Previews & samples of the educators guide

Faith & Fate The Dawn of the Century 1900-1910

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Audience responses

“Powerful and revealing. Through eyewitnesses and leading historians, it gets to the core of the story – and tells it like it was. Highly recommended.”

Professor Monty N. Penkower – Emeritus Professor of Modem Jewish History, Machon LanderGraduate School, Jerusalem

“Beyond the historical details, the faces and personal stories of the Jews are imprinted on the hearts of viewers. Faith & Fate, whose multi-media series is due to cover the entire 20th century is a must for every Jewish and open-minded non-Jewish home.” 5 Star Rating.

Judy Siegel-Itzkovich – The Jerusalem Post

Synopsis of episode II

Print Version

The implosion of the old order, 1911 – 1920

During the decade of 1911 – 1920, because of war, revolution, and social upheaval, the world changed – especially for the Jews.

Eastern European immigrants who came to the United States struggled with poverty. Many were forced to work on Saturday or lose their jobs. Most Jews gave up Sabbath observance. Working conditions in the factories were deplorable and dangerous.

Meanwhile, in Russia and Eastern Europe, the situation for the Jews continued to deteriorate.

On the battiefont of ideas, many traditional Jews were swept up in the fervor of atheism, anarchism, secularism, socialism, communism, and secular Zionism. To meet the challenges of anti-Semitism and assimilation, leading Orthodox rabbi’s formed the Agudath Israel movement in 1912.

In Palestine, the Old Yishuv immigrants consisted primarily of observant Jews, who saw living in Palestine as a fulfillment of God’s promise that the Jewish people would return to the Holy Land. In contrast, the secular Jewish immigrants of the New Yishuv saw Zionism as a break from the past and an opportunity to create a “new Jew” with a new Jewish identity.

The Balkan Wars set the stage for World War I. They were fought over the control of the European countries under Turkish Ottoman rule.

With Imperial ambitions and tensions rising, the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914 set off a chain of events that erupted into World War I. England, France, Russia, Japan and the United States fought against Germany, the Ottoman Turks, and the Austro-Hungarians. Sixty five million soldiers fought in the war and one million died in the first six months.

On November 11,1918, Germany surrendered. The Versailles Peace Treaty imposed punitive restrictions on Germany but failed to dismantle Germany’s military infrastructure and leadership.

In March 1917, while World War I was still raging, the Russian Revolution forced the czar to abdicate. By 1920, the Bolshevik Communists established themselves as the ruling power. Many Jews who abandoned their faith and culture rose to high positions in government. Vladimir Lenin instituted a reign of terror, and in a campaign to make atheism the universal doctrine of the Soviet Empire, began to destroy nearly every vestige of Judaism and every ottier religion.

Many countries were realigned after World War I, and four empires disappeared: the Ottoman, German, Russian, and Austro-Hungarian. Many Jews were displaced, and others found themselves living in the same place, but the country, the language, and the culture around them had changed.

The Sephardic Jews, who had lived under Ottoman rule in comparative peace, were now threatened by their new controlling governments. However, having experienced the expulsion from Spain, they saw this as yet anomer rocky bump on the long road of Jewish history – and held onto their rich tradition and faith.

Meanwhile, in Palestine, the Ottoman Turks expelled many Jews at the start of World War I, and those that remained suffered terribly from disease, poverty, and hunger.

During the war, the Jews helped the British fight the Turks. In 1917, the British under General Sir Edmund Allenby, captured Jerusalem from the Turks and took over Palestine. The British Balfour Declaration of 1917 was a direct affirmation that England supported a Jewish State in Palestine.

Jews in Europe continued to suffer greatly after World War I. Pogroms in 1918 – 1920 left 20,000 Jews dead and many more homeless. The outbreak of an influenza epidemic in 1919 killed 20 million people, including many Jews.

In the United States, the American Joint Distribution Committee (known as “the Joint”) was established in 1914 to help the Jewish poor in Palestine. It also helped impoverished Jews in Europe.

In the United States, the Reform movement, which began in Germany in the late 1800’s, flourished. In 1915, Rabbi Dr. Solomon Schechter assumed the leadership of the Jewish Theological Seminary and established the Conservative movement, which he defined as “tradition without Orthodoxy.” Both streams of Judaism attracted the children of the immigrants who considered their parents, religion “old-fashioned” and not American.

At the end of the decade, while Russian Jewry had slipped into the darkness of Communist oppression, American Jewry looked forward, with hope, to the “Roaring 20’s.”