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Jewish History

Highlights about Jewish life in antiquity and under Islamic and Christian rule in the early medieval period. You can also learn about Judaism in the late medieval and modern periods in this section.

King Solomon built the first Jewish temple as a place of worship and a...
King Solomon built the first Jewish temple as a place of worship and a monument to God. It was destroyed in 587 B.C.E. by the Babylonians - a tragic event that is still remembered every year on Tisha B'Av.

The Hebrew Language
Learn about the history of Hebrew as an ancient language and the development of Hebrew as a modern language today.

What Was the Great Revolt?
The Great Revolt was the first of three major Jewish rebellions against the Romans. It eventually resulted in the destruction of the Second Temple.

Jerusalem: 3,000 Years of History
From King David's conquest through today's Intifada, Jerusalem has a unique story to tell.

Jews and Jerusalem: The Source of the Bond
Jerusalem is holy to more people than any other city on earth. For Muslims, Jerusalem (known as Al-Quds, the Holy) is where Muhammad ascended to heaven. For Christians, Jerusalem is where Jesus walked, was crucified and resurrected. Why is Jerusalem a sacred city for Jews?

The Holocaust (Shoah)
A highly recommended starting place for exploring the Holocaust. A great variety of in-depth articles about the Holocaust.

The Living Testify
Hungarian Holocaust survivors, who live today on Moshav Nir Galim in Israel, give personal testimonies of their Holocaust experiences.

Opening: 16 Miles of Nazi Files
After 60 years of being hidden away from the public, Nazi records about the 17.5 million people - Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, mental patients, handicapped, political prisoners and other "undesirables" – they persecuted will be open to the public. The ITS Holocaust Archive in Bad Arolson, Germany contains 50 million pages of Nazi documents.

What Is the Behemoth?
The Behemoth is a mythical beast that is mentioned in Job 40:15-24. It is said to be a gigantic ox-like beast with bones as hard as bronze and limbs as firm as rods of iron.

What Is the Ziz?
The Ziz is a mythological bird that is sometimes called "The Queen of Birds."

What Is the Leviathan?
The Leviathan is a mythical sea monster or dragon that is mentioned in Job 41.

The Fast of Gedaliah
Tzom Gedaliah is a minor fast day that highlights the fact that the murder of a righteous individual is as tragic as the destruction of the Temple.

Asara b'Tevet
Commemorating the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia and his subsequent conquest of Judah, this fast day falls near Chanukah on the tenth of the month of Tevet and is considered a minor fast day on the Jewish calendar.

Yom Yerushalayim

Ezra the Scribe

What is the Talmud?
The Torah might be the cornerstone of Judaism, but the Talmud, with it's Q&A style, is what has shaped modern Judaism as we know it.

The Four Mitzvot of Purim

Who was Rahab?
Rahab, called a zonah (prostitute or harlot) in the Book of Joshua, is considered one of the most righteous converts to the Israelite religion (Judaism) by the rabbis.

Who Was Ovadiah the Convert?
This is the vivid 12th-century testimony of a noble, Norman religious thinker turned convert to Judaism, which was discovered among hundreds of thousands of Jewish documents in the Cairo Genizah.

Charitable Giving for Refugee Converts
Take a peek at the stories of converts to Judaism in the medieval period fleeing Christian lands and living as refugees in the community of Fustat-Misr in Egypt.

Passover: Picking the Right Haggadah
The Passover seder can be a lengthy and daunting experience, so having the right haggadah can make or break the holiday. Having a haggadah chock full of fascinating facts, insights, and graphics can provide you, your guests, and your children with endless possibilities.

What is Shlissel Challah?
There is a tradition of baking the unique "shlissel challah" for the first Shabbat after Passover as a good omen for livelihood throughout the year.

What is the Book of Tobit?
Although not considered canonical by Judaism, the Book of Tobit is a fascinating book with magical undertones and subtle comedy.

Tikkun Leil Shavuot
On Shavuot, many Jews participate in all-night Torah study as part of their celebration of the holiday that God gave the Five Books of Moses to the Jews.

The Best of Basic Judaism Books
There are dozens of "how to" and "about guides" to Judaism out there, so how do you know which one is right for you? Check out these Judaism 101 books!

What is a shtreimel?
If you've seen a religious Jewish man walking around with a relic of furry, colder days in Russia, you might be curious about the shtreimel!

Who Was Imma Shalom?
Tracing the historical Imma Shalom, a well-known woman of the Talmud, is difficult if not impossible given the few texts and traditions available today.

What is the Mikvah?
A mikvah is so critical to a Jewish community that the Talmud prioritizes building a mikvah over a synagogue! How much do you know about mikvah?

What is Tzom Tammuz?
Tzom Tammuz is probably one of the lesser known of Judaism's many fast days. Occuring in the summer, it kicks off the "three weeks" in Judaism.

How To: The Three Weeks
The Three Weeks in Judaism, which start on the 17th of Tammuz with a fast and culminate with the fast of Tisha b'Av. Do you know the laws?

The Western Wall: A Quick History
The Kotel has stood as a symbol of Judaism for thousands of years, but have Jews always been able to pray there?

What is the Western Wall?
Although many think that the Kotel was an actual wall of the Second Temple, it was actually a retaining wall of the greater Temple Mount area.

Falling in Love on Tu b'Av
Often called the Jewish Valentine’s Day, Tu b’Av is not a very well known holiday in the Jewish calendar but it has a very rich history.

Judaism's View on Suicide
Suicide is a difficult reality and has plagued mankind since the times of the Tanakh. But how does Judaism address suicide?

The Top 5 Most Misunderstood Things About Judaism
If a rabbi blessed it, it must be kosher, right? Check out this and four other popular misunderstandings about Jews and Judaism.

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