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Modern Jewish History Timline

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    Age of Enlightenment

    The Age of Enlightenment is a movement of intellects who reformed soceity using logic and reason. Beggining in Europe, the Enlightenment eventaully spread to America. Thinkers challenged traditional beleifs and furthered scientific knowledge. Before the Enlightenment, Jews were not integrated into scoety, but with challenging main stream traditions, secularism spread throughout various communities.
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    The Early Modern Period

    Jews begin to disperse, innovate, create, rebel and react
  • Excommunication of Baruch Spinoza

    Excommunication of Baruch Spinoza
    Baruch Spinoza, born in 1632, was a Jewish-Dutch philosopher raised in Amsterdam. He laid the groundwork for future biblical criticism leading to his excommunication from the Jewish community. Spinoza is the first Jew, put in cherem, to completely leave the community instead of repenting. He believes in separation of church and state and advocates for individual reasoning.
  • Shtelakh

    Though the Jewish people are usually thought of as an urban nation, many less privileges Jews lived in shtelakh in Europe. Despite the harsh living conditions, the sense of communal responsibility and obligation created a thriving environment for rural Jews.
  • Mosses Mendelssohn is born

    Mosses Mendelssohn is born
    Mosses Mendelssohn, a German Jew apart of the Haskala, is the first to bring secular culture into an Orthodox lifestyle. The Maskilim are a secular group of Jews in Europe. They advocate adopting Enlightenment values including integrating into society and increasing education in secular studies. They begin the first movement of non-religious Jews and spark the first Zionist political movement.
  • Mayer Amschel Rothschild is born

    Mayer Amschel Rothschild is born
    Meyer Amschel Rothschild, pictured, was born in Germany. He controlled banks in Frankfurt and eventually sent his five sons to expand the company to various major cities around the world. The family emerged as the greatest banking power in Europe and a major symbol of Jewish wealth and power. Government leaders began to request financial help from the Rothschilds, and in turn, the family used their power to better conditions for all Jews.
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    Political Emancipation

    European powers decide to allow Jews to become equal citizens
  • Excommunication of the Hasidim

    Excommunication of the Hasidim
    During the weakening of rabbinic authority, two major orthodox groups emerge: the Misnagdim founded by the Vila Goan focusing on Halacha and the Chasidim founded by the Baal Shem Tov focusing on solitude and individual reasoning. Constantly in competition, the Misnagdim excommunicated the Hasidim because of their mystical and supernatural claims that went against the traditional Jewish view.
  • Emancipation in the United States

    Emancipation in the United States
    Though European powers claim to have given the Jewish people Emancipation, the United States of America is the first county to disregard the phrase "To the Jews as individuals, all rights. To the Jews as people, no rights." Since in comparison to Europe, few Jews lived in America, emancipation only became significant during the next century.
  • The French Revolution

    The French Revolution
    The French Revolution causes France, along with other European powers to rethink government’s powers, ultimately allowing Jews to maintain equal rights and citizenship.
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    The American Experience

    The first amendment, a booming economy, American values and easy access helps America emerge as a popular place for Jewish people to live
  • Napoleon's Sanhedrin

    Napoleon's Sanhedrin
    Napoleon’s goal was to establish French-Jews instead of Jewish-Frenchmen after emancipation. He reinstituted the Sanhedrin, composed of seventy-one delegates debating political and religious manners, to answer various questions regarding Jewish obligation to a foreign land. Napoleon asked questions about intermarriage, non-Jews, polygamy and war. Ironically, Jewish affiliation and rabbinic authority both decrees after emancipation.
  • Inauguration of the Hamburg Temple

    Inauguration of the Hamburg Temple
    The Jewish people in Germany had the opportunity to rewrite Judaism after emancipation. They alter religion based on Enlightenment principals. The Reform Movement founded the Hamburg Temple, changing prayer, service, the community and Judaism as a nationality.
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    The Jewish nation wants a Jewish state
  • Hirsch Proclaimes Torah eim Derech Eretz

    Hirsch Proclaimes Torah eim Derech Eretz
    Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch was born in Germany. His family, mostly merchants, started the study of Talmud Torah in Hamburg. Though his parents wanted him to continue the legacy, Hirsch decided to become a rabbi. Upon his arrival in Frankfurt, he establishes a branch of Judaism, known as Neo-Orthodoxy, based on the principle Torah eim Derech Eretz. Hirsch created a relationship between traditionally observant Judaism and the outside modern world.
  • Jewish Theological Seminary

    Jewish Theological Seminary
    As a reaction to Reformed Judaism and the treyfa banquet, the Conservative Movement founds the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Prioritizing communal needs, they maintains Hebrew as the language of the people, support Zionism and abide by halacha.
  • Dedication of the Statue of Liberty

    Dedication of the Statue of Liberty
    A present from France to America, the statue of liberty symbolizes peace to the entire world. The statue of liberty also represents Jewish freedom. On the bottom of the statue, there is a phrase from Vayikra 25:10 talking about freedom. This is only an example of a reoccurring trend highlighting the commonalities between the values of America and the values of Judaism.
  • The First Zionist Congress

    The First Zionist Congress
    Theodore Herzl, founder of Zionism, was born in Austria-Hungary. He believed in a safe haven for the Jewish people to govern their own affairs. Hertzels visionary ideas lead to three other branches of Zionism to be formed: cultural, labor and religious. While cultural Zionism focused on the individuality of the Jewish people, labor Zionism focused on improving work ethics. Afterward, the religious Zionistic movement sprouted to help other nations and maintain an internal bias for fellow Jews.
  • The Kishnev Pogrom

    The Kishnev Pogrom
    The Pale of Settlement is the term given to a region in Russia where Jews could freely and permanently settle. Due to low living standards, social welfare and Tzedaka became popular within the community. The Pale also leads to the first waves of Zionism throughout Europe because of the anti Semitism felt during Pogroms. In particular, the Kishinev Pogrom led Chaim Bialik to write poetry about the unsustainable conditions and a need for self-determination.
  • The First Aliya

    The First Aliya
    The BILU Manifesto is the first wave of immigrant to settle in the land of Israel. Drop outs from high school and college, the leaders of the movement saw no future in Russia and strived for self-determination in a Jewish state. The movement was influenced by Chaim Bilak's poems and anti Semitism in Europe.
  • Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

    Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
    In a tenement in New York, hundreds of women piled on top of each other sowing, cutting and shaping fabric. Disregarding current chemical and fire regulations, an unstoppable fire broke out on the 8th floor, burning down the building and killing over 80 Spanish, German and European Jews, who also live in tenements, start worker unions and construct Jewish communities in the Lower East Side.
  • The Holocaust Ends

    The Holocaust Ends
    World War Two ends and the Americans liberate concentration camps. They create DP camps for the recuperating survivors in Europe. This sparks the motivation for the state of Israel.
  • Israel is Founded

    Israel is Founded
    Israel and surrounding Arab nations fought in the War for Independence. After a civil war against the Partition Plan, the Jewish People's Council declared the establishment of the state of Israel. Jewish self-determination in the holy land is achieved for the first time since the destruction of the second temple.
  • The Conservative Movement Emerges as the Largest Group in American Judaism

    The Conservative Movement Emerges as the Largest Group in American Judaism
    Conservative Judaism continued to thrive in the United States. Because of many secular professions post WWII, Jews began to thrive and make large sums of money. They moved into the suburbs and lived a traditional "American Dream" lifestyle with a white picket fence and new Cadillac. USY youth groups, Camp Ramah experiences, bar mitzvahs, Israel summer programs and synagogue three times a year, all contribute to the Conservative Movement's lifestyle.