Centre for Continuing Education

Crossroads of Jewish History Course

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In partnership with the Department of Hebrew, Biblical & Jewish Studies
Course materials developed by The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning - a project of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. For specific enquiries regarding the program, please contact Hinda Young on 0432 567 917 or email.

Developed and led by the Melton Centre at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, this is a comprehensive, sequential series of text-based lessons. It merges the concepts of history and memory in order to better understand how each has shaped Judaism today. With an emphasis on reclaiming the richness of history, the chronological exploration investigates significant crossroads where Jews took major decisions that shaped identity and destiny. Two topics will be taught in each session, both for an hour’s duration.


  1. Become aware of the difference between a ‘sacred narrative’ and documented history.
  2. Be familiar with the broad sweep of history over 4,000 years and be able to identify in which period of history key events have taken place.
  3. Be able to compare and contrast historical experiences in different geographical and chronological settings, recognising that the human response to similar threats and opportunities will vary according to context.


  • The Memory of Crossroads Introduction to the Biblical Period.
  • From Tribal Society to Kingship.
  • Destruction of the First Temple to Ezra Introduction of the Second Temple and Rabbinic Periods.
  • From Judeans to Jews.
  • Internal Tensions: Controversies of the Sadducees and Pharisees.
  • Destruction of the 2nd Temple to Bar Kokhba: The Making of a Diaspora.
  • Confrontations with Early Christianity Internal and external Disparity between the Land of Israel and Babylon Introduction to the Medieval Period.
  • Confrontation with Early Islam.
  • Geonim Consolidate Power.
  • Ushering in the Age of Ashkenazim and Sephardim.
  • The First Crusades.
  • Jews on Trial.
  • The Decline and Destruction of the Sephardi Community in Spain Introduction to the Early Modern and Modern Periods.
  • A Community Dispersed: Finding Meaning in Mysticism.
  • From Despair to Ecstasy to Despair.
  • Fighting for the Soul of Eastern Europe:Chasidim and Mitnaagim.
  • A Brave New World: The Modernisation of Judaism.
  • The Question is Born: Political Emancipation of Western Europe.
  • Responses to Political Emancipation: With Religious Reformation.
  • Answers to the Question: Antisemitism and Zionism.
  • Exodus from Europe: The Immigrant Experience in Australia and the USA.
  • The Holocaust.
  • The Creation of the State of Israel.
  • Emigration.
  • Answers to the Question: Communism and Anti-Zionism Introduction to the Contemporary Period.
  • The Ethiopian Journey: From Exodus to Integration.
  • Claiming a Women’s Voice.
  • Religious Authority in Contemporary Israel.
  • A Link in the Great Chain.

Intended Audience

Suitable for anyone, no prior knowledge is required.

Recommended Reading

Participants will be required to bring a copy of the Bible (Tanach) to the lessons. Any version of the Old Testament is acceptable.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion

What others say.

  • Excellent course content and engaging delivery.