In the the Lands of Sultans, Kings, and Pharaohs: The Jewish Odyssey in Three Islamic Realms
"This hybrid series will take place online and in-person at the Merage JCC
Space for the in-person events is very limited
In our July series with Dr. David Mendelsohn, we journey through the rich and complex history of Jewish existence in three iconic Muslim realms: the grand Ottoman Empire, the enduring Monarchy of Morocco, and the ancient land of Egypt. Dr. Mendelsohn will provide an immersive exploration into how Jewish communities didn't merely survive, but flourished under the rule of the Sultans, Kings, and Pharaohs. With an emphasis on the fusion of faiths, culture, and enduring resilience, we'll delve into the dynamics of coexistence, adaptation, and prosperity, offering a nuanced perspective on these historical periods. Don't miss this opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the indelible imprint Jewish communities have left on these regions, shaping their diasporic narratives across centuries.
Thursday July 13th, 2023
In the Land of Sultans
In our July series' inaugural session, "In the Land of Sultans," we embark on a journey through time, tracing the unique trajectory of Jewish life in the imposing shadow of the Ottoman Empire. Navigating the backdrop of this extraordinary historical tapestry, we'll examine how a community, expelled from one empire—Spain—, found refuge and reinvented itself under another—Ottoman. In a period of great transformation, the Jewish community managed to flourish amidst the grandeur and authority of the Sultans. We will delve into the intricacies of this journey, investigating how the Jews fostered a distinctive cultural and social identity within the framework of this Islamic empire. We will unpack tales of survival and endurance, stories of unprecedented growth and contributions to the Ottoman society. This series will shine a light on an era characterized by a remarkable synthesis of religious diversity and cultural intermingling. It will bring into focus the unique Ottoman Jewish experience that resonates with a profound legacy of tolerance, coexistence, and resilience.
Thursday July 20th, 2023
Life in the Atlas Kingdom
In our second session, "Life in the Atlas Kingdom," we venture into the vibrant landscape of Morocco, immersing ourselves in a rarely told narrative of Jewish history - one where Jews were indigenous, living in concert with the Amazigh (Berber) population, centuries before Islam touched the North African shore. This installment takes us on a journey through the intricate chronicles of Jewish existence under the enduring Moroccan Monarchy. We'll unearth the trials, triumphs, and transformations of this vibrant Jewish community under the rule of Berber and Arab monarchs. This session illuminates the remarkable resilience and adaptation of Moroccan Jews to their evolving environment. It investigates their changing relationships with their homeland, their non-Jewish Moroccan neighbors, and their monarch. From epochs of tranquility and cooperation to times of tension, we will explore how this community not only survived but thrived. We'll delve into the rich tapestry of cultural fusion, exploring how Moroccan Jews have influenced, and been influenced by, Amazigh, Arab, and Islamic traditions. The narrative of Moroccan Jews stands as an extraordinary testament to adaptation, resilience, and cultural symbiosis.
Sundmay July 23rd, 2023
Between the Nile and the Pyramids
In our final session, "Between the Nile and the Pyramids," guided by Dr. David Mendelsohn, we'll uncover the timeless narratives of Jewish life in the mystical landscape of Egypt. Home to one of the oldest Jewish communities globally, Egypt offers a fascinating backdrop for exploring Jewish history, culture, and identity. In this session, we'll delve deep into the enigmatic story of Akhenaten, the Egyptian Pharaoh who is often considered the world's first monotheist. We'll explore his unique role in shaping religious thought and his potential influence on early Jewish monotheism. Next, we'll navigate the time-worn tales of Elephantine Island, nestled in the Nile River. This thriving Jewish community of the 5th century BCE stands as a testament to endurance and religious fervor, having constructed a temple modeled after the one in Jerusalem. We will excavate the stories of this island community, shedding light on how they forged a unique identity amidst the cultural intersections of ancient Egypt. We'll trace the community's journey through millennia, examining how Jews navigated life amidst Pharaohs, Islamic caliphates, and the shifting sands of modern society. From the ancient synagogues of Alexandria to their influential roles in Egypt's cosmopolitan culture, we'll illustrate how this community crafted a distinct Egyptian Jewish identity.
Sponsor: Community Scholar Program (CSP)