HIST/JS 270: Survey of Jewish History

 

florence-synagogue

Fall 2016
TTh 11:30am-12:45pm
Tarbutton Hall 111

 

 

Dr. Eric L. Goldstein
Office: 204C Candler Library
E-mail: egoldst [at] emory [dot] edu
Office hours: by appointment
The TA for this course is:
Matthew Brittingham
m [dot] h [dot] brittingham [at] emory [dot] edu
(office hours: Th 2-4pm, 203 Candler
Library)

Course Description:
This introductory level course offers an overview of the history of Jews and Judaism. It is appropriate for both Jewish Studies majors as a starting point for further study and for non-specialists who wish a general overview of the field. The course will explore Jewish life from the biblical period to the present, examining how the Jews have defined themselves socially and politically in a number of historical and geographical settings, how Jewish theology and religious practice have been shaped and transformed, and how Jews have interacted with and responded to the societies in which they have lived. In achieving these goals, special emphasis will be placed on the use of primary texts-original documents that will allow students to develop their skills
at hands-on historical analysis. These documents will not only be employed as teaching tools in the weekly lectures, but will be the focus of regular discussion sessions where we will analyze the sources together in order to elucidate the major issues and trends of each historical period.

Texts:
The following texts are available for purchase at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore:
• Raymond Scheindlin, A Short History of the Jewish People (MacMillan, 1998).
• Jacob R. Marcus, The Jew in the Medieval World (Hebrew Union College Press, 1999).
• Jehuda Reinharz and Paul Mendes-Flohr, eds., The Jew in the Modern World: A Documentary History, 2nd ed. (Oxford, 2011).
TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures (Jewish Publication Society, 1985).

Note: Although I have ordered copies of the JPS TANAKH for those who would like to purchase it, you may substitute any available translation of the Hebrew Bible. The JPS translation and many others are available in the reference section of Pitts Theology Library, and the Bible is widely available online.
• There will also be a few readings available through online reserve. You can access these simply by clicking on the links provided in the online version of this syllabus at https://scholarblogs.emory.edu/surveyjh


Course Requirements:

Attendance and Participation:
Class attendance is essential to a successful learning experience. Because we will be covering a large sweep of history in a relatively short time, and because the ability to identify trends at work in different periods of Jewish history is central to the course, absences can seriously impede your understanding of the material. As a result, students who are absent more than twice may find their grade affected. In addition, even when you are absent, you are responsible for making sure that all assignments are handed in to the professor by the due date, either through a friend or via e-mail. Finally, to get the most out of the course, active participation is expected. Remember: participation does not mean having all the “right” answers. A thoughtful observation or question can often help clarify a particularly difficult point for the class.

Readings and Assignments:
Be sure to complete the assigned readings before the appropriate class. In general, readings in the Scheindlin book will be assigned in preparation for lectures, while documents from the Marcus and Reinharz/Mendes-Flohr (JMW) readers will be assigned for both the lectures and discussion sessions. While you do not need to bring the Scheindlin book with you each time, you should bring Marcus and JMW with you on days when relevant documents will be discussed (the same goes for documents or articles assigned and posted online). Before each class session, students will receive a question that they are to answer in writing (one or two paragraphs; in some cases it just asks for a list, and you  may simply provide bullet points, but they should be coherently written in sentence form, not just a few words). The paragraphs will be discussed in class and collected at random. Again, you are responsible for getting these assignments to the professor even if you are absent.

Exams and Grading:
There will be three exams, one on each of the major historical periods we will be covering in the course: ancient, medieval and modern (see the course schedule for exact dates). Due to the limited time available to us in class, some of the exams may have take-home sections. While each exam will focus on a distinct historical period, the final exam will also ask you to make some comparisons between the various periods. The final grades for the course will be determined according to the following break-down:
• Attendance and class participation: 10%
• Exams: 70% (first and second exams, 20% each; final exam, 30%)
• collected homework responses: 20%

Honor Code:
All students are expected to abide by Emory University’s honor code, which prohibits all forms of academic dishonesty including cheating and plagiarism. Plagiarism means submitting material from a book, a website, or any other source without acknowledging that the words or the ideas are someone else’s. When in doubt about this matter, please ask the instructor to explain further, or consult the Center for Online Education’s Avoiding Plagiarism website. We treat academic dishonesty as a serious offense and, in accordance with the policies of Emory College, will immediately report all violations of the honor code to the Honor Council.

Course Schedule and Readings:

Thurs., Aug. 25
Course Introduction and
Origins: Israelite History

Tues., Aug. 30
Discussion: Biblical Literature

Readings: Scheindlin, 1-23; Leviticus 26; Judges 3, Judges 4
Question: Sum up in one or two sentences the main theological point(s) of Leviticus 26. Refer to specific verses in explaining your answer. Does Judges 3-4 exemplify the same theology as Leviticus 26, does it violate it, or does it present a different stance?

Thurs., Sept. 1
Exile, Diaspora and the Emergence of “Judaism”

Readings: Scheindlin, 25-33; Ezra 10: 1-44
Question: After the destruction of the first Temple, how are the Israelites who are exiled to Babylonia able to maintain their religion and identity as a minority in a foreign land?

Tues., Sept. 6
The Second Commonwealth

Readings: Scheindlin, 33-42;  I Maccabees 1-2; II Maccabees 6-7
Question: Compare the two accounts in I and II Maccabees, paying attention to how the conflict is portrayed (motives, methods, etc.) and who the key parties are.

Thurs., Sept. 8
The Late Second Temple Period

Readings: Scheindlin, 43-9
Question: What are the issues over which the Jewish sects of the late Second Temple Period divided? Be prepared in class to cite the specific positions of each sect on these issues.

Tues., Sept. 13
Bar Kokhba and Early Rabbinic Judaism

Readings: Scheindlin, 51-9 (top)
Question: What are the challenges faced by the Jewish community:
a) as a persecuted minority in Palestine?
b) as a minority in a foreign land (Alexandria, Babylonia)?
c) as an independent political entity in Palestine?

In class: read selections of the Mishnah (tractate Berakhot, chapters 1-4)and Talmud (Babylonian Talmud 26b). Read the selections of the Mishnah and Talmud. Identify two distinctive features (literary, content, treatment of texts, etc.) of each of these genres of Rabbinic literature. List at least two motives a society would have to produce documents such as these. We will also discuss how a Page of Talmud is constructed.

Thurs. Sept 15
Separating Cousins: Judaism and Early Christianity

Readings: Scheindlin, 59-64 (middle); Marcus, #20
Question: In what ways was early Christianity continuous with late Second Temple Judaism, and in what ways was it a break? (Because we will have a guest lecturer and I want you to do a special reading, I will not be collecting the homework, but you should use the question to take notes, as you will be responsible for this material on the exam. You should also complete the short reading assignment below and come prepared to discuss).

Special reading and preparation for guest lecturer:
Joseph Roth, The Wandering Jews (excerpts)
Question to prepare: We have recently discussed how the exiled Israelites had to adjust to living in Babylonia. This reading deals with a much later migration – that of Eastern European Jews who left their homes in the 19th and 20th centuries. What challenges did these Jewish migrants face and what strategies did they use to address them?

Tues., Sept. 20
Shifting Centers: From Byzantium to Babylonia

Readings: Scheindlin, 64-9; Marcus, #1; Genesis 17: 1-14
Questions:
1) What was the relationship between Jews and Christians a) when Christianity was another minority religion within the Roman Empire, and b) when it became the religion of the Roman Empire?
2) Cite three (3) ways Jewish life was different in Sassanid Babylonia than it was in Byzantine Palestine. How was the Jewish community in Babylonia different than any previous diaspora community?

Thurs., Sept. 22 (FIRST EXAM DISTRIBUTED)
The Jews of Islam

Readings: Scheindlin, 71-82 (bottom); Marcus, #3, #38
Question: Explain how the spread of Islam after the seventh century helped transform Jewish life politically, economically and religiously. Give at least one major change for each category.

CLICK HERE FOR A COPY OF EXAM #1

Tues., Sept. 27
In-class film: Jews and Muslims: Intimate Strangers (excerpt)

Thurs., Sept. 29 (FIRST EXAM DUE IN CLASS )
The Growing Jewish Diaspora
Readings: Marcus, #6; Barnavi, selections
Question: Under what circumstances does a new center of Jewish life emerge and break away from an older Jewish center?

Tues., Oct. 4 – NO CLASS, ROSH HA-SHANAH

Thurs., Oct. 6
Growing Religious Diversity: Rationalists and Mystics, Legalists and Pietists
Readings: Scheindlin, 82 (bottom)-95 and two sets of pages from Barnavi:
Set One and Set Two
Question: In the reading and in class we will be leaning about four (4) major religious tendencies in evidence among medieval Jewry: rationalism, mysticism, legalism and pietism. For each, describe one factor (historical, sociological, intellectual, political) which contributed to the growth of the tendency.

Tues., Oct. 11 – NO CLASS, FALL BREAK

Thurs., Oct. 13
The Formation of a Persecuting Society
Readings: Scheindlin, 97-112; Marcus, #23, #25, #27 and #29, Barnavi pages
Question: Christianity and Judaism had been in contact for almost 1,000 years when, in the late 11th century, anti-Jewish sentiment began to intensify. Describe at least three factors that combined to produce this trend.

Tues., Oct. 18 – NO CLASS, SUKKOT

Thurs., Oct. 20
Western European Expulsions and their Impact (SECOND EXAM DISTRIBUTED)
Readings: Scheindlin, 112-21; Marcus, #5, #11, Barnavi pages
Question: From a Christian perspective, give a reason why the expulsions were necessary. From an historian’s perspective, give a reason why the expulsions occurred. You should be country-specific.

CLICK HERE FOR A COPY OF EXAM #2

Tues., Oct. 25 – NO CLASS, SIMCHAT TORAH

Thurs., Oct. 27
Between East and West: Kabbalah, Messianism and Hasidism
Readings: Scheindlin, 123-37, 176-7, 180, sidebar on 182-3; Marcus, #53, #54, Barnavi pages
Question: We have studies Jewish migration earlier when we discussed the emerging centers of medieval Jewry. In most of those cases, the moves were voluntary. The migrations brought about in the late Middle Ages were motivated, in contrast, by persecution and expulsions. How might this difference affect the kind(s) of Jewish society they established in their new surroundings? Offer at least two (2) specific examples.
Question: Mysticism evolves in several ways at the end of the Middle Ages. Name the three major developments in Jewish mysticism from this period, and explain what larger historical factors influenced these developments.

Tues., Nov. 1
Harbingers of Change (SECOND EXAM DUE IN CLASS)
Readings: Scheindlin, 160 (middle)-71
Question: Identify one social and one intellectual change in the pre-modern period which allowed for an improvement in the status of the Jews in Western Europe. Explain how each change actually contributed to this improvement.

Thurs., Nov. 3
Jews and Gentiles in the Age of Emancipation
Readings: Reinharz/Mendes-Flohr (hereafter, JMW), documents on Napoleon and Assembly of Jewish Notables, 148-156.
Question: Napoleon asks a series of questions of the “Sanhedrin” about Jewish integration into the state. What concern(s) of the French government do you think underlie these questions? Be specific as to which questions reflect which concerns. In evaluating the answers the “Sanhedrin” gives, which ones seem straightforward and which ones seem to show the Jews struggling to respond? What is the source of this tension?

Tues., Nov. 8
The Rise of Modern Antisemitisms
Readings: JMW, 277-278, 283-284 (Fichte), 306-307 (Marr), 308 (Duehring), 317-319 (Stoecker), 339-342 (Protocols), 527-528 (Manhattan Beach)
Question: Give three (3) ways in which the types of modern antisemitism described in the readings are a continuation of medieval antisemitism and three (3) ways in which they are new and different.

Thurs., Nov. 10
Jews on the Move: Eastern Europe and America

Readings: Scheindlin, 180 (bottom)-81, 183 (bottom)-97
Question: How does the mass migration of Eastern European Jews to America between 1880 and 1924 stand out as different from all other Jewish migrations we have studied before? How did the United States, the countries of Western Europe and the countries of Eastern Europe provide three very different settings for Jewish life during the modern period? Give at least two examples for each area to support your conclusions.

Tues., Nov. 15
Sources of Modern Jewish Identity (1): Religious

Readings: JMW, 182 (Hamburg Temple), 211 (Chorin), 217-219 (Frankel), 220-224 (Hirsch), 521-522 (Pittsburgh Platform), 558-561 (Kaplan)
Question:What was the one quality or belief that most distinguished each of the modern Jewish religious movements (Reform, Conservative, Modern Orthodox and Reconstructionist). What was something all of these movements shared?

Thurs., Nov. 17
Sources of Modern Jewish Identity (2): Secular

Readings: Scheindlin, 217-33; JMW, 599-603 (Herzl), 606-608 (Ahad Ha-am)
Questions:
1) Both Herzl and Ahad Ha-am are considered founders of the Zionist movement, yet they had very different approaches to Jewish nationalism. Give at least three specific differences in their visions of a Jewish homeland and their plans for achieving it.
2) Aside from Zionism, give three examples of how secular Jewish identity was expressed in the years before World War II. Why did secular Jewishness flourish more in some geographic locations than others?

Tues., Nov. 22
The Holocaust
Readings: JMW, 717-719 (Hitler), 729-731 (Hitler and Nuremburg Laws), 751-754 (Wannsee Protocols)
Question: As we learned in the previous unit, the “persecuting society” of the Middle Ages and its forms of antisemitism were not in and of themselves sufficient to produce the expulsions of the 13th-15th centuries in Western Europe. Rather, a specific set of events and factors had to transpire for a country to decide to expel its Jews. In the same way, explain how a similar course of events transpired to produce the Holocaust of the Nazi era

Thurs., Nov. 24
NO CLASS – THANKSGIVING

Tues., Nov. 29
Modern Israel Since 1948
Readings: Scheindlin, 235-48; Barnavi, 242-5, 254-5, 258-61, 264-5
Question: Since 1948, Israel’s relationship with its Arab neighbors has been perhaps its greatest challenge. Yet Israel has also faced a number of difficult internal challenges during these years. Cite at least two (2) of these internal challenges, explaining how they arose and what difficulties they have presented.

Thurs., Dec. 1
Recent Trends in America and Israel

Readings: Scheindlin, 249-63; Barnavi, 270-71, 274-79
Question: From the readings (and if you have them, personal experiences), list two (2) major issues which are facing Jews in either/both the United States and Israel today. For each, explain what factors contribute to making these issues central, and whether you think they are similar or different to issues Jews have faced in the past. Be specific.

Tues., Dec. 6
Conclusion, review for exam
You will be filling out course evaluations, one for the class overall and one specifically for our TA, Matthew Brittingham. To complete the evaluation for Matthew, please visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TLHC3TL

FOR A COPY OF THE TAKE-HOME EXAM, CLICK HERE

FINAL EXAMS are due by Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 12 midnight. They should be sent electronically to Prof. Goldstein at
egoldst [at] emory [dot] edu. No extensions.