In order to understand the Jewish community of today – we need to examine all sorts of phenomena that explain why the Jewish community today, in different places in the world, looks the way that it does. We need to understand too, why the idea of Jewish community has been so central to Jews for thousands of years.
For this and the next two chapters, we will be following the strange path of the Jewish community as it wends its way through time, changing and developing as it encounters new situations and finds itself forced to adapt to strange and often difficult circumstances. We will see how the framework and the content of the lives of our ancestors changed and indeed revolutionized themselves in the three periods in question. Let us now open our story and plunge into the first period: how does the whole story begin?
In this chapter we will examine the dynamics of Jewish community in the emerging Diaspora center. We will see the growth and the decline of great Jewish communities, each with their own Rabbinic leadership in different parts of the world. The basis had been laid in Palestine. The results were to be seen throughout the world. The story of the Jews was changing yet again.
Looking for a place to park our weary bones
We will be looking at themes connected with the idea and the practice of Jewish community within the historical framework that we have already established. The development of the Jewish community is an inseparable part of that story. The question that we are going to examine in this chapter is ‘why?’ Why was the Jewish community such an important part of the historical story? What was it in the Jewish community that made it so central in Jewish history?
So what did the whole thing look like?
In this chapter we will examine how the Jewish community was structured and how the values and beliefs that lay behind the whole Rabbinic system produced an institutional structure that reflected them. We will examine the institutions of the community and we will acquaint ourselves with the main types of personality that could be found in such communities. We will then go on to examine the way that individual communities fitted into a wider structure within a given center and finally we will look at the issue of relations between different centers.
Place: Raanana. High School.
Class teacher: Male.
Deputy Headmaster: Male.
Literature teacher: Male.
Teacher of Mishna, Character and Family life – the halacha of married life: Male.
Sociology teacher: Male. To Full Post
Sometimes it has felt as though we were blowing a shepherd’s flute in the midst of a rock concert. Yet slowly, slowly there are the outlines of an academic field (kudos to the Schusterman Foundation), and various kinds of educational inquiry and practice (with Makom, Center for Israel Education, the iCenter, the Melton Centre for Jewish Education and the Hartman Institute Engaging Israel project). To Full Post
A Jewish diaspora has existed since the times of the First Temple. The balance of power between Eretz Yisrael and the diaspora was in a constant flux, depending on the sizes of the communities, their economic and political wellbeing, and the existence of a temple which served as the religious center for the Jewish world. In this unit we’ll look at Eretz Yisrael-diaspora relations in the time of the second Temple and after its destruction, always keeping in mind the (somewhat striking) parallels with phenomena we observe today. As an example of a large and powerful community (somewhat like the North-American Jewish community today?) we will examine in more detail the Babylonian community. We’ll look at the two Talmuds, one from Babylonia and the other from Eretz Yisrael, to see the differences and why they emerged, and examine one particular story which appears in both Talmuds, with subtle but telling difference.
A few weeks ago we marked the 63rd anniversary of the sinking of the Altalena . A complicated event, which culminated in the newly formed IDF receiving a direct order from Ben-Gurion to open fire on a ship of armaments arriving from Europe and into the hands of the supposedly disbanded Etzel (the revisionist Irgun fighters)
In Israel at her most incestuous, Moshe Dayan opened fire on the ship carrying Menahem Begin at Kfar Vitkin… Dayan would, thirty years later, be the loyal Foreign Minister to Begin in the role of Prime Minister.
I’ve been getting really wound up by a series of articles that my friend Rabbi Daniel Gordis has been writing about trainee North American Rabbis and their connection to Israel. His latest one in Commentary just wouldn’t let me rest. While acknowledging that aspects of his problem analysis are sharp and spot-on, I think that the educational consequences of tackling the problem as he defines it are mistaken and damaging.
Danny’s heart is broken because
in the case of these rabbinical students, there is not an instinct that should be innate—the instinct to protect their own people first, or to mourn our losses first.
The day before the new au pair arrived, my father took me aside. “Gideon, be kind to her,” he said, “for remember, you were once a stranger in the Land of Egypt.” I was only five years old at the time, and I was bewildered by his words, but from his tone, I understood that his message was urgent. I was growing up in the shadows of the Holocaust and he was giving me my first lesson in tolerance and the importance of kindness to strangers.