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Manual for Faculty
Unit 5: The Search for Deliverance
(1492 to 1789)
Introduction Teaching This Unit Directions to Students Bookmarks
Directions to Students
(From the Study Guide)

Before Viewing the Show

Examine map 7 in the Study Guide and note where Jews resided after the expulsions from Western Europe.

Watch for . . . and Think About

Note the many Sephardic and Ashkenazic synagogues and their variety of architectural styles. Do these buildings evoke contrasting moods?

Observe the beautiful city of Venice and the ghetto, the separate quarter where the Jews were ordered to live. How might it feel living in such a closed neighborhood?

Watch for the excerpt of the Lessing play that appears at the end of the show. What do you think is the main point of the scene?

While Reading the Study Guide and Source Reader
Look for the following:
  • How the Jews responded to the tragedy of the Spanish expulsion. How did they interpret their historical experiences?
  • The Jews' interaction with Italian Renaissance culture. How did the exchange of ideas affect Jewish and Christian thought?
  • How and why Jewish life declined in Renaissance Italy. Trace the change in Martin Luther's attitude towards the Jews. The areas of the Ottoman Empire in which the Spanish exiles settled. Safed in Israel was known for its scholars and mystics. How did the Safed resident Isaac Luria view the world? See how Luria's ideas led to the Shabbetean and Frankist movements.
  • How Polish Jewry was economically, communally, and culturally distinguished. What brought about the disaster that befell this most populous Jewish community? Note Israel Ba'al Shem Tov's prescription for this troubled Jewry. Identify Hasidim, mitnagdim, and zaddik.
  • The difficulties conversos encountered upon returning to Judaism, even when they lived in tolerant Amsterdam.
  • The court Jews and Moses Mendelssohn. Were these people the vanguard of Jewish integration into Western European society?
After Viewing and Reading
  • Identify Samuel Usque and Solomon ibn Verga. How were their writings an attempt to console the Spanish and Portuguese Jews who now found themselves in exile?
  • Who was Pico della Mirandola? How did his relationship with Jews and Jewish texts reflect the contribution of the Jews to Renaissance civilization?
  • How would you compare the attitudes of sixteenth-century popes and Luther towards the Jews?
  • What effect did Shabbetai Zevi and the ideas of his followers have on the Jews of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries?
  • Why did the 1648 Cossack revolt lead to the murder of thousands of Jews?
  • What were the attitudes of Uriel da Costa and Barukh Spinoza towards Judaism? How did the Amsterdam authorities respond to these challenges?
Suggested Readings

Jacob Katz, Tradition and Crisis: Jewish Society at the End of the Middle Ages (Free Press, 1961)

Cecil Roth, A History of the Marranos (Jewish Publication Society of America, 1932)

Cecil Roth, The Jews in the Renaissance (Jewish Publication Society of America, 1950)

Solomon Schecter, "Safed in the Sixteenth Century: A City of Legists and Mystics," and Isadore Twersky, "The Shulhan Aruk: Enduring Code of Jewish Law," in Judah Goldin, ed., The Jewish Expression (Yale University Press, 1976)

Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, 3rd ed. (Schocken, 1954)

Gershom Scholem, Sabbatai Sevi: The Mystical Messiah 1626-76, trans. by R.J. Zwi Werblowsky (Princeton University Press, 1973)

Bernard Weinryb, The Jews of Poland: A Social and Economic History of the Jewish Community in Poland from 1100-1800 (Jewish Publication Society of America, 1973)

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