Previews & samples of the educators guide

Faith & Fate The Dawn of the Century 1900-1910

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Audience responses

“An amazing visual presentation – the audience loved it! This documentary and the entire series is a gift to the Jewish people! Thank you! We are learning about our Jewish heritage in such a powerful and meaningful way.”

Rabbi Nitzan Bergman – Director of the WOW Program

“Last night I had the chance to view the new Faith & Fate film shown at the shul. Wow! The film is outstanding in its presentation of the history. It is both moving and informative, and the collection of images and film footage was riveting I must tell you that even if this was not a shul event I would strongly encourage all of you to take the opportunity to see it. You will not regret it!”

Rabbi Moshe Hauer – Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion Congregation, Baltimore

“The film introduced me to a new perspective and moved me to look beyond what we have today in Israel. It also taught me how different were the experiences of the many Jewish communities both in Israel and in the Diaspora. The film brought up so much that I never thought about in the past. Keep up the good work.”

Harriet Schlein – Jewish Community Services

“A New Beginning was researched and written with scholarly integrity and presented with empathy for the dynamics of this crucial decade in 20th century Jewish history. As with the other segments of Faith and Fate, it will be welcomed by both scholars and students.”

Dr. Jeffrey Gurock – Professor of Modern Jewish History, Yeshiva University

Synopsis of episode VII

Print Version

A NEW BEGINNING, 1948 – 1957

On June 11, 1948, after 27 days of hostilities in Israel’s War of Independence, the Arabs agreed to a ceasefire not knowing the Israeli forces were on the brink of collapse. This gave the Jews time to arm and bring in more fighters. From the start of the war, the Arabs had taken control of the main roadways and Jerusalem was under total Arab siege. Eventually, the siege was broken when the Hagannah and civilians led by Mickey Marcus, an American WW2 Army Colonel, heroically built a 16 mile relief road, the Burma Road. However, they were not able to dislodge the Jordanian forces from the Old City.

When a ship called the Altalena attempted to bring a load of arms into Tel Aviv for the Irgun, tensions that existed between the Hagannah and the Irgun prior to 1948, came to head. The confrontation between the two forces led to the death of 19 people.

Finally, with the Israeli army victorious, the Arabs agreed to an armistice. Israel received more land than it would have had, if the Arabs had accepted the original Partition Plan. For Muslims, the concept of Jews in control of Arabs in land that was considered a holy area or Waqf, was totally unacceptable and a theological impossibility.

The origins of Arab anti-Semitism began with Mohammed himself when he brought his revelations to the Jews of Medina in 622. The Jews, who believed in their Torah, would not accept his teachings. Mohammed expelled the first Jewish tribe, made the second a subjugated, tribute bearing people and beheaded the men of the third tribe and enslaved their wives and children. The vitriolic exchanges between Mohammed and the Jews have become embodied in the holy writ of the Koran. The Koran in several places is quite specific in its condemnation or directives about the place of the Jew or the Christian. Jews and Christians who live under Muslim rule are considered to be Dhimmis – second class citizens. They have been subjected to humiliation in different forms throughout the centuries.

After the War of Independence, the surrounding Arab countries refused to absorb the Arab refugees from Palestine. Refugees had left their homes when asked to do so by their leaders or fled in fear during the fighting. Although some had been evicted from behind Israeli lines, 150,000 Arabs stayed in their homes, and today they comprise one and a half million full-fledged citizens living in Israel.

Meanwhile, for the 850,000 Jews living in Arab countries, life became very difficult. Muslims, in frustration over their defeat in Palestine, pounced on local communities and there were many massacres. Almost all of these Jews left their homes and over 600,000 settled in Israel. They were forced to leave behind their material possessions which in some places had preceded the advent of the Muslims by a millennium.

The challenge of the small, new country to absorb so many immigrants from more than 50 countries and cultures was daunting. The country doubled its population in its first two years, and quadrupled in its first decade. Due to a lack of housing, when the Jews from Arab Lands arrived they had to live for an extended time in absorption camps called Ma’abarot, in miserable physical conditions. There many clashed with the secular Ashkenazic government which was indifferent to the culture and values of the new traditional immigrants.

Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, first believed that the few observant Jews in Israel would eventually disappear but the opposite occurred; religious institutions that had been destroyed in Europe were rebuilt and Torah study flourished in the State of Israel. However, most Israelis believed in the Zionist concept of a “New Jew” in the State of Israel and rejected the religious observance of their parents and grandparents.

In the United States, for the first time, Jews were fully accepted into American society. Jews moved to the suburbs, where they socialized with non-Jews. To combat this trend towards assimilation, synagogues of all Jewish streams became centers not only for prayer but also for social activities. The Conservative movement, accommodating its theology to an American way of life, allowed Jews to drive to synagogue on Shabbat and was the fastest growing stream. Orthodoxy also grew with the arrival of many Holocaust survivors who were proudly observant Jews. Torah U’mesorah was established to create a Jewish alternative to the public school system.

In Russia, with the Cold War intensifying, Stalin began to crack down on contacts with the West. Jews were targeted as they had relatives in many Western countries. The anti cosmopolitan campaign also purged Jews from the foreign ministry and high positions in government, military and education. In 1953, Stalin falsely accused a group of Jewish doctors of a plot to kill Russians. Many doctors were imprisoned, others lost their livelihood and Jews were filled with fear. Fortunately, Stalin died in 1953 before the trial began, and the charges were dropped.

The Soviet Union, realizing that the State of Israel would not become a Communist state, began giving financial and military support to Gamal Abdul Nasser, the head of Egypt and leader of the Pan Arabism movement. The United States backed Israel, but also courted the Arab countries for their own self interests – oil.

In 1956, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal which was jointly owned and run by the British and French. Britain and France then allied themselves with Israel to invade Egypt and retake the Suez Canal. Israeli forces invaded the Sinai and Egypt in October 1956 and routed the Egyptian army. The British and French, using air cover and paratroopers then regained control of the Suez Canal. However, political pressure from the United States and Russia forced Israel along with England and France to withdraw their troops.

Israel won the Sinai campaign and it was a very important victory because it showed that Israel was capable of vanquishing the most important Arab army, the Egyptian army. For 10 years following the war, Israel had no attacks from the Gaza Strip and from Egypt. This decade was crucial in building the country and was the longest period of peace that Israel has ever had.