“The essence of Jewish history is diversity.”. The wait was worth it. There were few howlers, and this in itself is an achievement for someone who is not an academic specialist in the field. It is based on Schama's book of the same title, which is in two … The Story of the Jews, Volume I: Finding the Words, 1000 BCE-1492 CE. He observed how social and economic movements in one region could lift the Jews, while in another they created circumstances that doomed them. How could Jews emerge from the ghetto without losing their distinctiveness? It was broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC Two in September 2013 and in the United States on PBS in March and April 2014. Get the New Statesman\'s Morning Call email. This website uses cookies to help us give you the best experience when you visit our website. But the upcoming PBS series ‘The Story of the Jews’ is … Drawing on original scholarship and Schama's own family history, this is a story that is at once deeply historical and utterly contemporary, … According to the Israeli historian Moshe Rosman, “Postmodernity has led to the emergence of a new, as yet not fully articulated meta-history that can be termed ‘multicultural’.” The unity of the Jewish story has been replaced by a multitude of local histories in which Jews mingle with their surroundings, morphing through varied degrees of hybridity. Sir Simon Michael Schama CBE FBA FRSL (/ ˈ ʃ æ m ə /; born 13 February 1945) is an English historian specialising in art history, Dutch history, Jewish history and French history. The women appear much later, in an eccentric argument based on “some evidence” that as well as figuring prominently in business, they wore prayer shawls and participated in services. Then, thinkers such as Mendelssohn confronted the challenge of Enlightenment rationalism and the possibilities offered by the French Revolution. A Hegelian, he believed that Jewish history was a progression from tribalism towards universalism. Until the Messiah came, they would be suspended in an eternal present framed by exile and suffering. He begins his narrative not with Abraham and the patriarchs but with a community of soldiers and their families residing on the island of Elephantine in the Nile, around 475BC. Is there promise in a global plastics pact? From his vantage point on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, capitalist urban modernity offered the Jews the most enticing prospect. Belonging: The Story of the Jews 1492-1900 is the second volume of a two-volume work on the history of the Jews by renowned British author Simon Schama. The first histories composed by practitioners of the Jewish Enlightenment were intended to counter this disdain and justify Jewish claims to equality. Schama’s look at the historicity of the Bible opens with a digression on Victorian explorers, cartographers and painters who depicted the Holy Land. The best children’s books for Christmas 2020, NS Recommends: New books from David Sedaris, Margaret Atwood, Iain Dale and Robin Turner, How Jürgen Klopp became the Mersey messiah. Nor were Jews the passive objects of political upheaval. Dubnow’s vision earned the scorn of Zionists. The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words (1000 BCE - 1492) by Simon Schama Paperback $22.40 Only 1 left in stock (more on the … At the same time, he declares that "the 'minimalist' view of the Bible as wholly fictitious, and unhooked from historical reality, may be as much of a mistake as the biblical literalism it sought to supersede. That is the point. Simon Schama is University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University. From the beginning, “To be Jewish was to be bookish.” The cardo (or main street) in Hellenised Jerusalem was “chapter one in a long history of Jewish shopping”. “Judaism as it was being remade was, in some respects, actually constituted from images almost as much as texts.” In this crucial respect, it was linked to, not separated from, the culture around it. Everyday low prices and free delivery on eligible orders. Zionism spawned a school of historians who characterised the diaspora as an entirely negative experience, a miasma of powerlessness. A terrifically moving rendition of how Jewish populations in Mainz and Worms were annihilated during the First Crusade, in a chapter puzzlingly titled “Women of Ashkenaz”, opens without any explanation of how Jews got there. Needless to say, there is a clutch of guilt-tripping Yiddisher mommas. It follows by three years the publication of The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words 1000 BCE. The first effort that Jews made to write Jewish history, in a manner recognisable to us as history, was an arresting statement about the Jewish present and, quite explicitly, the Jewish future. Unlike Dubnow, Baron did not regard politics as the motor of change in Jewish history. 496, £ As Arthur Hertzberg, my teacher at Columbia, put it: “Jewish history became a question of how to enter modernity and still have the kids come home for Friday-night dinner.”, So what is the agenda of Jewish history in a postmodern world? David Cesarani is the Research Professor in History at Royal Holloway, University of London, This article appears in the 09 September 2013 issue of the New Statesman, Britain alone. Listen to the full Desert Island Books podcast episode with Sir Simon Schama, here He is perhaps best known for his BBC series, A History of Britain, and, more recently, The Story of the Jews. [9], "Simon Schama Jewish history book up for literary prize", "Making a history of UK Jews for the BBC was so daunting, reveals Simon Schama", "Belonging: The Story of the Jews, 1492–1900", "The Story of the Jews with Simon Schama", "The Jews, a History in So Many, Many Words", "Simon Schama's Jewish history is immensely erudite – and compulsively readable", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Story_of_the_Jews_(book)&oldid=962727559, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 15 June 2020, at 18:14. However, this liveliness comes at a price. Simon Dubnow, a Russianeducated scholar, turned his back on the universalistic dream cherished by Graetz. They were agents of change, if only by migrating in search of a better life. Well, in telling the story of the Jews, Schama has produced two books already – Finding the Words , and most recently, Belonging . Don’t expect to find the prophet Samuel, Saul, his kingly creation, or the tales of David and Solomon. Jews first become Jews, in Schama's telling of their story, by a feat of willpower. The Story of the Jews, BBC Two, review. These people observed many practices that we associate with Judaism. Brilliantly exploiting the fragmentary sources, Schama evokes their everyday life as well as their beliefs. Schama is not writing a conventional history of the Jews. › Planning for a pay rise – could 'forward guidance' work for Britain’s low paid workers? Simon Schama is University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University. Schama fits perfectly into this mould. Simon Schama. The first Jews were “obsessed with law and property, money-minded, fashion-conscious, much concerned with the making and breaking of marriages”. Dubnow had emerged from the Pale of Settlement, where Yiddish-speaking Jews comprised a majority in numerous districts. 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