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Jewish History Department

Our primary goal in teaching Jewish History is to help students develop a strong Jewish identity and an appreciation of the rich texture of their Jewish heritage. A secondary goal is to contextualize and supplement the textual studies of other Judaic classes as a way of helping students understand the development of Jewish ideas across generations.

Tracking: Jewish History classes are not tracked.

As of September, 2016, students will be offered a variety of Jewish History electives in grades 9 - 11, and will be required to take Modern Jewish History and Zionism in the senior year.

Possible elective offerings include:

-American Jewish History
-Israel Advocacy
-Jewish-Christian Relations in History
-Jewish Literature Through Historical Lens
-Medieval Jewish History
-Modern Jewish History and Zionism

Modern Jewish History and Zionism

In the first semester of Modern Jewish History, students will study the political, religious, and social dynamics that brought European Jews into the world of modernity.  In their studies of Eastern Europe, they will begin by examining the emergence of Hasidut and the Misnaggedic responses to that movement. They will then learn about the politics of nineteenth-century Russia that shaped so much of the Jewish experience there.  In their foray into West European History, they will encounter the influence of the Enlightenment on French and German Jews.  This will include the questions of what it meant for countries to consider giving Jewish citizenship for the first time, and what it meant for Jews to start living as full citizens of a modern country.  In this semester, the students will also focus on the emergence of modern anti-Semitism as well as selected topics within the Shoah.
The second semester of this course will be devoted to Zionism.  Students will study the origins of the movement from within the European Jewish context of the previous semester, followed by its political and philosophical progression throughout the first half of the twentieth century.  They will then have the opportunity to explore modern Israeli history, with a focus on developments over the past 67 years as well as current events in Israel.  Zionist education is a core mission at Ma'ayanot, and we are proud to offer a robust course of study in that area.

Medieval Jewish History

Students in the ninth grade study Medieval Jewish History, focusing on the Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jewish experiences during that period. This course begins by looking at the Jews under Islam, turns comparatively to the Jews under Christian rule, and culminates with the early modern Jewish communities that emerged in the wake of the Spanish Expulsion.