Shabbaton in Fair Lawn, NJ

What is the Meaning of Jewish History?

I gave this series of talks last week in Teaneck and managed to duck most of the hard questions (phew). Not so sure I will get off so easily in Fair Lawn! Please join us.


Parshat Shlach, June 24-25
Sponsored by:
-Eve Thaler for the yarzheit of her husband, David Thaler z”l
-Jon and Ahuva Lamm for the yahrzeit of Jon’s grandfather, Rabbi Maurice Lamm Rav Moshe ben Meir Shmuel
-Chavi and Ari Diamond
Theme: “What is the Meaning of Jewish History?”
All lectures are cumulative in nature, but can be appreciated on their own.
Friday Night Lecture at 9:15 p.m.: “Wrong Answers Only- Josephus and the Roots of Jewish History”
Shabbat Morning Drasha
Shabbat Afternoon at 5:15 p.m
.: “Probably Not What You Think- David Gans and the Idea of Parallel History”
Shabbat Evening between Mincha and Maariv: “Now We’re Getting Somewhere- Cecil Roth and Covenantal History”

Who Was Cecil Roth, Historian?

A brief overview of his courageous scholarship.

I spoke about him at a recent Shabbaton in Teaneck, and someone from the UK was in the audience: Dr. Roth pronounced his first name SEH-sil, not SEE-sil. If I had realized this when I made the video I would have used the English pronunciation rather than the American.

Shabbaton in Fair Lawn!

The Blois Incident of 1171; Shabbaton in Teaneck; Introduction online and Chapter 7 updated

What is the Meaning of Jewish History?

Very honored to be serving as a Scholar-in-Residence at Congregation B’nai Yeshurun. Three new lectures on “What is the Meaning of Jewish History?” will examine at the Ancient, Medieval and Modern periods with a view to understanding some of the complexities of interpreting the fascinating, profound history of the Jewish people.

Judging from past experience in Teaneck, I’m preparing myself for some hard questions (yikes). Here’s a fun trailer and details on the lectures.

The Blois Incident of 1171

A tragedy that is still remembered a thousand years later by French communities.

Introduction to Volume 1 of The Jewish People: A History

Students in the online Biblical Jewish History course: please log in to access a new module that includes the draft of the Introduction to Volume 1. Chapter Seven is also updated. I’m looking forward to reading your comments!

New students welcomed!

All-Night Jewish History Class! Chapter 7 online, Two Shabbatons in New Jersey

Are you in the Five Towns over Shavuot?

Please join us at the Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst for a remarkable series of classes in Jewish history! We’re starting at midnight and learning all night till dawn prayers.

In keeping with our theme this year of “Transformation: Personal, Communal, Global,” I’ve chosen to look at the biographies of several key figures in Jewish history and thought whose lives revolved around moments of dramatic transformation: the biblical King Josiah, the Roman-Jewish historian Josephus, the 13th century Rabbenu Yonah, and the 20th-century philosopher Franz Rosenzweig.

Rabbi Ya’akov Trump is teaching a fantastic series of classes alongside my own, and we’re getting together in the middle of the night to team-teach an examination of the Barcelona Disputation and its impact on the personal transformation of Nachmanides. Here’s the schedule:

This promises to be a fantastic night of discussion and ideas–I’m looking forward to my own personal transformation, culminating in dawn prayers! If you’re in town, please feel free to join us.

Chapter Seven of The Jewish People: A History going online

Very excited to be receiving comments and feedback on the first volume of The Jewish People: A History as it appears, draft chapter by draft chapter, in the Biblical Jewish history course. We are nearing the crucial first century, so dramatic in the millennial history of the Jewish people. If you’d like to read these early chapters and contribute to the success of the overall project, please consider joining us in the course!

Save the Dates: New Jersey Shabbatons

June 17-18: B’nei Yeshurun, Teaneck NJ

June 24-25: Congregation Darchei Noam, Fair Lawn NJ

What is Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day)? A Thousand Years of Ashkenaz Online Course now Complete! Chapter 6 of The Jewish People: A History now Online

The final Ashkenazium lecture is now online!

With this lecture, the online course A Thousand Years of Ashkenaz is now complete! Twelve Modules and 56 lessons in length (mostly videos). Enjoy in good health!

Chapter Six of The Jewish People: A History Now Online!

Arthur Szyk’s highly emotive impression of Judah Maccabee, c. 1935.
See Richard McBee,
Reading Szyk’s Cards Heroes of Ancient Israel: The Playing Card Art of Arthur Szyk

Over 200 pages of draft text are now available to students in the Biblical Jewish History course. My publisher’s due date is fast approaching, and –I’m really appreciating the feedback from students! I anticipate we should have the entire first volume, Biblical Israel, ready for submission to the team at Koren Publishers by the end of the summer.

What is Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day)?

Are you in the 5 Towns over Shavuot?

Join us at YILC for an all-night study session! Multiple tracks open (including Jewish History, natch), fantastic youth programming too.

Want another chance to save a life?

We’re really proud that 45 donors have helped my wife Ilana and I in our drive to raise $3,600 for Renewal this year: we have exceeded that goal, but the website is still open! You still have an opportunity to perform this incomparable mitsvah of saving a human life by supporting kidney donations.

Napoleon and the Jews of Paris; The Holocaust in Ashkenaz; Chapter 6 of Jewish History online; Renewal Fundraising Goal exceeded!

Formally emancipated in 1790-91, the rights of Jews as citizens were challenged a decade later.

In his typically grandiose fashion, Napoleon addressed the question by reconvening the ancient Great Sanhedrin and asked the Jews of France twelve basic questions.

The Holocaust in Ashkenaz

Part 11 of The Ashkenazium Lectures, premieres today at 12:00 noon ET.

Chapter Six of The Jewish People: A History now online for class members

Click here for course information

On schedule to have the entire draft of Volume 1 online by the end of the Summer!

THANK YOU for supporting kidney donations!

On behalf of my wife Ilana, I want to thank you all for supporting our annual fundraiser for Renewal! With your participation we actually exceeded our goal again this year.

If you didn’t get a chance to join us, the website is still live: you’re not too late to join us!

Jewish Commoner Sues Toxic Boss, 630 BCE

Should Jews Support Ukraine?; New Draft Chapter in Biblical History online; The Soviet Experience (Ashkenazium Lectures pt. 10) premieres at 12 noon ET; Thank you to Renewal Supporters!

Proud to work with Unpacked on this brief yet sophisticated discussion of a complex topic.

New Draft Chapter in Biblical Jewish History now Online

Very pleased to be receiving comments on the draft chapters in my forthcoming book with Koren Publishers! Students registered in the Biblical Jewish History course are welcome to read and critique. New chapter drops this morning; publication scheduled for 2024.

Click here for registration and course information

The Soviet Experience (The Ashkenazium Lectures Part X)

Premieres today at 12 Noon ET with Live Chat

Thank You to All who Donated to Renewal!

My wife and I are hugely grateful to those of you who donated to Renewal during their annual fundraiser. We have almost met our goal of raising $3,600 to support kidney transplants; a cause that is deeply personal since my wife Ilana chose to become an altruistic donor three years ago. The need is great, but the fundraiser is ongoing for a little while longer–won’t you please join us in this very worthy cause? Please click on the image for more information.

Yossi needs a kidney. He’s three years old.

My friends, it’s almost Shabbos. Will you participate? Inscribe your name in the Book of Life by joining the list of donors to Renewal. Your contribution, large or small, will help them find a kidney for someone in desperate need.

We can’t all be heroic altruistic kidney donors. But we can certainly be altruistic dollar donors, at whatever level of commitment we can manage. Please participate, and count yourself among those who provide life.

By helping others enjoy the blessing of life, may you and your loved ones also be blessed with life.

Good shabbos.

The Letter of the Convert; Personal Appeal; National Awakening in Ashkenaz today at 12 noon ET

900 years later, a document from the Cairo Geniza describes the tragic story of a French convert to Judaism during the Crusades

Three years ago, my wife donated a kidney. Here’s why.

Three years ago, on erev Yom Kippur, my wife Ilana donated a kidney to a total stranger. Although she literally gave someone the precious gift of life, it is clear to her (and the entire family) that we have been blessed far more in return.

My wife’s heroic efforts contributed directly to saving one person’s life. She would really love to do it again, but this is an act of altruismthat can only be performed once in a lifetime. Yet by helping Renewal  match recipients with donors, provide support to donors and their families through the entire process, you can also take a share in this mitzvah.

Please click here to hear my wife speak about her donation in her own words, and participate in this phenomenal act of kindness for a fellow human being.

May you and your loved ones be blessed for your act of selflessness.

Premieres at 12 Noon ET

Symon Petliura in Jewish History and Jewish Memory (Members)