By Mark Kurlansky
In a selected Few, Mark Kurlansky explores the numerous the reason why Jews have again to Germany and Poland, and why Jews stay in Europe, how they've got controlled not just to proceed their lifestyle, yet to thrive and prosper. in the course of the lives of people either usual and recognized, Kurlansky indicates us the face of ecu Jewry - a face that could put on the scars of persecution, yet seems to be towards a greater destiny with desire and boundless decision.
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Extra info for A Chosen Few: The Resurrection of European Jewry
There, even after the ravages of Rome, Jews continued to live a religious life centered on the study and endless interpretation of their holy texts—the Bible and later the Mishnah, the midrashim, and liturgy. Such study required a profound understanding of the Hebrew language, which some clearly possessed and which many more aspired to achieve. This era would continue in force down to the fourth century CE and beyond. Scattered minorities, by contrast, soon find themselves at cul- tural and linguistic risk.
To guarantee its survival, this new Judaism had to be meticulously ratified and codified. Thanks to a series of relatively benevolent Roman emperors, life for Jews in the Holy Land regained a semblance of normality. But who could foresee what new calamities and dispersions might lie ahead? So the Sages began to create a written record of their teachings and practices. Collected in the land of Israel in the second and third centuries CE, that record included a voluminous code of religious practice (the Mishnah) and several anthologies of interpre- tation on the Torah (known as the Midrash).
Many con- gregations heard the weekly portions of the Torah in Greek, or at least with a running Greek translation. The second-century sage Shimon ben Gamliel taught that “the only language [other than Hebrew] that is permitted us for Torah scrolls is Greek” (Talmud Me- gillah 8b). , Israel). Could this grand Greek-Jewish culture have lasted? Maybe. But times changed. Most important, early Christianity made a pact with Hellenism. When Constantine embraced Christianity in 313 CE and moved his capital to the Greek-speaking eastern part of the Roman Empire, Hellenist Christians gained the upper hand.