The Rabbi’s Top 10 Jewish Modern Events

As we approach Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, I offer a history list – my compilation of the most consequential events of modern Jewish history. As always, I welcome your comments.

1. Spinoza’s Excommunication– Launched thinker’s epic contribution to “modernity” and the notion of the secular Jew.

2. Mendelssohn’s “Jerusalem”– First modern attempt to reconcile faith and reason.

3.  Rise of Hasidism– Kabbalistic spirit becomes energizing movement.

4.  Parisian Sanhedrin– Challenges of citizenship become evident.

5. Frankfort Rabbinical Conference– Reform of Judaism  finds its place even as a backlash ensues that helps create Conservative and Modern Orthodox denominations.

6.  Emigration to America– Demographic shift begins to the new world.

7. Dreyfuss Trial– Persistence of anti-Semitism shook Herzl and Europe.

8. First Zionist Congress– Herzl’s reply and the first achievement of modern Zionism.

9. Holocaust– Tragedy on unimaginable scale.

10. Birth of Modern Israel– Triumph on an unimaginable scale.

About the Author
Barry L. Schwartz is director of The Jewish Publication Society in Philadelphia and rabbi of Congregation Adas Emuno in Leonia, New Jersey. He is the author, most recently, of "Judaism's Great Debates: Timeless Controversies from Abraham to Herzl" (2012).