God tolerates genocide

Judaism - an eternal covenant with Yahweh

Judaism is the oldest of the three monotheistic world religions and the two younger ones, Christianity and Islam, refer in part to the Jewish religion. Its central content is the expectation of the Messiah and the belief in the covenant that the one God, Yahweh, made with the descendants of Abraham, as the Jews see themselves as.

The foundations of the Jewish religion go back to the 13th century BC. BC, as its main founder is considered to be Moses. But only in the 5th century BC It became the religion of the law. On the one hand, the laws are fixed in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament of Christians; the corresponding five books of Moses are called Torah. Further religious and civil law regulations, including the Sabbath and the feasts and holidays, marriage and ritual cleansing, are set out in writing in the Talmud (doctrine), which arose in the 5th century AD as the result of a long development .

Judaism is a living religion to this day; for the constantly new discussion and interpretation of the canonical scriptures by theologians and rabbis is part of the tradition. It also enabled various religious movements to emerge. In the 13th century, for example, the Jewish mysticism of Kabbalah developed in southern France and especially Spain, while in Central and Eastern Europe there was the development of Hasidism, a spiritual counter-movement to rabbinic dogmatism. Significant religious tendencies today are Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Judaism.

Although there has only been a Jewish state of Israel again since 1948, the Jews have lived scattered in the diaspora for around 2000 years, repeatedly suffered harassment, expulsions, persecution and finally the Holocaust, they have retained their identity as a people, united through the common religion in the belief in the one God and in the expectation of the Messiah.

The patriarchs: ancestors of Israel

What is meant by the patriarchal period?

The epoch, also known as the patriarchal period, includes the lifetimes of the nomadic heads of families Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as told in the first book of Moses.

At the beginning there is Abraham's procession - still under the leadership of his father Terach - from Ur in southern Mesopotamia to Haran in the north of Mesopotamia. There he received the call of God to move on to Canaan with his family. In addition, he, the childless man of old age, was promised rich offspring. In Canaan, God made the second great promise to Abraham: His descendants would receive this land. Since Sarah was childless and very old, she advised Abraham to beget offspring with her handmaid Hagar. This gave birth to Ishmael, from whom Islam will later be derived genealogically. Years later, old Sarah became pregnant and gave birth to Isaac.

How did God test Abraham's faith?

He ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac to him. At divine command he tied his son and obediently prepared his sacrifice. Only at the very last moment did God stop and, in a miraculous way, a ram appeared as a substitute sacrifice. Isaac later marries Rebekah, and after a long period of childlessness, twin sons Esau and Jakob were born as the couple's only children.

What Does the Bible Tell About the Brothers?

Jacob bought Esau's birthright for a lentil dish and later, through a trick and with the help of his mother Rebekah, tricked himself into the firstborn blessing of the old and blind father Isaac. Jacob then had to flee from his brother's anger and went to Mesopotamia, where he served his uncle Laban twice for seven years and waited for his great love Rachel, after his sister Leah had been given to him as a wife. Only after twenty years did Jakob move back home with his herds and large family. On the way he was challenged to a night fight with an angel on the river Jabbok and forced a blessing from him. He was given the new name "Israel", which means something like "fighters for God".

Jacob had twelve sons and one daughter out of four wives. His favorite son Joseph was sold to Egypt by his jealous brothers, where he made an unprecedented career at the court of Pharaoh. When Jakob later sent the brothers to Egypt during a famine to buy grain, Joseph, now viceroy, revealed himself, whereupon the brothers went to fetch the father: It was a heartbreaking reunion.

What is the role of the patriarch in Jewish mythology?

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bear a twofold divine promise: they were first prophesied that their offspring would increase, which would eventually form the people of Israel. The twelve tribes of Israel were born from the twelve sons of Jacob. They were also promised the land of Canaan, which they were to take permanently. The refugees from Egypt later derived the legitimation for the land grab from this. This relationship between God and the patriarchs found its particular expression in the covenant that Abraham made with God, the outward sign of which was circumcision, and which was later confirmed and strengthened in the story of the Exodus between Moses and God. The attempted sacrifice of Isaac is considered the test of Abraham's loyalty to God. As an intercessor, Abraham therefore has the right to ask God for grace for the Israelite violators of the law.

What kind of image of God did the patriarchs have?

The god of the patriarchs was a family leader who went with them on their nomadic wanderings and protected them from danger. The believers' relationship with their God was very personal and direct. Under Moses, the family became the tribal god Yahweh, who mostly established contact with his people through his mediator Moses. The nomadic desert god finally triumphed over the diversity of gods in the course of a centuries-long history of religious power struggles. The prophets ascribed to him the various attributes of the other gods, Yahweh became the kingdom god of Israel, but also the creator god and universal god for all peoples. But even as this, Yahweh was and is particularly close to his own, the chosen people, since he has promised the patriarchs to be with them and their descendants.

Did you know that …

Jacob is considered the most outstanding of the patriarchs? He comes just after the angels in the biblical hierarchy and is considered the ideal of virtue and truthfulness. That is why his moral misconduct, such as the fraudulent exploitation of the birthright and the paternal blessing, is irrelevant.

the arrival in the Promised Land did not mean the end of nomadism? For a long time Abraham wandered about Canaan with his wife Sarah and the flocks.

What historical references can be proven for the patriarchs?

The patriarchs themselves cannot be grasped historically, but the context of their stories. The migration from Ur to Haran must be historical, as there is evidence that Western Semitic tribes Ur around 2000 BC. Chr. Destroyed. The passage through the Mesopotamian cultural centers such as Babylon and Mari is confirmed by the great Mesopotamian influence on the Torah, especially in the area of ​​legal regulations. Archaeological and historical sources show that Canaan was there from around 2000 BC onwards. Semitic nomads immigrated from Mesopotamia. Only around the 12th century BC They united with other immigrant groups, the so-called Aramaic movement and the Exodus group, which immigrated from Egypt, to form the people of Israel.

The Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt: Exodus through the Red Sea

Did Moses, the founder of the religion, really exist?

That cannot be proven. One can assume, however, that the oldest traditions of Moses, which go back to the books of Exodus and Numbers of the Hebrew Bible, are based on a true core. These books deal with the oppression of some of the later Israelites in Egypt. The rescue on the Red Sea is probably the center of the story. In the course of its tradition, it was transformed in such a way that the essential components of the Jewish faith could be confirmed and justified through it.

What role did the Exodus play in the Jewish religion?

It symbolizes the liberation of the people of Israel. According to Jewish tradition, God instructed the Jews through Moses how to prepare for the exodus from their captivity in Egypt. You should celebrate a festival with unleavened bread and in travel clothes. They were supposed to smear the doorposts with the blood of a lamb to avoid plagues. To commemorate this departure, the Jews celebrate the Passover every year.

The Israelites left Egypt for Sinai, but Pharaoh let his army persecute them. On the shores of the Red Sea, which was preventing the Israelites from fleeing, Moses, at God's command, stretched his staff over the water and the sea parted. The Israelites went to freedom with dry feet, while behind them the Pharaoh and his army were swallowed up by the re-closing floods.

What position was given to Moses in this process?

Moses was a kind of mediator between the people of Israel and God. He was instructed by God to reveal him as the only God to the Israelites. Moses proclaimed God's will, gave them the Ten Commandments of God, which he himself had received from him on Mount Sinai by a beam of fire carved in stone, and tried to enforce their observance. But Moses also acted as an advocate for the people.

What does the story of the "Golden Calf" stand for?

In their urge to worship a figurative figure, the Israelites created a golden calf that they worshiped as their god. Only through Moses' intercession could the angry God be persuaded to pay a punishment that was less severe than that originally intended.

This episode of the Golden Calf is characteristic of the relationship between Yahweh and the Israelites. Despite their human weaknesses and inadequacies, God always held fast to his chosen people, with whom he had made an eternal covenant through Moses. However, he repeatedly imposed severe trials on his people. This basic religious motif governed the entire tradition of Jewish culture.

Its special position, its chosenness among the peoples, gave the people of Israel unlimited confidence, but also promised them immense suffering. As a punishment for its blasphemy, it had to wander through the desert under the leadership of Moses for another 40 years before it could reach the "promised" land on the Jordan that God had promised.

When did the five books of Moses come to be written?

In the 5th century BC This is interesting in that the historical events that form the core of the narrative were probably well before the 10th century BC. Have taken place. It was not until several centuries later, at the time of the Babylonian exile, that an account of the life and deeds of the great prophet was written.

The reason is probably to be found in the fact that the priesthood at the time needed an authority to which it could refer for the reforms it was striving for. The Pentateuch, the five biblical books of Moses, sees in him the outstanding prophet of Yahweh, who played a mediator role between God and the Israelites. By attributing the new commandments and rules to be introduced to Moses, it could be said that they came directly from God.

Historically, the extreme monotheism of the Jewish religion and strict religious laws did not emerge until the 5th century in response to the Babylonian captivity. A possibly historical Moses, who acted as legislator and judge and to whom the religious legislation is ascribed, certainly did not establish the Jewish faith to this extent.

Did you know that …

the pronunciation of the name "Yahweh" is completely forbidden for believing Jews? That is why other, circumscribing names of God are used, such as "Adonai" ("Lord") or "Elohim" ("Gods").

the Hebrew script, like the other Semitic languages, originally had no vowels? So the name of God, YHVH, allows different vocalizations. The one with the vowels from "Adonai" was read as "Jehovah" by non-Jews.

Did Moses see the success of his mission?

No. Although Moses received the Lord's commission and carried it out, he himself was not to live to see the arrival of his people in the Promised Land.

“And the Lord said to him, This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and said, I will give it to your seed. You saw it with your eyes; but you are not to go over. "(Deut. 34, 4)

Shortly before reaching the desired destination, within sight of the Jordan, Moses died.

"And from then on there arose no prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord had known face to face" (Deut. 34, 10)

The Torah: Code of Law and World History

What does the term "Torah" refer to?

The five books of Moses are called "Torah" in Judaism. They form the first part of the Hebrew Bible and are the basis of the Jewish religion, since according to tradition they were written by Moses and contain the revealed word of God from Sinai.

The Hebrew term "Torah" means something like "instruction" or "teaching". In a broader sense, this means all of God's revelations that Moses received on Sinai. On the one hand they form the "written Torah", the Pentateuch, better known as the five books of Moses, on the other hand the "oral Torah".

The latter was not written down until much later, when the commandments of the written Torah needed to be updated. After the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, the cult situation for Judaism had fundamentally changed and it now needed an adjustment. That is why the Mishnah was written in the 2nd and 3rd centuries as a record of what was once oral tradition and was discussed extensively by rabbis in the following centuries - in the Gemara. Mishnah and Gemara form the Talmud.

What do the five books of Moses tell?

They contain a representation of the creation of the world, the stories of the patriarchs, the stay in and the dramatic escape from Egypt as well as the desert wandering, the legislation on Sinai and the further life of Moses. Extensive legal texts can be found again and again between these parts.

The purpose of the Torah is the knowledge of the divine will and its realization in daily life. The Torah gives structure, security and orientation to everyday life. Through the covenant that God made with them, the people of Israel have committed themselves to live the Torah, that is, to keep the do's and don'ts contained therein. The goal of this path is the redemption of Israel and the rest of humanity and thus the establishment of God's rule on earth.

Who really wrote the Torah?

According to Jewish as well as early Christian tradition, Moses (13th century BC) is said to have been the author of the five books, but there were doubts about this conception even in ancient times. During the Enlightenment, modern biblical scholarship finally refuted the authorship of Moses.

Since the 19th century there has been a scientific consensus that the Pentateuch is based on four sources: The oldest is the so-called Yahwist, whose texts around the 10th century BC. At the court of King Solomon, then the Elohist follows with a date around the 9th century BC. The Deuteronomy (5th book of Moses) was in the 7th century BC. And finally the priestly script was written. This latest source writing of the Pentateuch was published in the 6th century BC. Written in exile in Babylon. At this time, the four different sources were probably linked together for editorial purposes.

What is the function of the Torah in the Jewish rite?

The Torah is the focus of the service in the synagogue. It consists of several sheets of parchment that are written on by hand, sewn together and rolled onto two wooden sticks. It is read from it three times a week, with the entire text read out section by section within a year in 54 weekly sections. Reform Judaism has a three-year reading cycle. The reading days are Saturday, Monday and Thursday.

The men of the community take turns taking part in the Thoralesung, the only requirement is that one minjan, that is, a group of ten Jewish men, is fully present. After the congregation has risen, the Torah shrine is solemnly opened and the Torah scroll "dug up". It is opened on the lectern, then three to seven men are called, depending on the rank of the holiday. In large congregations, the men do not read the text themselves, but only give a special blessing before and after the cantor's reading. This is followed by the solemn "lifting" of the scroll into the Torah shrine.

Did you know that …

the division of the days on which the Torah is read goes back to the times of the prophet Ezra? After returning from exile in Babylon, he had the Torah read in public on the three market days in Jerusalem.

Is the authorship of Moses upheld in Jewish Orthodox circles to this day?

Critical voices against the dating of the individual sources have recently been rising again? Some researchers even question the hypothesis from the four different sources as a whole.

Why is the Torah so richly decorated?

Because one hopes to get closer to the divine this way. The Torah shrine is usually lavishly decorated. An embroidered curtain almost always hangs in front of its doors, reminiscent of the curtain in the Jerusalem temple. The Torah itself often shines in splendid ornamentation. The thoracic crown has been attested since the 12th century. The Torah mantle is usually found in Ashkenazi (European) communities, while oriental communities keep the scrolls in a housing. The Thorafinger is usually made of silver and serves as a pointer when reading so as not to desecrate the sacred text with profane human fingers.

Feasts: Remembrance days of the salvation history of the people of Israel

What is the Shabbat?

This is the weekly day of rest, which is supposed to remind of the creation when God declared the seventh day to be the day of rest after six exhausting days. On Friday evening the Shabbat is welcomed in the synagogue, the outward sign of this is the kiddush, the blessing over the wine. The welcoming ceremony continues in the domestic setting. After the parents have blessed the children, the father speaks the blessing again over the wine, blesses the braided Shabbat bread and opens the feast. The next morning the synagogue service with a reading from the Torah is on the program. In the evening, the Shabbat ends with a solemn ceremony.

How is the New Year celebrated?

The "head" or "beginning of the year", that is the name of the New Year festival Rosh Hashanah, takes place on the first and second days of the month of Tishri in autumn. It begins with the blowing of the shofar, a ram's horn, which is supposed to commemorate the attempted sacrifice of Isaac. The sound of the shofar calls the believers to self-examination. Tradition says that on Rosh Hashanah three books would be opened: the book of life for the righteous, the book of death for the wicked, and the book for the mediocre. In the ten days of penance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur everyone has the opportunity to turn their fate around.

Which is the highest Jewish holiday?

The Feast of Atonement, Yom Kippur. Pious Jews spend this strict day of fast on the 10th of Tishri, the last of the ten days of penance, in the synagogue. They wear white mourning clothing to commemorate the dead and lay their "earthly" power at the feet of the Creator God. One asks for forgiveness of the sins that one has committed against God, other people and also oneself. Through the Kol Nidre prayer the imperfect person is released from vows to God. At the end of Yom Kippur, the shofar is blown again and the fast is ended.

What does the Feast of Tabernacles, Sukkot, refer to?

The festival of Sukkot, which begins five days after Yom Kippur, commemorates the 40 years of wandering after fleeing Egypt, when the refugees lived in makeshift huts. A hut is built from boards with palm leaves or vine leaves as a cover. All meals are consumed there for a week. The last day of Sukkot is Simchat Torah, the festival of the joy of the Torah, on which Torah scrolls are solemnly carried around the lectern in the synagogue and the annual cycle of the Torah reading ends.

Why is the Festival of Lights celebrated?

The eight days of the festival of lights Hanukkah commemorate the rededication of the second temple in 164 BC. By the Maccabees after a period of desecration and pagan infiltration by the Seleucids. The daily lighting of an additional light on the eight-armed candlestick (chanukkia) is reminiscent of the miracle of light when, after the liberation from the occupiers, a tiny residue of consecrated oil made the temple chandelier shine for eight days until new oil could be consecrated.

What happens on Purim?

The Purim Los Festival, which is celebrated on two days at the end of winter, is similar to the European carnival. The children, but also many adults, are disguised, party lively and loudly with rattles and the alcohol flows freely. Purim is based on the events of the Book of Esther: A Planned Persecution of the Jews in Persia in the 5th Century BC. Could be thwarted by the Jewess Esther.

What should the Passover festival remember?

On the 14th of Nissan, at the time of the first full moon of spring, the week-long Passover festival begins, which is supposed to commemorate the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. The highlight is the Seder evening, when the family is gathered around a large table. The head of the family reads from the Haggadah, which tells the story of the Exodus in a popular way. In addition to a feast, various ritual dishes are consumed. For example, the unleavened bread is intended to remind people that when leaving Egypt in a hurry, there was no more time to leaven the bread.

What is the name of the Jewish harvest festival?

It is the Shavuot festival. The name Wochenfest is derived from the seven-week interval between the beginning of the Passover festival. Shavuot also recalls the divine revelation on Sinai, when the Israelite people received the Torah. Devout Jews spend the whole night of the festival studying the Torah. The morning service in the synagogue focuses on reading the ten commandments.

Did you know that …

On Shabbat religious Jews "work" like lighting a fire, which today includes driving a car and turning on lights, are forbidden?

the creation of the world is the beginning of the Jewish calendar? It starts in the year 3761 before the Christian era.

The Story of the Chosen People: From Moses to the Diaspora

Why do the Jews call themselves the "chosen people"?

Because they developed a kind of national consciousness early on and were sure of the assistance of their God. As the only monotheistic religious community, the Israelites separated themselves sharply from their surroundings. They developed a completely independent culture and at times built up a regional hegemonic power. In this way they created the basis for a cultural flowering.

After the death of Moses, the Israelites immigrated to Canaan under the leadership of Joshua. As a result, they had to endure numerous battles in which - according to their religious beliefs - God stood by their side. The case of Jerichos is best known. During the siege of this well-fortified city by the Israelite tribes, God caused the walls to collapse at the sound of a trumpet.

What was the history of the Israeli Empire like?

Many arguments with their neighbors shaped early Jewish history. The fight against the Philistines has become famous, especially the story of David who killed Goliath, a giant and strongest warrior of the Philistines, with a shepherd's sling. David later succeeded Saul as king and expanded the borders of the kingdom of Israel. He conquered Jerusalem and made the city the center of his empire.

David's son Solomon built the great temple there in which the ark of the covenant was kept. According to tradition, it contained the arum and the stone tablets with the ten commandments. The result was a central sanctuary that was the linchpin of Judaism until its second destruction in AD 70. Solomon presumably had extensive diplomatic relations and became the epitome of a wise ruler. The Israelites had become a regional hegemonic power. After Solomon's death in 926 BC The empire split up into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah.

How was this empire destroyed?

By Assyrians and Babylonians. After a brief period of economic and cultural prosperity in the kingdoms, Israel suffered greatly from the emergence of other oriental empires. The Assyrians conquered around 730 BC. The northern kingdom of Israel and kidnapped many of its inhabitants as a result. In 597 BC. the Babylonians conquered Judah under their king Nebuchadnezzar. In retaliation for an unsuccessful uprising, in 586 B.C.E. Jerusalem and the temple destroyed and large parts of the Jewish ruling class deported to Babylon. The Babylonian captivity represented a difficult challenge. With the temple, Judaism had lost its cultic center, the Jewish people were without a home.

How did the Babylonian captivity end?

With a lost war of the Babylonians. 539 BC They were subject to the expanding Persian Empire under Cyrus II. Cyrus freed the enslaved Jews and granted them religious freedom. The Jews could feel confirmed in their conviction that they were God's chosen people. With the inauguration of the second temple in 516 BC The Babylonian exile is considered to have ended. From then on the Jewish high priest ruled the province of Judah. After the submission of Persia in 331 BC. In BC Judea became a province in the kingdom of Alexander the Great. The Pentateuch, the five books of Moses, was translated into Greek.

How did the different interpretations of the Scriptures come about?

Already at the beginning of the 2nd century BC The Jews were exposed to massive persecution by the Seleucids, who wanted to enforce their Greek state cult as an integrating measure in their vast area of ​​power.

168 BC The Jewish faith was declared illegal and the temple in Jerusalem was dedicated to Zeus. Two years later, a revolt among the priest Judas Maccabeus and his sons brought freedom from the occupation. They made themselves kings of the independent Jewish state and founded the Maccabees or Hasmoneans dynasty. During this time, Judaism tried to cleanse itself of foreign influences.

Various schools of thought related to the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures emerged. The best known were those of the Sadducees, those of the Pharisees, and those of the Essenes. The Sadducees only recognized the written Torah as binding, but not its interpretation by the scribes and the further development of the Jewish purity laws. They rejected belief in the resurrection of the dead and excluded immortality of the soul, as well as the existence of angels and spirits. The Pharisees, on the other hand, hoped for the completion of history by fulfilling the Torah, so they emphasized the observance of the commandments formulated there and expanded them to include an "oral" Torah called the Mishnah. The preservation of ritual purity was also of central importance to them. Finally, the Essenes expected the apocalyptic end of the world and the dawn of the rule of God in their ascetic monastic community.

How did the Jews fare as Roman subjects?

They came to terms with those in power. In the course of the Roman expansion in the Mediterranean area, the Maccabees came under the influence of the new world empire. The political power of the Jews declined; they allied themselves with Pompey and became a province of the Roman Empire. 37 BC Herod became the great procurator of the province.

Herod himself was not a Jew, but secured the support of the priesthood and left them unmolested. It wasn't popular, but it kept peace and prosperity going. The Jews were given a certain autonomy as long as they tolerated Roman rule and did not revolt against it.

Then why did the uprising take place?

Because the Jews, politically impotent, developed ever stronger religious fervor. Their religious laws repeatedly led to conflicts with the Roman occupation.

The standards of the Roman troops and especially the statues of the emperor ran counter to the strict ban on images of the Ten Commandments and deeply embittered the Orthodox Jews. A bitter confrontation broke out under Emperor Caligula in AD 39 and 40, during which the resistance of the Jewish population remained non-violent. The leaders of the Jews marched against the advancing legions, determined to let themselves be slaughtered by them rather than accept the religious shame of the erection of the imperial statue. Due to the prudence of the Roman commander and the imminent death of Caligula, the worst was not done. Claudius, the new emperor, converted the province of Judea back into an autonomous kingdom, which he entrusted to his friend Herod Agrippa.

Then under Emperor Nero there was an armed uprising of the Jews. With great bitterness they fought, using all means against the legions of the general Vespasian. His son Titus continued the Jewish war, finally conquered Jerusalem, destroyed the fortress Antonia in Jerusalem and had the temple integrated into the fortress, the central shrine of the Jews, razed. This ended the uprising, which came to a standstill with the fall of the Masada Fort on the Dead Sea and the suicide of the last defenders.

What happened after the unsuccessful uprising?

Now the time of the diaspora began. The Jews were scattered all over the Roman Empire and the Orient. But there was still intact Jewish life in Palestine, even if the religious centers were destroyed. In 132 the Bar Kochba uprising started a new revolt that wanted to establish a Jewish state of its own based on the model of the Maccabees. The Romans fought back brutally. After Hadrian finally put down the revolt in 135, Jewish life in the Promised Land was extinguished. The Romans removed the top of the Temple Mount and literally razed Jerusalem to the ground. Thousands of Jews were enslaved and deported. Most of the rest fled the devastated area.

The diaspora, the dispersal of Jews all over the world, had begun. The history of European Jewry began. After the destruction of the temple, other contents of religion had to fill this cultic vacuum. Sacrifice and priesthood were obliterated. Since then the rabbi has not exercised a priesthood as head of the Jewish community, but interprets the law as a legal scholar. Outward signs of Judaism such as circumcision and keeping the Sabbath, along with the food and purity laws, helped set the Jews apart from their neighbors.

How did Jewish history go up to the Babylonian exile?

13th century BC Chr .: Exodus from Egypt under Moses; Land conquest under Joshua

1180-1004 BC Chr .: Time of the Judges (elected tribal chiefs)

1004-965 BC Chr .: King David

965-926 BC Chr .: King Solomon

926 BC Chr .: Division of the kingdom into Judah and Israel

722 BC Chr .: The northern kingdom of Israel falls to Assyria; Time of the prophets Hosea and Isaiah

586 BC Chr .: The southern kingdom of Judah falls to Babylon; first destruction of the temple

586-536 BC Chr .: Kidnapping of the upper classes into Babylonian exile; Work of the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel

Did you know that …

the twelve tribes of Israel actually formed different small empires in the beginning?

essential parts of the Torah date from the time of exile? The scribes adapted to the new situation and replaced the former political unit with a religious one. The so-called second creation account formulated an explicit opposition to the ideas of God of the oriental cultures and thus helped to preserve the Jewish identity.

What was Jewish history like after the Baylon exile?

516 BC Chr .: Dedication of the second temple; Time of the last prophets Haggaj, Malachias and Zechariah

175 BC Chr .: Persecution under Antiochus IV and the Seleucids

166 BC Chr .: Maccabees Revolt; Hasmonean rule and beginning of rabbinical scholarship

63 BC Chr .: Judea under Roman rule

63-70 AD: Revolt against Rome; Destruction of the second temple

AD 70-135: Academy in Jaune; Patriarchal constitution; Enforcement of the Pharisees in rabbinic Judaism

A.D. 132–135: Bar Kochba uprising

135-390 AD: Oral Tradition Collection; Editing of the Mishnah (about 200 under Rabbi Jehuda), the Jerusalem Talmud (about 390); Babylonia becomes the center of rabbinical literacy

around 500 AD: Editing of the Babylonian Talmud

Did you know that …

Jews were forbidden from entering Jerusalem for many years after the Bar Kochba uprising?

the need to hold the service, centered on the reading of the Torah, with ten adult men, forcing the Jews of the Diaspora to organize themselves into congregations? This in turn guaranteed that the unity of Jewish culture was preserved.

Jews in the Islamic World: Bearers of Culture as Second Class Citizens

What about the persecution of the Jews in Islamic areas?

It was mainly practiced shortly after the emergence of Islam. In all Islamic countries, Jewish communities existed long before that. When Mohammed founded the new monotheistic religion, he and his followers tried to convince the Jews and Christians of Arabia that Islam was the completion of their old religions. When the hoped-for conversions failed to materialize, the Jews and Christians were persecuted bloody. Only with the victorious expansion of Islam, which stretched from Pakistan to the Pyrenees, did the religious intolerance of Muslims decrease significantly.In many cases, the Islamic conquerors were even greeted with joy by the Jews, because they now expected an end to Persian, Byzantine and Visigoth oppression.

What made peaceful coexistence possible?

The legal position of Jews and Christians in Islamic countries was regulated in the Dhimma Treaty. The "dhimmi" were granted freedom of religion and worship, autonomy in community affairs and the free exercise of their profession. However, they had to pay a special tax for these rights and observe certain dress codes. They were forbidden from building new synagogues, carrying weapons and riding on horses.

The dhimma made the Jews second class citizens. In everyday life, however, peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Jews was possible. Although there were no restrictions on career choices, Jews often chose those occupations that were forbidden for Muslims. Leather processing, wine production and sales as well as the preoccupation with precious metals became Jewish domains. Professions that were unpopular among Muslims because they came into contact with unbelievers too often, such as diplomacy, trade and finance, also became Jewish. Often the Jews lived in their own quarters, mostly voluntarily and for religious reasons, as in the Juderías in Spain.

What change did the Islamic conquest of Babylonia bring?

After the conquest, the situation of the Jews oppressed under Persian rule improved significantly. The caliph granted them the greatest possible freedom because he wanted stable conditions. With the exile, they chose their own political leader. The rectors of the Jewish academies were considered to be the highest authority in matters of justice and legislation and were recognized by the entire Jewish diaspora.

How did Cordoba become the spiritual center of Judaism?

From the 8th century, the Iberian Peninsula was ruled by the Umayyads. Many Jews lived under the Caliphate of Cordoba. They founded a new scholarly center and in the 11th century Babylonia was finally replaced by Spain as the previous great spiritual center of the Jewish diaspora. In addition to the Jewish scholars of religion, Jewish writers and philosophers also worked here. Of great importance are the translations of the works of Greek philosophers and thinkers, which the Byzantine Church had banned as pagan and which have now been translated into Arabic through Jewish-Arab cooperation. Contacts with Jews in Christian Europe led to a further translation into Hebrew and Latin and thus to a new approach of medieval Europe to Greek antiquity.

In the 12th century, however, the tolerance of Jewish-Arab coexistence in Spain ended. Fanatical Arab tribes persecuted the Jews, so that some preferred to emigrate to the Christian part of Spain or to Morocco. In Fez, Moroccan, a new scholarly center soon formed, which eventually replaced Jewish Spain as the spiritual center of the diaspora.

What changed for the Jewish population after the Reconquista?

After the fight against Islam, the focus was now on the Jews. The Christian Reconquista began in Spain in the 12th century and ended in 1492 with the conquest of Granada. The persecution and expulsion of Muslims was the model for the treatment of the country's Jewish residents. Most Jews preferred to flee to Christianity, and the growing Ottoman Empire was a great attraction for the Sephardic Jews of the Iberian Peninsula. The tolerance towards the minorities was never great, the restrictions of the dhimma were handled laxly. Many Jews therefore moved to Constantinople, Salonika and other coastal cities, but also to Palestine, which had become Ottoman since the beginning of the 16th century. The small town of Safed in Galilee developed into the new center of Judaism in the Islamic world. Kabbalistic mysticism in particular flourished here.

Why did the Jewish scholar Maimonides have to emigrate again and again?

To avoid persecution. The life of the great Jewish scholar from Cordoba is typical of the relationship between Islam and Judaism in the Middle Ages. As a child, Maimonides (1135–1204) fled with his family from the fanatical Islamic tribe of the Almohads from Córdoba to Christian, at that time still tolerant, northern Spain. As a young man he was drawn to the places of learning in Fez, Morocco, but soon emigrated to Egypt via Palestine. There he became a personal physician at the Sultan's court in Fustat and gained political influence. His religious-philosophical works and the systematization of the Jewish legal goods from the Talmud are famous to this day.

Did you know that …

the Jews in Spain adapted the architectural style of their religious centers to the Arab taste and integrated Moorish elements into their buildings?

Maimonides was also attacked by Jewish scholars because of his adaptation of ancient philosophers?

in Cordoba since the Reconquista only one of the original 300 synagogues can be visited?

The Jews in the Middle Ages: Between Tolerance and Persecution

When did the Jews come to Europe?

In the wake of the Romans, Jews came very early to the areas of the former Roman Empire and thus also to Central and Western Europe. They settled on the great rivers and on the coasts, where the important trade routes have always been. Marseille, Lyon, Orléans, Tours and Nantes in France as well as Cologne, Speyer, Worms and Mainz developed into important Jewish centers.

The Frankish king and Roman emperor Charlemagne granted the Jews extensive protection privileges around the year 800. In return was the Jewish tax. This royal or imperial protection status was renewed by some of his successors, but in some cases the emperors also sold the Jews to secular or ecclesiastical princes, who then collected the Jewish tax, but no longer did much to protect their Jewish subjects.

What was the significance of Jewish cultural life on the Rhine?

The cultural Jewish life on the Rhine soon reached a high level. Rabbi Gerschom from Mainz became famous around the year 1000, who abolished polygamy and divorce without the consent of the woman. He also introduced educational institutions for girls. In contrast to the Christian population, the general level of education was very high here, and every child learned to read. The Jewish scholars on the Rhine soon had such authority that they for a time replaced the academies in Babylonia as the supreme authority of Judaism. Rabbi Schlomo Ben Isaak (Raschi) from Troyes, who had studied in Worms and Mainz and later founded a famous Talmud university, was highly regarded. His commentaries can still be found today on every page of the Talmud.

What restrictions were there for the Jews?

The imperial protection usually did little to help the Jews against the strong Christian rejection. The Lateran Council of 1215 renewed and tightened the old Byzantine laws. Coexistence between Jews and Christians was strictly forbidden and the Jews were required to be labeled. They were not allowed to hold any public office or employ Christian employees. Most professions were denied to them. Crafts, which had formed Christian guilds, were no longer accessible to Jews, as was agriculture with its Christian feudal oath. In addition to trading, they only had the interest business, which was forbidden to Christians.

What was the persecution of Christians like?

From the 11th to the 14th centuries, the Jewish communities had to endure bloody pogroms in waves. At the end of the 11th century the crusaders took up the fight against the "infidels" in their own country. On the way to Palestine, they plundered and devastated the wealthy Jewish communities. From the 12th century, the charge of ritual murder emerged. The rumor accused Jews of killing Christian children for their rites. Emperor Friedrich II acquitted the Jews in 1236, but the rumor persisted and reappeared whenever the opportunity arose. In the 14th century, large parts of the European population fell victim to the plague and the Jewish communities were accused of poisoning the wells.

How did the evictions come about?

In England, the Jewish population was expelled as early as the 13th century because there was no longer any need for them economically. There were five public evictions in France between the 12th and 14th centuries. The Jews were never completely expelled from Germany, but they had to leave the cities in the 14th and 15th centuries. The ban on interest for Christians was first relaxed, then finally lifted, thus depriving the Jews of their livelihood. They were no longer needed and were sold. Many settled in the country and lived as peddlers or cattle dealers, others moved to Italy or the tolerant Ottoman Empire. The majority of German Jews, however, emigrated to Poland and Lithuania, where a new Jewish center emerged from the 15th century.

What role did the church play in the persecution?

The church played a major role in the intolerance of the Jews and their persecution in the Middle Ages. The church leaders hardly called for pogroms, but the clergy preached the guilt of the Jews for the death of Christ and repeatedly emphasized the successful overcoming of Judaism by Christianity. The symbol for this is the allegorical pair of figures Ecclesia and synagogue in Christian art. It is often found in sacred cabaret, but most conspicuously as a church monumental sculpture, for example in Bamberg Cathedral or on Strasbourg Cathedral. The two female figures symbolize the victorious church, Ecclesia, with crown and scepter as well as misguided Judaism, synagogue, often with blindfolded eyes and a broken staff. How should a simple Christian think differently about the Jews when the clergy made anti-Judaism so clearly expressed?

Did you know that …

France in 1361, when it needed a ransom to buy King John the Good out of English captivity, and brought the Jews back into the country?

the Jews were also accused of desecrating hosts?

the Archbishop of Mainz, who offered refuge to Jews in his residence during the crusade in 1096, was murdered with them?

Jewish Mysticism: Transcendent Experiences with Kabbalah

What forms of Jewish mysticism were there?

Esoteric movements have existed in Judaism since the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem in the 1st century AD. Many of the ideas developed in the centuries that followed reappeared in two mystical European movements in the 12th century. The movement of the Haside Ashkenaz, the "pious Germany", developed as a result of the pogroms during the Crusades, but disappeared again in the 13th century.

The Kabbalah (Hebrew "tradition"), on the other hand, which began in Provence, developed into the mainstream of Jewish mysticism that still exists today. It was initially a reaction to rationalism in the Jewish upper class. In Spain it experienced its further development; Gerona in Catalonia became an important center for Kabbalists. Her most important basic work, the Book of Zohar (Hebrew: "Book of Shine") by Moses de Leon, was written in the 13th century. The Kabbalists differed from their rationally thinking Jewish counterparts in that they hoped for a mystical union with God, as opposed to a rational knowledge of God, as represented, for example, by the great Jewish religious philosopher Maimonides.

What Does the Book of Zohar Teach?

In the Zohar there is the teaching of the ten Sefiroth. These are divine forces that God sends out from the hereafter and with which he determines everything that happens in the spiritual intermediate stages and in the material world. In addition, the Torah is described as a living organism, the precise study of which with the help of numerical mysticism and the interpretation of letters serves the mystical approach to God. But not only study of the Torah, but also contemplation and prayer can elevate man to the divine. With the doctrine of evil as the powerful other side of the good, the Book of Zohar conveys a dualistic worldview.

How did Kabbalah develop?

After the expulsion from Spain in 1492, many Kabbalists settled in the small town of Safed in the Galilee Mountains. Moses ben Josef Cordovero systematized the older Spanish Kabbalah anew. His most famous student, Isaac Luria, developed a new method for understanding the secrets of the Zohar. His compact and easily understandable literary work was only written down by his student Chaijm Vital. Isaac Luria increasingly brought the messianic thought into his kabbalistic system. He described the possibility of liberating the scattered divine sparks of light from matter through purification and the fulfillment of the Torah. In this way the beginning of the messianic age should be brought about. The Lurian Kabbalah significantly influenced a Jew from Smyrna (now Izmir) named Sabbatai Zwi.

Who was Sabbatai Zwi?

He tried to pretend to be the Messiah. The Ashkenazi Jew Sabbatai Zwi, born in 1626, was familiar with Talmudic and Kabbalistic literature. He worshiped the Lurian Kabbalah with its messianic expectations. The Chmielnicki pogroms, which claimed around 100,000 Jewish victims in Poland in the course of the uprising of the Ukrainian Cossacks in 1648, Sabbatai Zwi regarded as the birth pangs of the Messiah. On his extensive travels he met the Kabbalist Natan Benjamin ha-Levi from Gaza, who convinced him that he was the Messiah.

In 1665, Sabbatai Zwi was proclaimed Messiah, and in February 1666 he was arrested by the Turkish authorities. His reputation spread throughout the entire Jewish diaspora, celebrations were celebrated everywhere, pilgrims went to his prison. However, the Polish Kabbalist Nehemia Kohen was not convinced of Zwi's role as the Messiah and denounced him to the Turkish authorities. They presented him with a choice: execution or conversion to Islam. On September 15, 1666, the catastrophe for the followers of Sabbatai Zwi and for the entire Kabbalistic movement occurred: the "Jewish Messiah" converted to Islam.

What were the consequences of Sabbatai Zwi's conversion to Islam?

The Kabbalah initially lost many followers. However, Jewish mysticism revived in Hasidism in a new form from the 18th century. In the modern era, the Kabbalah was finally able to gain a foothold again. General mystical-religious currents, but also Gerschom Scholem's research, contributed to this. In Israel today, studying Kabbalah has also become popular among secular Jews.

What is the significance of Kabbalah today?

It is still regarded by its followers as the key to world knowledge. In contrast to the scientific study of Kabbalah, the Kabbalists today still insist that their main work, The Zohar, was written by Rabbi Shimon Bar Jochai not until the Middle Ages in Spain, but in the 2nd century AD. The Kabbalah also serves to explain modern phenomena such as wars, drug addiction, atomic destruction and technology. Only through the Kabbalah can the laws of the universe be explained and thus also the problems of the world overcome. The Kabbalists consider the Torah to be comparable to a human being: The Five Books of Moses are the outer part, corresponding to the body, the Kabbalah, the inner Torah, is the mystical part, corresponding to the soul.

Did you know that …

the Christian alchemist Christian Knorr von Rosenroth translated the book Sohar under the title "Cabbala denudata" (2 volumes, 1677 to 1684) into Latin?

Kabbalistic teachings were also taken up again in esoteric theosophy at the end of the 19th century?

The fantastic literature of the early modern period was repeatedly inspired by elements of Kabbalah?

Madonna became a follower of Kabbalah in the late 1990s and even wrote children's books on the subject?

The Jewish Enlightenment: On the Way to Modernity

How did the Jewish Enlightenment come about?

The roots of this lie in the time after the Thirty Years' War, when the political system of absolutism and new mercantile economic practices prevailed in Germany, which was split up into many small principalities. The princes realized that the Jews could be useful to them and allowed some of them to move in. In this context, the small elite of the often very wealthy "court Jews" arose. Politically, however, they were powerless and were subject to the oppressive Jewish legislation. Intellectual and wealthy Jews adapted their lifestyles to the German upper class. They tried to achieve a symbiosis of traditional Judaism and German culture.

What were the goals?

The Jewish Enlightenment or Haskala, whose main exponent was the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, called for an end to the social and cultural isolation of the Jews through their integration into society.However, no abandonment of traditional Judaism was allowed, the price was too high for Mendelssohn. Many of Mendelssohn's students disagreed; for them integration also meant a break with Jewish tradition, which led to the emergence of the Jewish reform movement.

How did the Jews in Germany emancipate themselves?

In France, with the revolutionary legislation of 1791, Jews became citizens with equal rights overnight. In Germany, however, the emancipation of the Jews lasted until the establishment of the German Empire in 1871. Prussia issued an emancipation edict in 1812 that finally granted the Jews civil rights, but still excluded them from public office. The Congress of Vienna and the subsequent period of reaction, when some of these laws were reversed, brought setbacks. Many young Jews emigrated to America because of this, while others converted to Christianity because they saw it as the only possibility for social advancement. It was not until 1871, after further liberalization and renewed setbacks, that the equality of Jews became imperial law.

What echo did the Jewish Enlightenment find in Eastern Europe?

Here the Haskala encountered bitter resistance from Jewish Orthodoxy and Hasidism. The Enlightenment was propagated by the state when, after the last partition of Poland (1795), the Jews came under the rule of Russia and Austria, who wanted to end their autonomy and raise them to be loyal subjects. Despite the establishment of state Jewish educational institutions, the Haskala did not catch on among the Jewish masses at first.

It was not until the second half of the 19th century that the Jewish Enlightenment was widely accepted in Eastern Europe as a result of the modernization process. A national variant of the Haskala also developed here: the followers were in favor of the modernization of Jewish society, but in connection with new Jewish content that was not primarily religious. This movement campaigned for the revival of ancient Hebrew as a modern language and for national self-determination.

Did you know that …

the term for the Jewish Enlightenment - Haskala - is related to the Hebrew word "Sechel" (understanding)?

the majority of Prussian Jews in the 18th century still spoke Yiddish and could only read Hebrew characters?

In addition to his work as a scientist and scholar, Mendelssohn was also a private tutor and accountant and co-owner of a silk factory?

the Prussian Jewess Rahel Varnhagen, who ran an influential literary salon in Berlin at the beginning of the 19th century, advocated the rights of Jewish women?

How did Moses Mendelssohn get involved in the Haskala in Germany?

Moses Mendelssohn studied in Berlin on the one hand the Torah and the Talmud in a traditional Jewish way, on the other hand also secular knowledge such as modern and ancient languages, philosophy and natural sciences. To better implement his ideas of a Jewish Enlightenment, he translated the Hebrew Bible into German. In his work "Jerusalem or on Religious Power and Judaism" (1783) Mendelssohn tried to work out the conformity of Judaism with reason. He saw Judaism more accessible to the knowledge of reason than Christianity, because "only" a law was revealed to the former, not a religion with doctrines and salvation truths like Christianity. He tried to interpret the Jewish religion in terms of the philosophy of his time. Incidentally, Moses Mendelssohn was the grandfather of the composer Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy.

Reform movements: adjustment without loss of identity

What triggered the reforms within Judaism?

As a reaction to the Enlightenment and the advancing emancipation of the Jews, internal Jewish reform movements emerged in Germany. From this emerged Reform Judaism and Conservative Judaism, which spread rapidly, especially in the USA, and have their main focus there to this day. The first reforms of Judaism under the influence of the Enlightenment did not yet take place on the religious level, but in the educational system. Since the Jews viewed the inadequate knowledge of the German language as the main obstacle to their integration, Jewish schools were founded from 1778, the language of which was German, and which primarily taught secular subjects, but also Hebrew and religion.

What reforms have there been in Germany?

The progressive emancipation of the Jews in German bourgeois society meant that many felt a disproportion between their old traditions and the modern culture of their environment. To compensate for this, calls for reforms grew louder. In particular, the rituals of Jewish worship no longer seemed up to date to many. The reformed Jewish services held from 1810 were based on the Protestant liturgy. The singsong of the prayer leader was replaced by chorales of trained choirs - more and more with organ accompaniment - and the biblical exegetical teaching lecture that followed the Bible reading was replaced by an edifying sermon in German. Most of the prayers were no longer spoken in Hebrew, but in German. It was now shown to the Christian environment that Judaism in its new, reformed form had a place in the modern world.

Who opposed the reforms?

Conservative Judaism emerged as a counter-movement to Reform Judaism. Its founder was the rabbi Zacharias Frankel (1801–1875), who saw the preservation of the Jewish tradition through Reform Judaism in danger. His orientation towards a positive historical Judaism emphasized the inviolable traditional core of the revealed religion, the necessary preservation of traditional rituals, but also the adaptation of Judaism to the requirements of the present. Orthodox German Jewry initially reacted only negatively to the reform movements and even reported the new communities to the Prussian authorities as dangerous sectarians. Soon, however, it also carried out internal reforms, from which, under the leadership of Samson Raphael Hirsch, neo-orthodoxy emerged. This adhered to the Torah as the essence of Judaism and to messianic hope, but also emphasized the great importance of secular education and generally assessed emancipation positively.

How far did the reforms spread?

Reform Judaism spread from Germany to all of Central and Western Europe; it could not gain a foothold in Eastern Europe. It finally experienced its triumphant advance in North America. The first reform congregation in the USA came into being in 1824; in the 1840s and 1850s, particularly Jewish immigrants from German reform congregations contributed to the rapid spread of the movement. The reform in the USA was more radical than in Europe: The gender segregation in worship was abandoned, old rituals such as blowing the shofar on certain holidays were regarded as "primitive" and abolished.

Today there are over 1.2 million Reform Jews worldwide, the majority living in the United States. Small groups, albeit disadvantaged by Jewish orthodoxy, can also be found in Israel. The reform movement has now returned to many of the abandoned rituals, and the proportion of Hebrew in worship has increased again.

How did the traditional Jews feel about assimilation?

The classification and absorption of Jews in modern European society depended on the one hand on the will to assimilate and on the other hand on the willingness of the environment to accept the Jews without demanding the abandonment of their Jewish nature. Traditional Jewish forces resisted assimilation because they feared it would lose their identity. The term itself was picked up from the end of the 19th century by national Jewish currents such as Zionism and fought on the matter.

Did you know that …

Heinrich Heine justified his decision to be baptized as a Christian in 1825 by stating that the "baptism slip was the entrance ticket to European culture"?

Rabbi Abraham Geiger (1810–1874) advocated the thesis that divine revelation is not limited to Sinai, but continues to develop in the religious consciousness of the Jews?

Reform Judaism advocates equal rights for women in Jewish worship?

Zionism: The Idea of ​​the Jewish State

How did Zionism come about?

Zionism emerged in the late 19th century as a Jewish national movement that set itself the goal of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine. Zionist aspirations formed primarily in response to the anti-Semitic mood in most European countries. The Zionist idea of ​​a separate Jewish state was decisively shaped by the Austrian Jew Theodor Herzl.

How did the idea become a movement?

Since the Basel Congress in 1897, Zionism was formed as an organized movement that gave the return of Jews to Palestine a national pathos with additions of peasant, colonialist and socialist influences. However, by no means did active Zionism develop into a majority phenomenon among European and American Jews. Apart from an intellectual Jewish elite, it was more Jews from the poor countries of Eastern Europe who were persuaded to emigrate to Palestine. In 1909 Tel Aviv and the first of the rural settlement and work collectives called "kibbutz", Deganya, were founded.

Who Supported the First Settlers?

The First World War fundamentally changed the situation in the Holy Land. British military put an end to 300 years of Ottoman rule over Palestine. Legitimated by a League of Nations mandate, Great Britain began to administer the country on a provisional basis. British Minister Balfour's declaration of benevolence for the "establishment of a national homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine" raised new hopes. Thousands of other Jews immigrated between 1919 and 1939. Of course, the conflict with the Arab inhabitants of Palestine also intensified.

How did the state of Israel come about?

In the 1940s - not least as a result of the Nazi persecution of Jews in Europe - Jewish immigration continued, while the terrible experiences of the Holocaust intensified international efforts to establish a separate state of Israel. A UN resolution of November 29, 1947 finally provided for the division of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. When the British mandate ended on May 14, 1948, the State of Israel was in fact established. The next day, the young state was attacked by its Arab neighbors. He was able to assert himself in the following Israeli War of Independence.

Is Zionism Responsible for the Middle East Conflict?

It would be an oversimplification to blame Zionism for the ongoing crisis in the Middle East. The roots of the dispute over the Holy Land go back a long way in history. Ethnic, national and religious fanaticisms have always been mingled there to form an ominous conglomerate of intolerance and hatred. One of the central tasks of world politics in the 21st century will be to untangle this Gordian knot in a way that is satisfactory for all. Above all, it is important to ensure Israel's right to exist, but also to do justice to the interests of the Palestinians.

Did you know that …

Theodor Herzl also gave shape to his vision of a Jewish state in a novel entitled "Old New Land" (1902)?

in particular the Dreyfus affair in France, in which a captain on the general staff was falsely suspected of espionage, which convinced Zionists of the necessity of a Jewish state of their own?

In the founding phase of the state, every twelfth inhabitant lived in a kibbutz - a village settlement that lives on collectivized agriculture and is managed by grassroots democracy?

What did Theodor Herzl do for Zionism?

The Austrian journalist Theodor Herzl is considered to be the initiator, theoretician and engine of the Zionist movement. In his book Der Judenstaat, published in 1896, his own experiences with hostility towards Jews in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and the observation of French anti-Semitism merged with Herzl's nationalistic and assimilation-critical motives. Herzl himself was neither overly religious nor a proponent of re-Judaization. But he was convinced that the problem of anti-Semitism could not be solved by giving up Jewish identity, but only by mass emigration of Jews to their own state. Herzl could no longer reap the fruits of his work; When he died in 1904, the second great wave of Jewish immigration to Palestine was just starting. In 1949, Herzl's remains were transferred to Jerusalem.

Extermination of the European Jews: Systematic Genocide

How did the Nazi regime discriminate against the Jews?

Immediately after taking power, the National Socialists began to disenfranchise German Jews and ruin them economically. Their legally enshrined discrimination in the »Nuremberg Laws« (1935), professional bans, the introduction of the Star of David, boycotts, so-called Aryanizations, arrests and terror expelled 150,000 Jews from Germany by 1939. After the "Anschluss" of Austria, the anti-Semitic pace noticeably intensified; the climax of the pre-war riots was the pogrom night of November 9, 1938 with the ensuing mass arrests and internments.

How Did the Persecution Expand East?

After the invasion of Poland, Gestapo chief Reinhard Heydrich issued an order to concentrate all Polish Jews in ghettos - as a preliminary stage to deportation and murder. With the merger of the "Security Police" and the "Security Service of the Reichsführer SS" in the "Reich Security Main Office" under the leadership of the fanatical anti-Semite Heinrich Himmler, a new central authority was established. Their units followed the Wehrmacht into the occupied territories and murdered the Jewish population. This was usually done through mass shootings, but gas vans have also been experimented with.

When were the extermination camps created?

The attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941 finally set the course for the systematic extermination of Jews. Since mid-1941, existing concentration camps, such as Auschwitz and Majdanek, were expanded into extermination camps and other pure extermination camps - Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Kulmhof - were set up. In October 1941, the emigration of Jews from the German sphere of influence was banned. The "Wannsee Conference" of January 1942, under Heydrich's leadership, coordinated action forces and measures for a system of extermination and thus initiated the "Final Solution". In addition to the excessive shootings, there were now killings "by forced labor" and by poison gas.

When were the camps liberated?

The more surely the war was lost, the "more effectively" the National Socialist death machine worked. In front of the approaching Soviet armies, however, Himmler had the actions in the extermination camps gradually ceased from mid-1944 and some of the prisoners were led back to other camps in murderous death marches. The gassings in Auschwitz ended in November 1944; by then a million people had died there. Soviet troops liberated the camp in January 1945. It took until May before the last camps, Mauthausen and Theresienstadt, could be liberated.

The mass murder of the Jews in its specific mixture of complete decivilization and highly developed bureaucratic-technological organization is one of the greatest catastrophes of modern times, perhaps of all history. The horror chronicle and its testimonies will always be accompanied by bewilderment and horror. Research always brings new details to light; But the basic question, "How was it possible?" will occupy science, society and the public for a long time to come.

What was the ideological basis of hatred of Jews?

National Socialism combined racial, pseudo-historical-philosophical and social Darwinist set pieces into an ideological mixture, the result of which was the legitimation of the mass murder of the Jews. Whether Hitler's mindset included her planned assassination from the outset is a controversial but ultimately insignificant question. Ever since Mein Kampf (1925/27) at the latest, Hitler showed himself to be determined to the utmost; To the extent that technical, logistical and personal possibilities for exterminating the Jews were opened up to him, he was ready to use them.

Did you know that …

Adolf Eichmann, who as head of department in the Reich Main Security Office was one of the main people responsible for the implementation of the "Final Solution", later did not want to take any responsibility for his actions? The "desk offender" who was tracked down by the Israeli secret service in Argentina in 1960 and brought to justice in Israel felt "devoid of any guilt". He "had to obey". In 1962 he was executed.

The founding of Israel: a reservoir for Jews from all over the world

What was the driving force behind the founding of the state?

During the diaspora that lasted almost 2000 years, the Jews had never given up hope of a return to "Zion". They combined the re-establishment of the Jewish state with the coming of the Messiah and the dawn of the end times. But only the secular Jewish national movement, Zionism, succeeded in mobilizing large waves of immigration to Palestine from the end of the 19th century. After the UN decision on the partition of Palestine, the state of Israel was finally founded on May 14, 1948. Shortly before that there were already around 600,000 Jews living in the country. Within the next four years, the Jewish population even doubled, especially from the Arab states, the streams of immigration into the country.

What social problems did the new state have to solve?

The first decades were marked by the strong contrast between Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews. The former came from Europe in several waves of immigration, especially before the founding of the state, brought with them a relatively high level of education, often socialist ideals and a Jewry shaped by the European Enlightenment. Only a minority of the Ashkenazim were strictly Orthodox and came from the traditionally shaped Jewish communities of Eastern Europe. The Sephardic Jews, formerly of Spanish origin but who fled mainly to Arab countries after being expelled, brought with them a low level of education and a traditional attitude towards Judaism. Since the Ashkenazim directed the fate of the state according to European standards from the beginning, this led to a feeling of oppression in the ranks of the Sephardim. The separation of the two Jewish communities of origin in its strict form did not last long, however, as there were many Sephardic-Ashkenazi connections.

Did all Jews succeed in integration?