Imagine that, while browsing in the library, you come across one book unlike the rest, which catches your eye because on its spine is written the name of your family. Intrigued, you open it and see many pages written by different hands in many languages. You start reading it, and gradually you begin to understand what it is. It is the story each generation of your ancestors has told for the sake of the next, so that everyone born into this family can learn where they came from, what happened to them, what they lived for and why. As you turn the pages, you reach the last, which carries no entry but a heading. It bears your name.

Jonathan Sacks, A Letter in the Scroll


We believe:

  • that the study of Jewish history adds value and meaning to human existence for both Jews and non-Jews
  • that academic Jewish history lectures need not sacrifice content to be entertaining
  • that access to high-quality information on Jewish history should be free
  • that shared intellectual curiosity about Jewish history is a healthy way to build a community
  • that the study of Jewish history is one of many paths that lead to the study of Torah, and that Torah study is enriched by a fuller understanding of Jewish history

Would you like to support our work? Here’s a few ideas:

  • Like, comment, and subscribe! Help the message get out there. We are so grateful to our regular viewers, and are especially happy when you share the lectures with others.
  • Translate your virtual enthusiasm into a real-world experience. Join or form a community of enthusiasts engaged in some kind of related activity (maybe a class, or enjoy a Shabbat dinner in your city, things like that). If you’re in the neighborhood of the mighty Avenue J campus, come on by for one of our weekly classes (Lander College of Arts and Sciences, 1602 Avenue J, Brooklyn NY 11230).
  • Donate your money or your volunteer energy to a related cause. Support the study of Jewish history in your own community. Interested in something more specific? My favorite cause is certainly our Jewish History @ Avenue J Scholarship Fund at the College, which helps me support undergraduate students. Contact me at the College at, (718) 252-7800, extension 59333.

Thank you!

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  1. Congratulations I live in São Paulo, Brasil and i m a big fan of your work.
    Thanks for sharing and bringing Light in this World
    Toda raba

    Claudio Wulkan
    ( Kalman tzvi)

  2. I really like all your lecture and I told and post this always on Facebook , my friends find this also interesting.

  3. Love hearing your lectures on Youtube, but was wondering… When are you going to do Podcasts?! 🙂

  4. Dr. Abramson. Thank you so much for your lectures. I read you bio on Wikipedia and noticed that your area of research for your dissertation was the history of the Jews in the Ukraine. I have two questions and am curious if you could point me to literature on thesestopics. The first is the role of Jews as middle men for absentee landowners in the Pale of Settlement /the Ukraine. To what extent did the position of Jews as the business people in the Pale contribute to antisemitism and to pogroms. The second question deals with the role of Jews, if any, in the starvation of Russians and Ukrainians in the famine of 1932-1933. I have listened to lectures by Richard Pipes and have them informative but have not found a lecture that deals directly with these issues. Again, thank you for your work.

  5. Hello Rabbi,

    I have a question. I am very interested in Sefer HaChinuch, especially its noting who and where certain mitzvot apply. Do you know if that information is included in a book called “Concise Sefer Hachinook”? (Not to be confused with Concise Book of Mitzvot). I also noted a similar publication by an Abraham Chill. Any insight would be appreciated…and advising to go straight to the original multi-volume Sefer HaChinuch would be considered a valid reply. (But keep in mind I am approaching my 64th birthday!!
    Thank you. Keep up the good work.
    Gary Drake

  6. Your online lectures on Jewish history are excellent and have made me into even more of a collector of interesting fragments of Jewish references in my travels (I collect other stuff too). Might you think about some lectures about Jewish history in Africa which could be quite a multi-faceted topic? I recently saw that there is a Jewish museum in Livingstone, Zambia as well of course as one at least in South Africa (Cape Town?). Wandering around Swakopmund in Namibia I saw some names indicating Jewish businesses and the wonderful Sam Cohen Memorial Library of the town’s Scientific Society – I think one could write a novel about that.

    Finally some more about Jews in France, specifically the South. I was recently staying in the absolutely lovely little French town of Alet les Bains in the Aude Departement. It was founded in pre Roman times and seems to have flourished until perhaps the seventeenth century, after which it has been bypassed by modernity. For Jewish history purposes it is noteworthy that it has a Jewry street “rue de la Juiverie” though no traces of who lived there. There is also a house which supposedly belonged to Nostradamus’s grandparents and where he stayed as a child. (You will recall that the seer Nostradamus came from a family of Jewish converts to Christianity). Various strange and possibly alchemical symbols are carved on the wooden beams of the house but they include a Star of David in a circle. Someone still lives in the house and don’t seem to welcome inquisitive tourists. Finally the town’s church of St Andre has four windows where the stone surround is in the form of Stars of David. The story goes that in the Middle Ages the town needed a new church and turned to the Jews for funding. As a gesture of goodwill they waived interest on the loan and in return got these emblems included in the fabric of the church. Maybe an apocryphal story – other churches in the area have got similar windows. But they may also have links to Jewish history!

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