Who Was King David?

“Sweet singer of Israel,” David was the poet-warrior King who led the Jewish people to political and cultural prominence. Denied his most cherished goal of building the Temple, he lived a life of great personal challenge and heroic resurgence from tragedy, and his biography left an indelible mark on the Jewish understanding of leadership.

Who Was Joshua?

The Bible describes how the Jewish people, emerging from Egyptian servitude and decades of wandering in the Sinai desert, followed Joshua’s military leadership to conquer the Land of Israel and establish the ancient foundations of their Torah-centered society. This lecture will survey the archeological and historical record to understand the larger context of the Biblical account. Part II of Israel: The Land and its People.

Rashi (This Week in Jewish History)

Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitshak) was a great 11th century commentator on the Torah. This brief video outlines his major scholarly contribution within historical context.

Who Was Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav? Jewish Biography as History

One of the most creative, unusual, and controversial Hasidic leaders at the turn of the 19th century, Rabbi Nahman of Bratzlav (Nachman of Breslov) continues to inspire generations of disciples. Part of the Jewish Biography as History series, more available at http://www.henryabramson.com.

The Origins of Modern Jewish Humor (Essential Lectures in Jewish History)

This is a more-or-less scholarly discussion of the origins of modern Jewish history in Enlightenment Europe. Warning: there are a few jokes in this video, but they only start around the 15 minute mark. The rest is more theoretical and historical. Part of the Essential Lectures in Jewish History series, more available at http://www.henryabramson.com.

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Here are a few of Dr. Abramson’s recent publications. He’s not very funny in print (but taller).

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The Sea of Talmud

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Who was Gluckel of Hameln? Jewish Biography as History by Dr. Henry Abramson

Gluckel of Hameln, a Jewish woman who lived in late 17th-century Germany, left a remarkable memoir describing her life. Part of the Jewish Biography as History series by Dr. Henry Abramson, more available at http://www.henryabramson.com.

Jewish History in the Sixteenth Century (Essential Lectures in Jewish History)

The Jewish people experienced dramatic changes in the sixteenth century that reverberate to this day. This lecture discusses three aspects of this century in particular: 1) the demographic upheavals associated with the expulsions from Spain and Portugal as well as the Ashkenazic migration, 2) the impact of the disruptive technology of printing, and 3) the ramifications of the Safed circle.

Who Was Rabbi Shlomo Alkabets? Jewish Biography as History by Dr. Henry Abramson

Famed author of the Lecha Dodi hymn sung on the eve of the Jewish sabbath, Rabbi Alkabets was one of the founding members of the 16th-century school of Kabbalists based in Safed (Tsfat), Israel.

Next week’s lecture: Gluckel of Hameln!

Love Yiddish culture? Check out the new poster for the 2015 Kultur Festival in Boca Raton! I’m really proud to be doing a book reading (The Kabbalah of Forgiveness) there on March 6. Main event, as always, will be Maestro Aaron Kula’s phenomenal Klezmer Company Orchestra concert on March 1!

KULTUR 2015

Who Were the Soncinos? Jews and the Gutenberg Revolution(s)

Early adopters of the newest disruptive technology, the Soncino family were the first Jewish printers in 15th century Europe. This lecture discusses some aspects of the early decades of Jewish printing, and meditates on the meaning of the current digital revolution for Jewish culture and society.

Planning to attend Limmud Miami this year?

I would love to see you at the session on The Kabbalah of Forgiveness! Register here.

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The Septuagint (This Week in Jewish History) Dr. Henry Abramson

The Septuagint, an ancient translation of the Torah into Koine Greek, had a tremendous impact on the later Christian understanding of Jewish theology.