From Mesopotamia to Modernity: Ten Introductions to Jewish History and Literature

By Burton L. Visotzky; David E. Fishman | Go to book overview

8
Modern
Jewish History

DAVID E. FISHMAN


The Early Modern Period (1500-1750)

The expulsion of the Jews from Spain, in 1492, culminated the gradual process through which the Jews were expelled from Western and much of central Europe in the Middle Ages. In its aftermath, the centers of Jewish life shifted eastward: to Italy and the Ottoman Empire (including the Land of Israel) for the Sephardim (Jews of Iberian origin), and to Poland for the Ashkenazim (Jews of northern European origin). Because of continued eastward migration (in the sixteenth century) and natural increase (in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries), 80 percent of the world's 2.5 million Jews lived in the Near East and eastern Europe in 1800.

In many respects, Jewish life in the lands of resettlement continued along medieval lines: Jews were legally a separate category of inhabitants; their internal affairs were governed by Jewish communal bodies (the kahal) recognized by the Crown; and the revealed and binding nature of Jewish religious law remained the cornerstone of Jewish social values. Jewry was bound together by a shared liturgical and literary tongue -- Hebrew -- and by a common messianic faith in their eventual return to the Land of Israel.

In many respects, the Jews' separateness, distinctiveness, and traditional religious culture not only persisted but actually intensified in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. With their geographic shift eastward, the Jews' spoken languages now differed greatly from that of their nonJewish neighbors, with Ashkenazim speaking Yiddish -- a Germanic language -- in a Slavic environment, and Sephardim speaking Judezmo -- a Romance language -- in Turkey. The Catholic Counterreformation led to more strictly enforced physical segregation of Jews in Italy and Poland.

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From Mesopotamia to Modernity: Ten Introductions to Jewish History and Literature
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 7
  • 1 - The Hebrew Bible 9
  • Notes 35
  • Suggested Readings 35
  • 2 - Jewish History and Culture in the Hellenistic Period 37
  • Notes 54
  • Suggested Readings 55
  • 3 - Judaism Under Roman Domination: from the Hasmoneans Through the Destruction of the Second Temple 57
  • Notes 69
  • Suggested Readings 69
  • 4 - The Literature of the Rabbis 71
  • Suggested Readings 102
  • 5 - The History of Medieval Jewry 103
  • Suggested Readings 126
  • 6 - Medieval Jewish Literature 127
  • Suggested Readings 165
  • 7 - Medieval Jewish Philosophy 167
  • Notes 180
  • Suggested Readings 180
  • 8 - Modern Jewish History 181
  • Suggested Readings 206
  • 9 - History of Soviet Jewry 207
  • Notes 231
  • Suggested Readings 231
  • 10 - Modern Jewish Literature 233
  • Notes 254
  • Suggested Readings 254
  • About the Editors and Contributors 255
  • Index 257
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