Holy Wars and Antisemitism by Ari v, Tre Thomas and Abdullah H

During the 700’s-1300’s, the European Christians and the Church were having conflicts with the Middle East. Because Jesus resided in Jerusalem, they believed that the Holy places should remain Holy to them and only them. To the Christians, Jesus was condemned to his fate on the crucifix because of a Jew. People were so outraged that it resulted in Crusades. The word crusade meant “a war for the cross”, which was exactly what the Christians were fighting for. They stormed across Europe, towards the middle east and Jerusalem to take back the Holy Land from Islamic rule. Not to mention, that Church officials and leaders encouraged the killing of Jews, and the crusades.

“As a result, the people in northern Europe came to view Jesus as a man who identified with the poor and powerless, a man who died painfully on the cross at the hands of his enemy- and that enemy was, in their minds, “the Jews.”” (Goldstein, 65)
“... the pope called upon Christians to take up arms and return Christian holy places in Jerusalem to the church.” (Goldstein, 63)

The Roman Empire split into East and West. The West collapsed, but the East went on and expanded. Today it’s known as the Byzantine Empire, its capital Constantinople. It competed with the Persian Empire for land and power. The Jews made peace with the Persian Empire and created an alliance against the Christians of the Byzantine empire. They took back Jerusalem and expelled all Christians. In 617 A.D. Persia made peace with the Byzantines and returned Palestine to them. This ended alliance with Jews and Persia attacked them. Islam was being developed in the Arabian peninsula. Muhammad went and started to preach to people to accept Islam. When Muhammad went to Madina, Islam was accepted by everyone except the Jews. However they were tolerated minorities. Muhammad believed the the Jews were feeding information to his enemies so he exiled some Jewish tribes. He attacked the last tribe and killed all the men and enslaved women and children.

In Ancient Times, Jewish children would go to school at the age of six and they would be taught the Torah. This is the first five books of twenty-four books of the Tanakh. They would go there for five days every week. By ten years old they would have memorized the Torah, they would be done with school all together. They would go and take over the family business. This school was known as Bet Sefer. The kids who were the best and brightest would go beyond Bet Sefer and go to Bet Talmud. Here they learned and memorized the Hebrew Scripture by 14. They were taught how to answer questions with questions, know as the Jewish art of questions. Most kids didn’t make it past Bet Talmud. The ones who did went to Beit Midrash. Here you would go to a Rabbi and asked many hard questions of the scriptures to see if you were qualified to be the Rabbi’s student. If you passed, which rarely happened, than he take you on and it would be your duty to be like him in all aspects. Then comes the Yoke, where you will take on his beliefs and his interpretation of the scriptures. He would tell them to follow him in his teachings.

Hebrew Scripture

Art has been an important role in Jewish life, although not the most prominent. It’s been influenced by two things in Jewish life that contradict themselves. First is Hiddur Mitzvah or the Beautification of the Commandments. This encourages ritual items and sacred spaces. The other is the Second Commandment, which is seen as not allowing arts or creations unless they’re used for idolatry. People have accepted either one of these. Jewish art was very successful in North America, Europe, and Israel, and during the Enlightenment in Europe, Jewish artists left the ghettos so that they could become more prominent in the world. Some Jewish artists made their arts about their Jewish life while others did not want anything to do with Judaism at all. With these types of artist came the question of what Jewish art should mean and what it should contain.

"The Circle of Life" by Chava Devorkin

Two main social structures competed in Ancient Israel. The people were united under the monarchy, which organized the state for administrative and taxation purposes. The early years of the monarchy were plagued by a constant struggle between Benjamin, the tribe of Saul (Israel's first king), and Judah, the tribe of David. The tensions between the tribe and the state were caused by the division of the monarchy in two separate states after the death of Solomon. Within the tribal structure, the family served as the core of Israelite Life. It defined the way each individual fit into society. Land was passed down from one generation to the next, with one son–usually the firstborn–receiving an extra portion of the land. In the event that a male heir was lacking, the patriarch of the family had the option of adopting a son who would become the heir to the family estate. In addition to adoption, kinship ties were also forged through marriage. Such familial ties served as a means for Israelites to interact with one another, exchange goods, and settle or prevent conflicts

Valdemar Atterdag holding Visby to ransom, 1361 by Carl Gustaf Hellqvist (1851-1890)

Judaism, the first and oldest of the three great monotheistic faiths, is the religion and way of life of the Jewish people. The basic laws and tenets of Judaism are derived from the torah, the first five books of the Bible. The most important teaching and tenet of Judaism is that there is one god who wants all people to do what is just and merciful. The Jewish people serve God by study, prayer and by the observance of the commandments set forth in the Torah. This faithfulness to the biblical Covenant can be understood as the “vocation,” “witness” and “mission” of the Jewish people. Judaism does not believe that other peoples must adopt its own religious beliefs and practices in order to be redeemed. For this reason, Judaism is not an active missionary religion. Much of Jewish religious observance is centered in the home. This includes daily prayers which are said three times each day - in the morning, the afternoon, and after sunset. Prayers usually take place in a synagogue, a Jewish house of prayer and study. The synagogue service can be led by any knowledgeable member of the congregation. In most synagogues this function is performed by a cantor or by a rabbi, an ordained religious teacher, who has studied in a yeshiva, a Jewish religious seminary.

Jewish Symbols

Jews were seen as “murders of God” as they caused to crucifixion of Jesus Christ

“The belief that the Jews killed Jesus grew out of interpretations of the trial and crucifixion portions of the New Testament. The Gospels describe Jewish religious leaders delivering Jesus to Roman authorities with the request that they execute him for blasphemy and public menace. In the Gospel of Matthew (27:25), it is written that Jews cried out, “His blood be on us and our children,” as they demanded his crucifixion. As a result, Christians have historically held Jews collectively responsible for the death of Jesus.”

Jews used humans to reenact the crucifixion of Jesus and had blood and ritualistic sacrifices

“In 1144, in Norwich, England, a 12-year-old child named William disappeared in Thorpe's Wood, a forest near the town, and was found dead. A Jewish convert to Christianity, a monk named Theobald, testified that the Jews tortured the child, stabbed him, and nailed him to a cross, reenacting Yeshu's death.”
Depiction of William of Norwich being sacrificed by Jews

Jews were the Devil's children

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out his desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, refusing to uphold the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, because he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:43)
Depiction of Jews in hell in Medieval Art

Jews poisoned wells and caused the Bubonic Plague

“One third of Europe's population died from the Black Death. Though many Jews were among the dead, they were accused by local church leaders and tortured to confess that they had poisoned the wells in order to kill Christians.”

Jewish History is cultured but also very oppressed. There has been a lot of prejudice regarding Jews, starting near the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, when they were seen as "Christ Killers", but that is not the case. For centuries, Jewish children have been learning the Hebrew language and reading the Torah. Jewish artists have incorporated religion and significant Jewish symbols into their artwork, and stories. Jewish life was cultured and very interesting.

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