The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book

The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book

The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book

The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book

Synopsis

A comprehensive and articulate history of the turbulent and complex relationships in the Middle East that brillantly captures the people and the history.

Excerpt

With the advent of Islam and the great Arab conquests of the seventh and eighth centuries of this era, a new world order was established stretching from India and Central Asia in the east to Morocco and Spain in the west. The majority of world Jewry at that time came under Arab rule. The Jews soon adopted the language of their conquerors, and along with the other peoples of this vast empire, took part in creating a new and vibrant civilization, medieval Islam, which enjoyed the most advanced material culture since the heyday of Rome. In the scientific and intellectual spheres, this civilization was to remain unsurpassed until the Renaissance in Europe. It would continue to evoke the admiration, wonder, and envy of Europeans long after it had been eclipsed.

Jewish culture itself developed and flourished during the Islamic High Middle Ages (ca. 850-1250). This was the period that saw the veritable crystalization and formulation of Judaism as we know it today. During this time, the Babylonian Talmud gradually became the constitutional foundation of Diaspora Judaism, the synagogue service and the prayerbook text took on their familiar form, Jewish theology was systematized, Jewish law codified, and Hebrew language and literature underwent its greatest revival prior to its rebirth in modern times.

By the end of the thirteenth century, however, the center of historical gravity had shifted northward and westward to Europe. So too had the major centers of Jewish population and creativity. Most of the countries of the Arab world came under the rule of non-Arab military . . .

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