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Eyewitness to Jewish History

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Eyewitness to Jewish History

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Eyewitness to Jewish History
By Rabbi Benjamin Blech
John Wiley & Sons, Inc: (2004)
ISBN: 0-471-46233-0

Reviewed by Anna Dogole - October 28, 2004

Rabbi Benjamin Blech's phenomenal book: Understanding Judaism: The Basics of Deed and Creed provided a concise, readable, and authoritative overview of Jewish religious law and practices. In his new book, Eyewitness to Jewish History, he has crafted a book that provides a concise and intimate peek at Jewish history from the Biblical period through to the present. Covering topics ranging from the destruction of the Temples and the beginning of the Diaspora to the Holocaust and the birth of the modern state of Israel Eyewitness to Jewish History covers many of the major events, and figures such as Abraham, Moses Montefiore, Rabbi Akiva, and Alfred Dreyfus, in Jewish history. While Understanding Judaism presented an overview of the religious side of Judaism, in Eyewitness to Jewish History Rabbi Blech completes the picture by illustrating the social and cultural side of Judaism. The end result is that he proves that the cultural and religious aspects of Judaism are inseparable, with each being but two parts of the whole.

In Eyewitness to Jewish History, Rabbi Blech tells the story of the Jewish people through the words of the people who lived through the events that are chronicled in this book. From biblical passages to excerpts from wills, letters, legal documents, and essays, this book provides a personal glimpse into Jewish history. The vignettes are divided into six, chronological categories:
  1. The Biblical Period: 2000-538 B.C.E.
  2. The Second Temple Period: 515 B.C.E. - 70 C.E.
  3. The First Millennium: 70 - 1000 C.E.
  4. Late Medieval Times: 1000-1700s
  5. The Age of Emancipation: 1700-1800s
  6. Modern Times: The Twentieth Century to the Present
Readers will find that this book serves as a general introduction to Jewish history and culture. It will also amaze readers, who are not already familiar with the staying power of the Jews, just how tenuous life was for the Jews through many periods throughout time. Despite these hardships, and the persecution that they suffered, the Jews have maintained a continuous connection with their past. More amazing, they have survived, time and time again, when facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Eyewitness to Jewish History helps to explain how the Jews managed to maintain their ethnic identity and how and why they remained true to their religious beliefs. Eyewitness to Jewish History tells an uplifting and amazing story that shows the true faith and spirit of the Jewish people.

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