Jewish Biography as History

These lectures study various individuals in Jewish history–the leaders and the led, the virtuous and the villainous. Some of the lectures feature more in-depth analysis of their lives and contributions, others are just excuses to discuss the larger historical times in which they lived.  Each lecture is about 60 minutes in length.  You may find the briefer Essential Lectures in Jewish History series useful for contextual information. Enjoy them in good health!

Ancient Period



Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai

Rabbi Meir


Rachel, Wife of Akiva

Judah Maccabbee


Josephus Against Apion


Paul of Tarsus

Bar Kochba


Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai


Medieval Period

Anan ben David

Eldad ha-Dani

Sa’adia Gaon

Sherira Gaon

Aaron of Lincoln


Rashi (Letters Flying Free)

Count Emicho

Yocheved bat Rashi

Rabenu Gershom Me’or ha-Golah

Avraham Ibn Ezra


Shlomo ben Adret (the Rashba)


The Maimonidean Controversy

Avraham ben HaRambam


Benjamin of Tudela

Nicholas Donin

Wuhsha the Broker

Yehudah Ha-Levi

Shmuel ha-Nagid

Yehudah He-Hasid

Maharam of Rothenburg

Don Isaac Abravanel

Dona Gracia Nasi

Benvenida Abravanel

Johannes Pfefferkorn

David Reubeni

The Soncino Family

Uriel Da Costa

Modern Period

Rabbi Shlomo Alkabets

Rabbi Moshe Cordovero

Rabbi Isaac Luria (the Arizal)

Rabbi Yosef Karo

Rabbi Chaim Vital

Gluckel of Hameln

Nathan of Hanover

Shabbetai Tsvi

Sarah, Wife of Shabbetai Tsvi

Johann Eisenmenger

Baruch Spinoza

Rabbi Moshe Hayim Luzzatto (the Ramchal)

Israel ben Eliezer (The Ba’al Shem Tov)

Sarah bas Tovim

Moses Mendelssohn

Salomon Maimon

Rabbi Eliyahu ben Shlomo (The Vilna Gaon)

Rabbi Schneur Zalman (The Alter Rebbe)

Pinhas Hurwitz

Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav

Bilhah Abigaill Levy Franks

Khane-Rokhl Webermakher

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch

Rahel Varnhagen

Heinrich Graetz

Theodor Herzl

Leon Trotsky

Shalom Aleichem

Solomon Mikhoels

Sarah Bernhardt

Shimon Dubnow

Sarah Schenirer

Stephen Samuel Wise

Sigmund Freud

Henrietta Szold

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook

Evgenia Ginzburg

Emanuel Ringelblum

Hannah Szenes

Albert Einstein

Isaac Bashevis Singer

Betty Friedan

Menachem Begin

Golda Meir

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson

Rabbi Israel Salanter

Heinrich Heine

Benjamin Disraeli

Franz Kafka

Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan (The Chofetz Chaim)

Emma Goldman

Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky

Rabbi Kalonymus Kalmish Shapiro (The Piaseczno Rebbe)

Janusz Korczak

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson

Rav Kook

The Chazon Ish

Rabbi Dr. Yosef Baer (J.D.) Soloveitchik (The Rav)

Elie Wiesel

17 thoughts on “Jewish Biography as History

Add yours

  1. Greetings to you. I am an exclusive Christian Librarian from Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India. I have listened to your lectures on YouTube and am blessed. At our nearby village there are some very ancient writings which are similar to ancient hebrew language. If you can please help me with your email address, I will send these ancient writings with photographs. Hope you are interested as well as me. Thanking you.

  2. Dear Dr Abramson, I love your Jewish history lectures. You did a lecture on the Socialist but left out Communist, Karl Marx. It will be interesting to have a lecture on him. Thank you

  3. I have noticed you don’t monetize your website, don’t waste your traffic,
    you can earn extra bucks every month because you’ve got high
    quality content. If you want to know how to make extra
    $$$, search for: best adsense alternative Dracko’s tricks

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: