Jewish History Book Group

Kolot Jewish History Book Group

Join your fellow Kolotniks in informal monthly reading and discussions. Inspired by our ignorance of Jewish history, we have formed this group to inform ourselves along with whoever wants to join us -- Jewish history definitely teaches that learning happens best in community. We want to understand Jewish history in a nonparochial way, to read our history as one that is both particular and profoundly interwoven with the peoples around us. The group is open to all  on a drop-in basis and welcomes newcomers, and there is no obligation to participate from one month to the next. All we ask is that you come having read the assigned reading. For more information about the group, contact Josh Rubin at or 917-494-2929.

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Our next meeting is Monday, January 23, at 7:30, at the home of Janet Price (call Janet (718-638-8884) or Josh (917-494-2929) for address and directions). We are going to discuss the second half (beginning with chapter 8) of Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did they Come From by William G. Dever, an excellent review of the archaeological and written record of the origins of the Israelite settlement in in the hills around Jerusalem and what is and is not documented about the Exodus story and conquest (if, indeed, it was a conquest at all). It is not a large book, so if you missed the last meeting, and want to join us for this discussion, there is time to read the whole book.  

In the first part of the book, which the group discussed at our November meeting. Dever marshalled the written and archaeological evidence that one needs to draw on to understand what did (or didn't ) happen during this period.  Janet prepared and unrolled for us a detailed timeline of both the "conquest" period and the period in which the Torah and the Deuteronomistic history (the next six books after Deuteronomy which offer a biblical take on the conquest period) were written. The latter part of Dever's book, which we will discuss in January, contains Dever's analysis of the current competing theories of how the Israelites came to settle the area.   

Looking ahead to February, we plan to begin reading Reassessing Jewish Life in Medieval Europe by Robert Chazan. The book focuses on 11th to 15th centuries and argues that things were not as bad for Jews in Northern Europe in this period as they became starting with the 16th century.   

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