THE JEWS OF ALSACE, LORRAINE AND THE RHINELAND
The Rise of Ashkenazi Jewry
The seminar in northern France seeks to analyse the background of Franco-German Jewry, commonly called Ashkenazi. The roots of the main branch of Jewry go back to the IX century when small communities of wealthy and learned Jews with their entourage settled in the Rhineland and northern France. They were treated as favoured immigrants from Italy, Provence and Spain. The tiny communities of Franco-Germany grew to become centers of commerce and finance and above all seats of Jewish learning. Major themes in the seminar include: the study of Torah and the Talmud which reached their peak in the XI-XIII centuries, Rashi and the Tossafists, Hasside Askenaz, persecutions and massacres from the First Crusade to the 1348 Black Plague and the eventual expulsions. Our visit will take us to important Jewish sites in Alsace, Lorraine and the Rhineland.
THE JEWS OF MEDIEVAL CATALONIA
Mysticism, Scholarship and Culture
Catalonia, and particularly Barcelona and Gerona, were the seat of scholarship in the fields of Kabbalah and Rabbinics. Some of the greatest scholars of the Middle Ages were Catalan: Nahmanides, R. Jonah Gerondi, the Rashba, R. Nisim Gerondi, the Ribash and R. Hasdai Crescas. This short list indicates the centrality of Catalan Jewry in medieval Jewish culture. The seminar examines the background, the direction and the very rich literary product of a Jewish culture that has since become an integral part of Judaism. During one week we walk through the narrow streets of the medieval Jewish quarters and visit sites where great scholars as well as simple Jews lived, studied and prayed, leaving behind them a legacy of paramount importance.
THE JEWS OF ARAGON AND CATALONIA
Between Ashkenaz and Sepharad (Northern Spain)
This trip examines characteristics of the Jewish communities in the two most important constituents of the medieval Crown of Aragon, one of the major Hispanic Kingdoms. The region is at a crossroad between Christian Europe and the world of Islam, between Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jewry. The impact of this on the history of the local Jews is analyzed in some the lectures. Various aspects of Jewish life in Catalonia-Aragon are presented. We stay in the fascinating northern regional capital of Zaragoza and in Barcelona, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. A special visit takes place to Gerona, an important Kabbalistic center. We also tour Figueras where a Jewish community existed, while there we visit the Dali Museum. The other visits are to charming villages and small cities where Jews had lived.
JEWISH LIFE IN THE BALKANS
Jewish Sights and Sites in Bosnia and Croatia
The seminar is dedicated to the history of the Jews in the Balkans, in the area that is now included in Bosnia and Croatia. The Balkans is the meeting point between East and West, Islam and Christianity. This has deeply affected the Jews who have lived in the region ever since antiquity and had belonged to the Hellenistic and later Romaniot branch of Jewry. The arrival of the Sefardi Jews, expelled from the Iberian Peninsula, added much importance to the Jewish presence in the Balkans, which, by the end of the fifteenth century was mostly part of the Ottoman Empire. The Sefardi Jews who were also joined by Ashkenazi and Italian Jews maintained a very clear predominance throughout the region. Ladino became the language of most Jews and the prevalent liturgy and traditions were those of Sefarad. It was here that the Zionist idea was heard long before Jews elsewhere heard it from Pinsker or Herzl. The seminar will examine the religious, cultural, linguistic, social, political, economic and communal life of the Jews who lived among Muslims, Orthodox and Catholics, on the border where Islam and Christianity met and clashed. The tragic end of many communities came with the Holocaust.
THE JEWS OF BOHEMIA AND MORAVIA
Reality and Fantasy: In the Footsteps of the Maharal and the Golem
In the heart of Europe, in the early days of the Middle Ages, the foundations of a vibrant Jewish life were laid. It took place within the precincts of the independent Jewish Town, separated from the Old Town of Prague. This community drew its inspiration from the traditional sources of Judaism brought from distant eastern lands by early Jewish settlers whose adventurous spirit and search for livelihood and safe haven brought them to the heartland of Christendom. By the 12th century Jewish culture was flourishing in Prague, the rest of Bohemia and neighboring Moravia. Scholars such as Abraham ben Aziel and Yitshak ben Moshe (Or Zaru'a) illustrate the great achievements of Bohemian and Moravian Jewry in the field of rabbinics. In the 16th century Prague became an important center of Jewish scholarship. Hebrew printing in Prague was the first to be established north of the Alps. An eminent list of fine scholars included the Maharal and the scientists David Gans and Joseph Delmedigo.
Periods of relative peace and horrible massacres characterize the history of the Jews in this region. Judaizing Hussites added color to a fascinating Judeo-Christian relationship that led to the emergence of the Judaistic Abrahamite sect and to the temporary expulsion of the Jews in 1541. By the end of the 17th century there were 12,000 Jews in Prague. The number and importance of the Jews in the Czech territories increased constantly. This is seen in literature where German-speaking Czech Jews played a leading role. Kafka, Brod, Erfel and Baum are just a few examples. The German occupation during the Second World War exterminated Czech Jewry but left synagogues and ritual objects that are sad reminders of a glorious past. Our seminar will visit historical sites in Prague, Terezin, Kolin, Polna, Trebic, Boskovic, Holesov, Brno and Breznice.
THE JEWS OF BUKHARA
The seminar on the Jews of Bukhara brings us to the heart of Central Asia to study the history and culture of a community that belonged to a branch of Jewry that has been very much ignored for centuries. The Jews of Bukhara belong to the Persian-speaking Jews who had been in the sphere of influence of Babylonian Jewry from Biblical times to the late Geonic period. The seminar will examine their origins, their religious, cultural and communal life and their life in periods of efflorescence and discrimination. Under Sassanid, Mongol and Muslim rule, Bukharan Jews created their own customs and lore, while at times suffering severe setbacks, including forcible conversions. The last period under Russian and communist regime is studied on the basis of little known sources. While visiting the exotic and picturesque sites in Khiva, Bukhara, Sharizabz, Samarkand and Tashkent, we will walk through the Jews' Mahallas (Quarters) and see their synagogues of the past and at present. We will uncover the hardly known history, culture, literature, customs, costumes, and music of a Jewish community that has been on the periphery of the Jewish world. The seminar will allow us to feel, taste and enjoy a Jewish experience that belongs to the past.
THE JEWS OF CHINA
The first Jewish settlers in China were Persian-speaking Jews who arrived in Kaifeng in the ninth or tenth century. These Jews lived in China for centuries in almost total isolation from the Jewish world. They maintained their Jewish identity while integrating in the social, economic and political life of the region. Until the middle of the nineteenth century the Jews of Kaifeng maintained their Jewish identity and their organized communal life. Their descendants today still identify themselves as Jews. A second Jewish Diaspora in China came into being in the middle of the nineteenth century when British and other European powers established their foothold and zones of influence in China. The Jews who settled in Hong Kong and Shanghai were "Baghdadi" Jews from Iraq and India who succeeded in founding powerful financial enterprises. Their synagogues and homes reflect wealth and grandeur. The community of "Baghdadi" Jews, such as the Sassoons and the Kadoories, remained a dominant factor in continental China until the Second World War, The third Jewish Diaspora in China is of Russian origin. Russian Jews who fled from Russia following the 1904-5 War and the 1917 Revolution settled mostly in Shanghai and conducted a very intensive Jewish life. Refugees fleeing from the Nazi persecutions formed the fourth Jewish Diaspora in China. These refugees established communities in Harbin, Tientsin and Shanghai where they were able to create a very intensive Jewish life. Under the communist regime of Mao Tse Tung the three Jewish Diasporas in continental China disappeared. During our seminar we will visit the sites of Jewish importance in Kaifeng, Shanghai, Harbin and Hong Kong. Our visits in Beijing and Xian offer us a spectacular look and insight into the culture and history of China. The seminar deals with the history of a great civilization in the most important and ancient culture in the Far East.
THE JEWS AT THE EDGE OF THE EARTH
The Jews of England in Medieval and Modern Times
Our seminar on Anglo-Jewry consists of two distinct chapters in the history of the Jews in England. The distinction is made clear in the series of lectures offered daily, but is hardly achieved in the itinerary where the medieval and the modern are intertwined. The first chapter is the story of medieval English Jewry whose origin was in Normandy subsequent to the conquest of the island by William the Conquerer in 1066. The happy beginnings following the Norman conquest ended tragically with the expulsion of 1290, the first expulsion of the Jews from any European land. During a little more than two centuries the Jews of England formed their own communities scattered throughout England, influenced deeply the country’s economy, and maintained their own social, religious, educational institutions. Their scholars were part of the Tossafists of Franco-Germany. The second chapter tells the return of the Jews to England as Crypto-Jews who returned to Judaism in the seventeenth century. Following the Spanish and Portuguese Jews, immigrants from central and eastern Europe brought their Ashkenazi culture to the edge of the world where Jewish immigrants from different backgrounds and eras created a Jewish community in search of its identity. A special historical experience awaits us in Cambridge where we visit the Cairo Geniza.
THE JEWS OF GEORGIA
Their History and Culture
According to a tradition of Georgian Jews they are descendants of the Ten Tribes exiled by the Assyrians in the 8th century BCE. The first Jews, however, must have come in the early centuries of the CE when Judeo-Christians converted the local people to Christianity. The Jews of Georgia came from Byzantium, Persia and Armenia. After its conquest by the Arabs, the county remained Christian. A Jewish sect that rejected some major Jewish laws and practices emerged in the 9th century. At that time the Jews of Georgia had as their neighbors the Khazars. In the course of time Georgian Jews became serfs after loosing their property. The Russian occupation of Georgia in the second half of the 19th century opened a new chapter in the history of Georgian Jewry. They were now in contact with the Jews of Russia. From then on Georgian Jewry was under the impact of the developments and processes that prevailed in the territories dominated by Russia. Georgian Jews took a leading role in the struggle for the right to immigrate to Israel. The seminar will cover the fascinating story of a very special Jewish community.
THE JEWS OF GREECE THROUGH THE AGES
JEWISH LIFE UNDER HELLENES, BYZANTINES, TURKS AND GREEKS
Our seminar presents the uninterrupted history of more than two thousand five hundred years of Jewish life in the Greek mainland and islands. The meeting and clash between Judaism and Hellenism, between Romaniot and Sefardi Jewry, between Jews and their Greek or Turkish neighbors is a central theme of the seminar. Some of the most exciting chapters of Jewish history are covered in lectures on Hellenistic Judaism, Romaniot Jewry and the Shabbetai Zvi Movement. A symposium with local experts concentrates on clothes, ritual objects and music of Greek Jewry. In addition, visits to ancient, medieval and modern Jewish sites present a panoramic and penetrating view of the history of the Jews in Greece. Among sites which will be visited are the most ancient synagogue of the diaspora in Delos and a synagogue of an almost vanished community of Romaniot Jews in Chalkis.
Tradition and Conflict
The seminar surveys the history of the Jews in Hungary from medieval to modern times. Royal protection and intensive economic activities from the 11th century onwards caused hatred and antagonism followed by blood-libels and expulsions. Even in these periods of oppression centers of Torah study flourished in Hungary. Under Ottoman rule the position of the Jews improved immensely. Some Sephardi Jews from the Balkans settled in Ottoman Hungary as they were attracted by these favorable conditions. In modern times the number of Jews increased constantly and in the post-emancipation period they were found in large numbers in many professional, financial and literary fields. Haskalah and Reform were opposed vehemently by the Orthodox and Hassidim. German, Yiddish and Hungarian speaking Jews added to this internal strife. Political anti-semitism grew in strength as the Jews integrated more deeply in Hungarian life. Hungary became the stronghold of the anti-Zionist Neture Karta and also the birth place of Herzl, the founder of political Zionism. The country offers a fascinating example of fully integrated Jews, Zionist enthusiasts and extreme Orthodox. Whatever their identity was the Holocaust made no distinction between them and the Second World War proved disastrous for Hungarian Jewry. Their partial survival after the Holocaust is the story of a miraculous revival.
The Jewish community of India is one of the oldest in the Diaspora. Over the many centuries of its existence, emerged a unique culture reflecting the special interaction the Jews experienced with the multicultural and diverse population of India. The origins of Jewish settlement in India are however obscure. Local traditions and legends point at the Biblical period, associating the first Jews on Indian soil with the seamen of King Solomon, the Book of Esther, or the lost Ten Tribes. As Indian Jewry has been always divided into separate groups, each one has its own story and characteristics. The oldest group is that of the Cochini Jews, who identify their location in South India with the mythical Biblical region of Ophir, famous in ancient times for its fine gold and silver. The second and largest community to this day, is that of the Bene Israel, who lived primarily in Bombay, Pune, Karachi (now in Pakistan), and Ahmadabad. The Bene Israel likewise believe their presence in India is more than 2000 years old, and they have their own dialect, known as Judeo-Marathi, in which they also printed their liturgical and other books. The third major group in the last centuries was that of the Baghdadi Jews, who settled in selected towns in India during the British imperial era, arriving not only from Baghdad but from other towns in Iraq, as well as Syria, Yemen, Iran and Turkey. Mention should be made of two additional groups that emerged publicly in recent times, the Bene Menashe and Bene Ephraim, who associate themselves with the tribes of ancient Israel and revive Jewish practices. While interacting peacefully and nearly with no any anti-Semitic phenomena, each of these groups developed its own flavor of Jewish life, which we will explore in this tour.
JEWISH LIFE IN LITHUANIA
Jews settled in the territory of modern Lithuania in the 15th and 16th centuries. In the 17th century Vilnius (Vilne in Yiddish) became already one of the most significant Jewish communities in the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth and an important center of Torah study. In the 18th century it was home of the Vilna Gaon – the major Torah scholar of modern times. Due to the influence of the Gaon, local Jews did not accept Hasidism and in the 19th century a distinct version of Judaism, usually named Lithuanian or Litvaks’, appeared. It was based on a special way of Torah study and the “Lithuanian yeshivas,” which in the 20th century moved to Israel and the USA, the most important centers of religious learning up to today. In 1795 Lithuania was annexed by the Russian Empire and became a part of the Pale of Settlement. Major Jewish emigration from the area in the late 19th century were directed to the UK and South Africa. The Lithuanian Republic gained independence in 1918 and it was the only country where Jewish National Autonomy existed in practice. In 1940 it was occupied by the USSR and regained its independence only in 1991. During the Holocaust the absolute majority of Lithuanian Jews perished. We visited Vilnius, Kaunas, Slobodka, Kedainiai, Siauliai, Alytus, Degsne, Trakai and Ziezmanai, towns with impressive remains of synagogues and other vestiges of once flourishing Jewish life.
JEWISH LIFE IN MOROCCO
Jewish life in Morocco began in antiquity and legends relate about the settlement of Jews in Biblical times. Epigraphic evidence shows the existence of Jews in Morocco in the early centuries of the Common Era. Jews lived there with the Berbers long before the Muslim Arabs conquered North Africa. They succeeded in converting several Berber tribes and in establishing a powerful community. Under Arab rule Jewish life underwent ups and downs. A period of decline starting in the 14th century was followed by a flourishing era with the arrival of the Jews expelled from Spain. An exciting and interesting meeting of the local and the Sephardi Jews led to religious and cultural clashes and symbiosis. Morocco became a center of mysticism and a haven for the conversos. While Jews lived in their special quarters, the mellahs, they developed a rich and fascinating way of life. From the 18th century European influence affected deeply Jewish life and with the establishment of the French protectorate the Jews of Morocco underwent a serious transformation. Our visit will concentrate on the remains of a fascinating Jewish past besides sites of general historical interest. The seminar will examine the history, religion, culture, folklore and customs of Moroccan Jewry.
JEWISH LIFE IN NORTHERN MOROCCO
Jewish life in Morocco began in Late Antiquity and legends relate about the settlement of Jews in Biblical times. Epigraphic evidence and some artifacts show the existence of Jews in Morocco in the
early centuries of the Common Era. Jews lived there with the Berbers long before the Muslim Arabs conquered North Africa. They succeeded in converting several Berber tribes and in establishing a powerful community. Under Arab rule, Jewish life underwent ups and downs. A period of decline starting in the 14th century was followed by a flourishing era with arrival of the Jews expelled from Spain. An exciting and interesting meeting of the local and the Sephardi Jews led to religious and cultural clashes and symbiosis. Morocco became a center of mysticism and a haven for the conversos.
In northern Morocco in particular the Sephardim staunchly preserved many of the spiritual and
material traditions which they brought from Spain, as can be observed even in recent times.
While Jews lived in their special quarters, the mellahs, they developed a rich and fascinating way of life. From the 18th century European influence affected deeply Jewish life and with the establishment of the French protectorate the Jews of Morocco underwent a serious transformation. Our visit will concentrate on the remains of a fascinating Jewish past of the major communities in northern Morocco besides sites of general historical interest. The seminar will examine the history, religion, spiritual visual and material culture, folklore and customs of Moroccan Jewry.
MOROCCO / THE SAHARA
In this tour we will put emphasis on the little known Berber-speaking Jewish communities of the Atlas mountains, as well as explore selected Sephardi communities who settled centuries later in the large towns of Morocco. Legends relate about the settlement of Jews in North Africa in Biblical times. However epigraphic evidence shows the existence of Jews in the early centuries of the Common Era, when the Mediterranean coast of Morocco was part of the Roman province of Africa. Jews lived there with the Berbers long before the Muslim Arabs conquered North Africa, and they succeeded in converting several Berber tribes and in establishing a powerful community. Under Arab rule Jewish life underwent ups and downs. A period of decline starting in the 14th century was followed by a flourishing era with the arrival of the Jews expelled from Spain. An exciting and interesting meeting of the local and the Sephardi Jews led to religious and cultural clashes and symbiosis. Morocco became a center of mysticism and a haven for the conversos. While Jews lived in their special quarters, the mellahs, they developed a rich and fascinating way of life. From the 18th century European influence affected deeply Jewish life and with the establishment of the French protectorate the Jews of Morocco underwent a serious transformation. Our visit will concentrate on the remains of Jewish life among the Berbers in the Atlas mountains vis-a-vis the major urban communities besides sites of general historical interest. The seminar will examine the history, religion, culture, visual folklore and customs of the various sections of Moroccan Jewry.
THE JEWS OF THE NETHERLANDS AND ENGLAND
The return to Judaism of New Christians, whose Iberian ancestors were forcibly converted to Catholicism, is one of the two topics of our seminar in the Netherlands and England. The fascinating story of the reestablishment of Jewish communities in Western Europe since the medieval expulsions will be thoroughly studied during our visit to the most important localities of Jewish interest. While in England we shall study the history of medieval Anglo-Jewry and visit places related to Jewish life between 1066 and 1290. Our seminar covers all aspects of Jewish life of a relatively little known Jewish community in the Middle Ages from the arrival of the Jews with William the Conqueror until the expulsion in 1290. The second part of our seminar in England concentrateson the establishment of the congregations of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews in the seventeenth century and the communal, religious and social life of these Sephardi Jews of converso origin.
THE JEWS OF PIEDMONT AND LOMBARDY
The trip is devoted to the history and culture of the Jews in two regions of northern Italy, Piedmont and Lombardy. These areas are a meeting point between Italy, Germany, France, Provence and Spain. Piedmont, which was part of the Duchy of Savoy from 1713, attracted settlers who escaped persecution and oppression in neighboring countries from the fourteenth Century onwards. Some of the Piedmontese communities preserved, for generations, their customs and liturgy that had long disappeared in their country of origin. The remaining, but often completely abandoned synagogues, are beautiful pieces of art, little known to the Jewish world. There is historic evidence of a Jewish presence in the Lombardy region dating back to the twelfth century. Although there were never large numbers of Jewish settlers in the Duchy of Milan, important cultural and religious centers emerged. Jews were allowed to settle in the region on condition that they would give loans to the local Christian population. Lombardy also became a successful center of Hebrew printing. The lively Jewish community was able to establish beautiful synagogues of which many remain. While in Italy we stay in Turin and Milan and visit the many charming nearby villages where the Jews had lived.
THE JEWS OF PORTUGAL
The tragic story of Portuguese Jewry from the earliest times to the forcible conversion of 1497 and beyond is the theme of this study tour of the Jews of Portugal. The itinerary includes the main localities and remnants of Jewish interest which enable us to reconstruct Jewish life in medieval Portugal and crypto-Jewish life for five centuries. Daily lectures survey various aspects of Jewish history in Portugal including the origins of Portuguese Jewry, communal and social life, the Jews in the service of the crown, cultural and religious life, science and literature, Hebrew books from Portugal, the arrival of Castilian Jews after 1492, Spanish and Portuguese Jewry between expulsion and conversion, exodus and flight, the Portuguese Inquisition and auto-da-fe, crypto-Jews from 1497 to 2000, and the Portuguese diaspora in the east and west. The seminar examines the fascinating chapters in Jewish history, the life of a community that reflects heroism, loyalty, martyrdom and suffering.
THE JEWS OF PROVENCE
A Stronghold of Jewish Culture, Mysticism and Philosophy
The beginnings of Provençal Jewry go back to antiquity when Jews settled in the first province conquered by Rome outside Italy. The Jews of Provence belonged to the communities that were in the sphere of influence of the Center in Israel. They maintained their original Jewish culture between the two major centers of Jewish life in the Middle Ages: Sepharad and Ashkenaz. While Provence was the birth place of Kabbalah, it also developed into a center of the Serphardi type of Jewish culture, combining Jewish studies, Hebrew language and Jewish philosophy with sciences and medicine. In Provence the different trends met and clashed and a series of controversies tore apart the Jews. The seminar will examine the characteristics of a unique Jewish culture that came to an abrupt end and for centuries was almost totally unknown in the Jewish world. The concluding session will refer to the Popes' Jews who remained until the French Revolution in an inland enclosure as the only Jewish remnants in Western Europe after a long series of expulsions.
THE JEWS OF RUSSIA
For centuries Jews were not permitted to live in Russia. It was only with the annexation of parts from Poland-Lithuania in the late XVIIIth century that a significant number of Jews came to live under Russian rule in what was called “The Pale of Settlement”. The number of Jews grew steadily although under the Czarist regime they were subjected throughout the XIXth century to a series of persecutions. The most painful and tragic calamity was the conscription of Jewish youngsters for 25 years. There were attempts to impose on them educational frameworks that were designed to cause assimilation. Jewish culture and scholarship developed despite the persecutions and even the Haskalah in Russia never abandoned Jewish culture. The pogroms in 1881 caused the emigration of many Jews and thus began a shift of East European Jews to the West. The First World War and the 1917 Revolution changed the course of Jewish history in Russia. A process of assimilation and persecutions under Stalin ended with dissolution of the Soviet Union and the mass immigration of Russian Jews to Israel and elsewhere. The revival of Jewish studies is the result of the changes in Russia. We will be visiting Jewish and general sites in Moscow and St. Petersburg where we will see exhibits from the famous collections of Guenzburg and Firkovich.
THE JEWS OF THE TWO SICILIES
From Antiquity to the Middle Ages
The seminar on the Jews of the Two Sicilies is divided into two parts. The first part will concentrate on the southern Italy, on the regions of Apulia and Campania where Jews lived from antiquity till the end of the Middle Ages. Our study of the history of the Jews in southern Italy will take us to Bari, Trani, Venosa, Pompeii and Naples where we will visit sites of Jewish interest and see the most important relics of the Jewish past. The second part of our seminar will take place in Sicily where we will visit the Jewish quarters, Jewish sites and remains, ancient and medieval monuments in Palermo, Caltabellotta, Agrigento, Agira and Siracusa. Our seminar will reveal the little known or almost forgotten cultural heritage of communities in southern Italy and Sicily that have long ceased to exist and their memory has almost faded away.
SOUTHERN ITALY - PUGLIA AND CAMPANIA
The seminar on the Jews of Southern Italy will concentrate on the regions of Puglia and Campania where Jews lived from antiquity till the end of the Middle Ages. Our study of the history of the Jews in Southern Italy will take us to Lecce, Otranto, Oria, Brindisi, Bari, Trani, Taranto, Matera, Venosa, Lavello, Pompeii, Ercolano and Naples where we will visit sites of Jewish interest and see the most important relics of the Jewish past. Our seminar will reveal the little known or almost forgotten cultural heritage of communities in Southern Italy that have long ceased to exist and their memory has almost faded away. We will uncover little known chapters in ancient Jewish history that are essential for a proper understanding of communities that would emerge and rise to prominence elsewhere in Europe.
SPANISH JEWRY: FROM SETTLEMENT TO EXPULSION
The Jews of Andalusia and Castile
This travel seminar focuses on the Jews of the Iberian Peninsula from Roman times until the Expulsion and concentrates on the great contributions of Spanish Jewry to our religion and culture. Lectures cover the unique position of the Jews, their rich cultural and religious achievements, their literary and scientific work, their political and economic endeavors, and their suffering under the Inquisition and final expulsion or conversion. Lectures provide insight into the life of Muslims and Christians as well as the Jews in Spain. Among places to be visited are Seville, Cordova, Granada, Madrid, Toledo, Segovia and Avila.
THE JEWS OF SLOVAKIA
Our seminar in Slovakia covers the country from west to east and from north to south with emphasis on localities where Jewish life flourished in the past and where important Jewish remains have survived. In the course of twelve days, we cover a history of more than half a millennium of Jewish life which is still little known. Despite Hungarian and Moravian Jewish influence, Slovak Jewry has retained its own unique character. Jewish tradition, defended by scholars of the caliber of the Hatam Sofer, and reform changes introduced by supporters of modernity and emancipation clashed in Slovakia and split its Jewry. Our trip is an attempt to penetrate into the depth of the history of a Jewish community which has attracted little attention of scholars and has suffered a very savage attack during the Holocaust. The tragedy of the Holocaust is in bitter contrast to the beautiful and peaceful countryside we visit.
THE JEWS OF TURKEY
FROM CONSTANTINOPLE TO ISTANBUL
Jews have lived in Asia Minor from antiquity to modern times without interruption. As political dominion changed hands, Jewish life underwent transformation. Under Greek, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Turkish rule, Jewish life changed external characteristics while retaining the basic ingredients which ensured Jewish continuity throughout the ages. Hellenistic and Byzantine Jews, Ashkenazi and Italian Jews, Spanish and Portuguese Jews have all contributed their share to a history of a two thousand year old community that was a bridge between east and west, north and south. Major Jewish monuments and important Hellenistic, Byzantine and Turkish sites illustrate the fascinating history of a community that has played an important role in shaping the course of Jewish history. The seminar examines the most important aspects of Jewish life in Asia Minor during the past two thousand years.
THE JEWS OF THE GRAND DUCHY OF TUSCANY
The seminar is dedicated to the history and culture of the Jews in the Italian region that is known today as Tuscany and in the past the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Although our information about the presence of Jews in the area goes back to the 6th century, we know little about Jewish life in Tuscan lands in the early Middle Ages. However, we know that several founders of the Ashkenazi communities in the 9th and 10th centuries came from Lucca where there was an important yeshivah in the 9th century. Franco-German Jewish ritual and tradition owe much to the scholars of Lucca. Visiting the important sites of Jewish interest, we will study the cultural, religious, social, economic and communal life of the Jews in Tuscany from the earliest until modern times.
Visiting synagogues and ghettos, we will attempt to reconstruct Jewish life in places where Jews hardly exist any more. As Jewish communities in Tuscany grew and developed, they created institutions and enterprises that influenced world Jewry. The impact of Tuscan Jews on the religious, cultural and economic life of the Jews in Italy and on communities throughout the world will be studied thoroughly. The lectures will present the account and sights of the Jewish past which we will explore in Pitigliano, Sorano, Sovana, Siena, Monte San Savino, Arezzo, San Gimignano, Firenze, Prato, Pistoia, Pisa and Livorno.