Who was King Bulan of Khazaria? Jewish Biography as History

Presentation on the history of the Khazar conversion to Judaism, with updated material based on recent research.

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 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.

Who Was the Rashba? Jewish Biography as History by Dr. Henry Abramson

Rabbi Shlomo ben Adret, known to his student by the acronym of his name Rashba, was one of the most brilliant Talmudists of medieval Spain. Student of Nachmanides (Ramban) and teacher to the Ritva, his writings are studied to the present day.

Here’s Dr. Abramson in print (because there are times and places where one just can’t enjoy a video). ¬†Check out the eBook versions as well. ¬†


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Who Was Ibn Ezra? Jewish Biography as History Dr. Henry Abramson

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Hailed as one of the greatest commentators on the Torah, Abraham ibn Ezra lived a life of great scholarly accomplishment amidst great personal suffering.


Who was Eldad ha-Dani? Jewish Biography as History by Dr. Henry Abramson

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Claiming descent from the long-lost Ten Tribes of Israel, Eldad was a ninth-century traveler with a fantastic story: beyond the “River Kush” lay an intact civilization of Jews who enjoyed political sovereignty, in preparation for their eventual return to the Land of Israel in messianic times. Surviving shipwreck, cannibals and attack from fire-worshipping pagans, Eldad’s story of the mystical river Sambatyon and the Jews who lived there captivated the Jewish mind for centuries, and had a lasting impact on the development of Christian thought as well. But was he for real?

Dr. Abramson is way better in print (and taller, too):

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Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon: Maimonides

Maimonides teaching, 14th c. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Maimonides teaching, 14th c. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (1135-1204) was a towering figure in medieval Jewish history, and continues to cast a long shadow into the Jewish present.  Nevertheless, the work of the philosopher-physician endured significant controversy, including an especially sad episode in which Jews actually consigned his works to the flames.