Reembracing The Lachrymose Theory Of Jewish History
Where: Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies, Columbia University
511 Fayerweather Hall, 1180 Amsterdam Ave.
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In his multi-volume social and religious history of the Jews, Salo Baron, one of the most influential Jewish historians of the 20th century, decried how Jewish history had been told and retold as an endless tale of woe. Instead, Baron stressed that, in the diaspora, Jews did not necessarily suffer more than other members of the societies in which they resided, and often lived creatively within Christian and Islamic lands. At the Annual Norman E. Alexander Lecture in Jewish Studies, Benjamin Gampel will explain how Baron’s claims about the Jews grew out of the social and religious landscape of the early twentieth century Europe. Gampel will argue, based on his understanding of medieval Jewish history, that a newer understanding of the lachrymose history of the Jews could well be seen as an appropriate way to appreciate the saga of this minority people and be of importance, as well, to the social and religious challenges facing contemporary Jewry.