Eye­wit­ness to Jew­ish History

Rab­bi Ben­jamin Blech
  • Review
By – September 28, 2012
Not­ed for pop­u­lar­iz­ing Jew­ish top­ics, the author, a rab­bi well-versed in his­to­ry as well as Jew­ish texts, has com­bined his spe­cial­ties in this inter­est­ing com­pi­la­tion of source mate­r­i­al. Begin­ning with the bib­li­cal peri­od and con­tin­u­ing through the two pow­er­ful influ­ences on Jew­ish his­to­ry in the 20th cen­tu­ry, the Holo­caust and the State of Israel, Blech has select­ed pri­ma­ry doc­u­ments to aug­ment his his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive. Chrono­log­i­cal­ly arranged, the sec­tions include the Sec­ond Tem­ple Peri­od, the first Mil­le­ni­um, Late Medieval Times, the Age of Eman­ci­pa­tion, and Mod­ern Times. Selec­tions from the Bible, the Tal­mud, Magna Car­ta, Eth­i­cal Wills, diaries and mem­oirs, as well as well-known lit­er­ary and archival sources, are intro­duced in Blech’s overview, which some­times may seem a bit ser­mon­ic. The book , a one-vol­ume dis­til­la­tion of mate­r­i­al relat­ing to Jew­ish his­to­ry, is use­ful for edu­ca­tors but can be enjoyed by a lay read­er­ship. It is sim­i­lar to the 1997 pub­li­ca­tion Under­stand­ing Jew­ish His­to­ry by Steven Bayme. Index.
Esther Nuss­baum, the head librar­i­an of Ramaz Upper School for 30 years, is now edu­ca­tion and spe­cial projects coor­di­na­tor of the Halachic Organ Donor Soci­ety. A past edi­tor of Jew­ish Book World, she con­tin­ues to review for this and oth­er publications.

Discussion Questions