balance of secularism and religiosity (Torah umadah). He thought the ideal Jew was the enlightened person who observed the precepts. Rav Hirsch influenced many around the world and wrote the book, "The Nineteen Letters of Ben Uzziel."
  • Jews Move to the Lower East Side

    Jews Move to the Lower East Side
    When the Jews immigrated to America from the Pale of Settlement, they found themselves living in tenements in the Lower East Side. Tenement buildings were run down, lacked clean conditions, and were extremely small. Many Jews worked in factories to barely make ends meet. One of these factories was the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, where there was a firing, killing 146 people in 1911. This sparked the campaign for building regulations to protect the factories workers of America.
  • Pale of Settlement

    Pale of Settlement
    Even though the Pale of Settlement had been around since the late 1700's, conditions had remained inadequate for the Jews. They often had to live through pogroms and riots. Additionally, they had to pay high taxes, live in horrid conditions, and Jews were often drafted to the army without consent.
  • BILU Manifesto is Published

    BILU Manifesto is Published
    Followers of the BILU movement were the first Zionist pioneers. This young Jewish group was responding to the anti Semitism occurring in Hungary. They migrated to Israel, in the first aliyah to Israel, to start a new community and build Israel up from scratch.
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    The Revival of Judaism in Modern Europe

    Even though Jews had prayed to return to Israel for hundreds of years they began to take action in the late 1800's. Many movements were established to advocate for Jewish self- determination in Israel.
  • America Industrializes

    America Industrializes
    At the end of the 19th century America industrializes and begins relying on assembly lines and quick cheap production. This is good for the Jews because no longer do they have to be skilled workers they just needed to learn one part of the process in making the product in a factory. The goal was to produce large quantities cheaply and quickly; this was why the factories had such terrible working conditions.
  • Zionestic Groups are Established

    Zionestic Groups are Established
    In 1896, Herzl wrote his work about the solution to the Jewish question. Herzl believed in Political Zionism, or that Jews needed self-determination. Later, Ahad Haam stressed Cultural Zionism, or breaking with European culture to establish a strong Jewish culture in Israel. Rav Kook stressed Religious Zionism, or settling Israel for religious purposes and influencing all the nations. A.D Gordon emphasized Labor Zionism, or working the land in Israel to prove that Jews are not weak after all.
  • Kishinev Pogrom

    Kishinev Pogrom
    Under Czar Nicholas Alexander II, one of the most anti- Semitic pogroms took place in the Pale of Settlement, the Kishinev Pogrom. Over 120 were killed, 500 injured, and women were raped. This is the tipping point for the Jewish people, to take control of their nation. Haim Nahman Bialik, wrote a response to this riot in his poem, "In the City of Slaughter," He did not like how the Jews were acting and believed the solution was Jewish self determination.
  • Balfour Declaration

    Balfour Declaration
    In 1917, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour wrote a letter to Lionel Rothschild promising the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Israel. The British knew they'd inherit the Palestinian Mandate, and they wanted to win over the Jews.
  • World War II ends

    World War II ends
    After World War II ends many Jews are placed in Displaced Persons camps. The Allied Military created and administrated the camps that ran from 1945-1952. The Jews would create a community in each DP camp. Following the DP camps many Jews immigrated to America to seek a better life.
  • The State of Israel is Established

    The State of Israel is Established
    On May 14, 1948, the Jewish people established the Jewish State of Israel after much work.
  • Conservative Judaism

    Conservative Judaism
    In the 1950's Jews prospered economically and moved to the suburbs. Reform Judaism spread throughout suburbia, yet some Jews believed this movement to be too secular and created the Conservative Movement. Conservative Judaism started in 1883, yet it only began to flourish in 1955. The Conservative Movement stressed modernity, change, and incorporating American ideals into Judaism. The Jewish Theological Seminary was founded by the Conservative Movement to train Jews to be future leaders.