Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Winds of Change
5 Lectures

Item #: S326

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18th Century Jewish Europe
The onslaught of modernism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries forced the Jewish world to come to grips with the new society and ideologies that modernism created. How the Jewish people responded to this immense challenge is the subject of this series of lectures. The great and yet sometimes malevolent social and political movements that modernism introduced made their way into Jewish life as well. The effects of this struggle within Jewish society are still present with us today. Rabbi Berel Wein not only provides important and necessary knowledge about the immediate Jewish past, but helps explain and illuminate the events and occurrences of today's Jewish world as well. This series will inform, challenge and inspire you - don't miss it!

Individual lectures:

Amsterdam - The city of Amsterdam was much like New York City; Jews may have been a minority in population, but they were highly influential in commerce and government. However, like so many Jewish communities before and since, Amsterdam Jews were no strangers to internal conflict. Amidst tensions between Sephardim and Ashkenazim, new controversies arose that further widened the rift. From the popularity of the false messiah Shabsai Tzvi to the suspicion under which the Arizal's kabbalah was held, Rabbi Wein characterizes the religious battles fought in this once-thriving and wealthy Jewish community.

London - The revival of the London Jewish community in the 17th century, a place of anti-Semitic violence some four centuries before, was the result of some of the shrewdest maneuverings in Jewish history. Rabbi Wein shows how the gradual weakening of the British monarchy greased the path for Jewish growth in England, but how anti-Semitic attitudes have always remained latent there. Because of this, the Jewish experience in England has been a mixed picture of occasional favor with widespread assimilation.

Berlin - German hatred for the Jews did not originate with Hitler and Nazi Germany. With the exception of the Jews of Altoona, German Jews in the 18th century lived under worse circumstances than their Eastern European counterparts. The man who reversed that was Moses Mendelssohn. Rabbi Wein chronicles Mendelssohn's rise to celebrity within German society, and captures the bitter irony that Mendelssohn's proposed solutions to anti-Semitism did nothing to stop "the final solution."

Vilna - Vilna, the motherland of both the yeshiva and Chassidic movements was a place where Torah flourished while disputes ran deep. Rabbi Wein sketches the history of both movements and their fierce rivalry which escalated even to the point of violence. Into the mix came the secularists of the haskalah movement who unwittingly brought about a truce by forcing the two traditionalist factions to unite against a common enemy.

Cracow - Though the Jews enjoyed the favor of the Polish nobility for several centuries, the peasant class resented them, and the Church despised them as a matter of doctrine. By the 17th century, the Jews lost the favor of the nobility also, and anti-Semitic violence intensified. Yet against this backdrop rose the Chassidic movement, sweeping Polish Jewry and sustaining them through one of the bitterest exiles in history.

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