Blog Post

30 January 2018

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE AND THE MAIN JEWISH HOLIDAYS

A) ORIGINS AND HISTORY OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE, ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE
• THE FIRST HEBREW (ABRAHAM): Descendant of Adam and Noah (Universal Flood)
• EXILE IN EGYPT: Abraham’s grandson, JACOB (later called Israel) and his children and grandchildren, go to Egypt because of the drought. Joseph (sold by his brothers as a slave) becomes the Prime Minister of Pharaoh, and therefore Egypt welcomes his family, but after a few years, the Egyptians enslave the Hebrews for more than 200 years. Until Moses releases them (after the 10 plagues) crossing the Red Sea and wandering 40 years through the Sinai desert (and a generation of free people is born)
• THE 10 COMMANDMENTS RECEIVED IN THE SINAI. THE TORAH: Moses climbs Mount Sinai (we have visited it!) where God gives him the Tablets of the Law with the 10 main commandments (and then he dictates 613 more detailed obligatory Jewish norms)
• THE CONQUEST OF CANAAN (THE PROMISED LAND): Moses dies at 120 years old (age considered “ideal” and that in the near future may be achieved) seeing Canaan from Mount Nevó (near Petra, now they call it Djabel Musa , the mount of Moses in Arabic), but the one who enters and conquere Cnaan is his assistant Yehoshua Bin Nun (Joshua), starting with the “oldest city in the world, JERICO” (today in the Palestinian zone, between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea ).
• THE 12 TRIBES OF THE Descendents OF JACOB (ISRAEL). They are the families of 10 children and 2 grandchildren of Jacob, and they settle in Canaan each in their area. The 10 of the North separated from the 2 of the south, in two kingdoms (Israel and Judea). Among the Canaanite peoples whose territory is conquered, there are the Philistines of Gaza, Edomites, Moabites, Etc. They are integrated into the new Israel.
• REIGN OF ISRAEL, JUDAH, THE JERUSALEM CAPITAL, FIRST TEMPLE. NEBUCHADNEZZAR: Until the 8th century BC, the kingdom of Israel prospered, with important Prophets (Jeremiah, Samuel, Elijah …), Judges (Deborah, Barak …) and Kings (Saul, David – founder of Jerusalem, Capital of Israel and then the site of the magnificent First Temple of Judaism, which was built by his son Solomon and many other later kings). This period ends first with the Assyrians – who exiled the 10 tribes of the north, whose traces are lost all over the world, and in the 6th century BC, the Babylonians (Nebuchadnezzar II) and destroy everything and exile the Jews from the southern kingdom, Judea, to Babel.
• FIRST EXILE TO BABYLON. RETURN (CYRUS) A HALF CENTURY LATER: The Persian King Cyrus frees them. But only 2 tribes and the priests (Levites) return
• THE RETURN OF ONLY 2 TRIBES (AND THE 10 LOST TRIBES): Judah and Benjamin returned, and from this tribe of Judah come Jesse, father of King David, and also forefather of Jesus Christ … and also of our family … The feast of Purim is celebrated to commemorate the return allowed by the king at the request of his beloved Jewish wife, Esther.
• SECOND TEMPLE (King Zerubbabel, after the return of Babylon, end of the 6th century BC). This is the temple that appears in the Gospels (New Testament) and lasts until the year 70 of our era, when the Romans destroyed it. This gives place to the fast of Tisha B’Av … date when both temples were destroyed (the first and the second)
• THE ASMONEOS, MATETIYAHO (MATIAS), JUDAH MACABEO: Leaders and heroes of the combats of Judea against the Assyrians (of Antioch) before the Roman wars. This history is the basis of the Feast of Jánuka.
• THE FIGURE OF JESUS ​​CHRIST (UNTIL HIS DEATH IN YEAR 33): For Judaism he was a Rabbi (of Kfar Najum or Caparnaum) – obviously Jewish, popular and leader of the movement against the Romans and against the Jewish “curia” (Sanhedrin and the priests). For the Muslims he was a prophet, and for the later Christian Religion, the Messiah and Son of God.
• THE DESTRUCTION OF THE II TEMPLE BY ROME (TITO, YEAR 70): General Tito besieges Judea and destroys the II Temple of Jerusalem, exiling almost all the Jewish people to the Roman Empire. After Masada conquest, and later the Battle of Bar Kochvá (2nd century)
• THE FINAL EXILE (UP TO THE NINETEENTH CENTURY AND THE FIRST YEARS OF THE TWENTIEST): The great exile was in the time of Titus and then in that of ADRIANO (2nd century) that culminated the exile of the great majority of the survivors. Rome eliminates the name of Judea and calls it Syria-Palestine (by the ancient Philistines who inhabited the Gaza area as part of the old Canaan). There was always a small Jewish colony in Sefad and Jerusalem.
• DIASPORA, PERSECUTION, THE INQUISITION, THE POGROMS, THE HOLOCAUST: The history of almost 2,000 years of exile, is full of tragedies, massacres, expulsions and forced conversions (the most notorious being that of Sefarad, or Spain, in 1492, followed by the terrible Inquisition that lasted several centuries, persecuting and murdering the converts or New Christians). The Jews dispersed throughout the world, especially in all of Europe (called Ashkenaz, an old name of Germany) and in Spain (Sefarad), Greece, Turkey, North Africa and Arab countries.
• THE ZIONISM AND THE CREATION OF THE NEW STATE OF ISRAEL (1917-1948). Beginning in Basel in 1898 in the First Zionist Congress (led by Theodor Benjamin Zeev Herzl, Austrian Jewish journalist), the idea of ​​founding a country for Jews is forged. After unsuccessful attempts to place it in Argentina and Africa, the focus is on returning to Israel
• THE BALFOUR DECLARATION (1917): The opportunity came with the First World War … After the help of the Jewish people to Great Britain in its war against the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) the Foreign Minister Lord Balfour communicates to Lord Rothchild, a prominent British Jewish leader, the crown’s support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people in Palestine”. This idea materializes after the distribution of Middle East between Great Britain and France, in the form of provisional mandates of the League of Nations (predecessor of the UN) that is granted to them around 1020 to govern the area. Palestine remains under British control (during about 30 crucial years, until 1948) and with 3 official languages ​​(English, Arabic and Hebrew – in which it was called Eretz Israel – country of Israel). During these time were born Drora (Savta, 1923), Ron (1946) and arrived from Poland as baby Zevik (Bolo), born in 1922 in Lodz (Poland).
• THE ENDLESS ARABIC-ISRAELI CONFLICT (SINCE 1920, ALMOST 100 YEARS AGO): In Palestine there was then a population of some 600,000 Palestinian Arabs (25% were Christian or Druze, who are not Arabs) and about 150,000 Jews (They arrived mostly little by little from 1850 to 1920. Our grandparents arrived in what would later be Israel, at that time when the English had already rule (but as we shall see, many laws were still the Turkish ones).
• There was a massive influx of Jews – disappointed with anti-Semitism (hatred of Jews) that did not disappear after the Bolshevik (communist) revolution and the First World War, which equated the Arab and Jewish populations. The Jews, mostly from Central Europe, were young socialist idealists, and in a short time they were buying land from their wealthy owners (mostly Arab landowners living in Syria and Lebanon), and they soon gave employment to the Arab peasants, in general poor and uncultured (who were previously exploited by these landowners) forming the famous collective farms called Kibbutz (I explain later what they are).
• In spite of the Jews giving them better treatment, the cultural difference and the Arab frustration for not having achieved a “great middle east country” as promised by the Englishman Lawrence of Arabia (for their help in the war against Turkey), has resulted in increasing armed confrontations (1920, 1929, 1936) that were the beginning of a conflict that still lasts, fueled by the religious fanaticism of Hadj Amin El Juseini, Mufti (Muslim religious leader) of Jerusalem, later allied of the Nazis ( to exterminate the Jews of Palestine). This tragedy was avoided by the battle won by Great Britain (Marshal Montgomery) against the “desert fox” (General Alemán Rommel) in El Alamein (Egypt) thus preventing the Nazis from conquering Palestine and killing all the Jews who lived there … That’s why we’re here …
• THE CREATION OF THE ISRAEL STATE (1948) AFTER THE DECISION OF PARTITION (1947): The Second World War (1939-1945) and the Nazi Holocaust (planned extermination of all the Jews who they managed to capture, 6 million in total of the 12 then existing), has created an increasing migratory pressure, when the millions of surviving refugees of Europe were trying to flee to Palestine. Finding that the Jews were going to outnumber the Arabs, Britain changed its policy and decided not to allow more Jewish immigrants to enter. That mobilized the Jews in paramilitary groups, the main one being the Haganah (Defense) in which both our parents (Savta and Bolo) participated (and met there and they married on 4.4.1944 at 4 in the afternoon). In 1947 the UN voted to divide Palestine into 2 states (Arab and Jewish) and terminate the British mandate. The Jews accepted the decision (in spite of the non-feasibility of the division of the territory, due to the tremendous vulnerability in case of conflict, since they were 3 territories separated by Arab zone).
• As soon as the British left, Israel declared itself as an independent state (May 1948) but the Palestinians, who did not accept this partition, joined 7 Arab countries whose armies attacked Israel the next day, convinced of their easy victory (given their enormous numerical superiority). But Israel had prepared previously in a clandestine way (Bolo participated in all of this, and for that reason he left – with Ron and baby, to Brussels 1947-1948, to buy weapons and send them secretly to Israel knowing that there will soon be a war “Of independence” (Atzmaút or Komemiút in Hebrew) that was won by Israel between 1948 and the beginning of 1949, extending and uniting the 3 territories of the partition and signing the armistice (ceasefire or truce) in Crete (Greece) in 1949. We still keep the decorations of the grandparents for their role in that war … Like Aunt Aviva, Drora’s younger sister, who became a captain with a prominent role in the salvation of the Jewish part of Jerusalem, besieged by the Jordanians (which conserved the ancient city, until the Six Day War in 1967.) The Arab countries themselves prevented the creation of a Palestinian state, distributing the Arab part of Palestine between Egypt (Gaza) and Jordan (the West Bank).
• THE CURRENT ISRAEL (START-UP NATION; THE WARS OF THE MIDDLE EAST). After that truce, there have been several general wars: 1956 the Sinai War, by the illegal closure of the Suez Canal by the Egyptian President Nasser. It did little good for Israel to win it (with the help of France and England) as the United States and the UN forced Israel to return to the 1948 borders immediately.
• The next war was in 1967 (of this Ron was exempted by miracle, having concluded his military service in 1966). Nasser went one step further and closed the way to Eilat (Strait of Tiran in the Red Sea) and Israel attacked, and won the war in 6 days … The stupidity of Jordan and Syria was to believe that Egypt would win and thus they attacked Israel at the same time, who took advantage of his triumph to take over Gaza, Sinai (which was then returned to Egypt in exchange for peace), the West Bank (which was later ceded – except for Jerusalem, to the Palestinian National Authority – together with Gaza, planning that ANP would be the future Palestinian State) and the Golan Heights, which should be returned (demilitarized, because of its dominance at the height of the Sea of ​​Galilee) to Syria – if one day there is a peace with a stable government there, something that today seems far away). 1973 – the same Arabs countries attack again, this time “by surprise” on the Yom Kippur holiday, which hampered the eventual victory of Israel (with many victims, including several colleagues of Ron in the army). Then there were war situations (the so-called war of attrition with Lebanon, the so-called intifadas) that hindered a solution to the conflict, which looked very close at one point, but was rejected by Arafat, the Palestinian leader. The opportunity at the time of their Nobel Peace Prize, vanished with the assassinations of Isaac Rabin (Prime Minister of Israel) and Anwar Sadat (Egyptian President), and the death of Arafat – by the opposition of radical elements against peace on both sides … A pity.
• Over 70 years have passed since the creation of the State of Israel, in which the Israeli society has been transformed radically, by its composition – by incorporating a majority of Jews of Arab origin (Yemen, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Iraq, Turkey and the so-called Sefardies of Spanish origin, from Greece, the Balkan countries, from Persia – Iran etc.) and then almost one and a half million from Russia (after the fall of the USSR in 1989). Despite their sacrifices (high taxes, mandatory military service of 3 years for men and 2 for women), they have created a dynamic, Western (more American-like than European) and above all advanced technology (started by the military need of not depending on anyone) that places Israel in an incredible position as a second country in innovation after the United States (which is 40 times higher in population). Today it has about 8 million Jews and about 2 million Israeli Arabs (not counting the areas controlled by the ANP that have another 5 million – due to its high birth rate), and a GDP per capita almost identical to that of Spain.
• COMMENTS ON THE ORIGIN AND PATH OF OUR FAMILY: We really only know at first hand the family history of about 150 years. In this period the family comes from countries that belonged to the Russia of the Tsars (Poland, Lithuania …) with a history of emigration to Israel since 1850 (distant relatives) until 1922, and in our case, to Spain in 1960. The families of the generation of Ron’s grandparents (and their parents) were very numerous, but up to 70% perished in the Nazi Shoah (Holocaust) between 1940 and 1945. Those who did not die were saved because they emigrated to Palestine before Hitler – and only in very few cases of those who survived the terrible annihilation (in one case, pretending to be a nun, in others – few, were able to survive the extermination camps based on forced labor, suffering torture, pseudo-medical experiments, tattooing of their number (instead of name) and losing their children, couples …
• However there is a family legend with a small documentary base that traces one of the lines of ancestors to 15th century Spain, before the expulsion, and indicates the origin of an illustrious historical figure D. Isaac Abravanel, leader of those who they left in 1492 (and did not accept converting to Catholicism), and a great politician, philosopher, writer and financial adviser to several Kings of Portugal, Spain (the Catholic Kings) and finally Italy – to where he was expelled. From his background – there are known direct roots of another 200 years (from Seville) and apparently present in Spain since the 1st century, but whose roots in turn, are to the Tribe of Judah, David’s house and therefore related to Jesus Christ himself ….
• The subsequent trajectory went from Italy to Holland, from there to Germany, from there to Poland and then to Israel and Spain, a circle of more than 500 years (until the return to Spain) at the rough rate of one emigration every century … Until the generation of Ron’s great-grandfathers, they were notable rabbis (even a great-uncle) one even called Gaon or wise-genius, Grand Master of Chess (a great-uncle), wealthy industrialists in Lodz (Poland) and Berlin, artists (painter Grandfather Shmuel , sculptor his brother Moises) and military (in Russia, Poland, and Israel, where they had great prominence in the creation of the State, a fascinating story that could be the base of a book, that maybe I will finish writing some day).

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Lejaim // Soul in calm Vol.1
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