Info for the Final Take-Home Essay

Your third and final take-home essays will be due next Wednesday at 10am (the time of our final). The question and relevant info can be found here. Also on that page are some of the sources we’ve discussed in class that might be useful for the assignment (in case you lost your hard copies). You’ll of course also want to consult the relevant class readings from the “readings” page.

Notes on the Final Draft

As you work on your final drafts for the holy site paper, keep these tasks in mind:

  • Fill or explain (and prove) the gaps in the historical record concerning your site. Do your sources jump from the 4th to the 19th century? Either fill that gap or account for it!
  • Connect to the broader context. For example, if you’re using 4th-century Christian sources, don’t forget to mention the broader context of what’s happening at the time–the Christianization of the land under Constantine.
  • Draw out and emphasize themes. If certain themes keep popping up in sources relating to your site, point them out. For example, does your site have eschatological associations? Draw attention to that!
  • Look to secondary sources. Now that you’ve engaged your primary sources, you are better prepared to tussle with what other scholars have written.

Next Week’s Shuffle

21a Western-Wall-old-photo
As I mentioned in class, I want to shuffle things around a bit next week. Here’s what next week will look like:

Monday – 4/25
On Monday we’ll look more closely at the place of the Western Wall and the Haram al-Sharif in the conflict between the Zionists and Arabs during the Mandate era. The reading will be the first half (pgs. 231-244) of the Reiter and Seligman article, “1917 to the Present: Al-Haram al- Sharif/Temple Mount (Har ha-Bayit) and the Western Wall.”

Wednesday – 4/27
On Wednesday, we’ll step back from events in Palestine itself to look at how British and American Protestants viewed the Arab-Zionist struggle. Your reading will be Yaakov Ariel’s article, “An Unexpected Alliance,” which looks at Protestant support for Zionism. This will conclude our look at the Mandate era.

Friday – 4/29
First off–on Friday you can turn in the final draft of your paper for 5 bonus points. As for class itself, we’ll look at the creation of Israel in 1948 and the evolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict–particularly the Six Day War of 1967. This will set up our discussions during Dead Week. Your reading will be the second half of the Reiter/Seligman chapter (pgs. 244-273).


Hajj Amin al-Husseini
Hajj Amin al-Husseini

As I mentioned in class today, we have a different reading for Friday’s class (it’s much better!). The new one is a book chapter from Beverley Milton-Edwards, “Islamic Politics in Palestine.” The chapter looks at two types of Islamic responses to the Zionist movement– an “institutional” response typified by Hajj Amin al-Husseini (pictured above) and a “radical Islamic modernist” response typified by Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam. As you read about each figure, pay attention to the differences in their approaches.

Final 4-Pager Q

Though it’s not due for about a month, I thought I’d go ahead and post the question you’ll be answering for your final take-home essay (due on the final exam date):

We’ve studied several critical moments in the past that transformed religious attitudes towards the Holy Land. Arguably, we are in one of those moments now. How has the development of the Zionist movement, the creation of the State of Israel, and the unfolding of the Arab-Israeli conflict served to transform religious attitudes towards the land in the 20th century?

Footage from Munkacs

While reviewing for tomorrow’s class, I stumbled across some footage that was taken of the Munkacs Jewish community in the 1930s–including footage of the wedding of the daughter of the Munkascer Rebbe (who is the subject of our reading for tomorrow). About 1:15 in you can actually see the Munkascer Rebbe himself, talking in Yiddish about the Sabbath.


In the following footage, you can see Jewish children at the Hebrew Gymnasium in Munkacs singing the Zionist anthem, “Hatikvah.” You can bet the Rebbe wasn’t happy about it.

Background for Friday’s Reading

Munkacs Rebbe - Chaim Elazar Shapira

Friday’s reading is an article about the anti-Zionist perspective of the Munkacser Rebbe, Chaim Elazar Shapira (he’s the guy in the picture). As “Rebbe,” Shapira was the leader of the Hasidic Jewish community in Munkacs, Hungary. We haven’t discussed Hasidism, but it is enough for you to know that Hasidic Jews form part of the “Ultra-Orthodox” strand of Judaism–meaning among other things that they are rigorous in observance of halakha (Jewish religious law).

Some of the details in the article will be confusing, but if you walk through it keeping a few questions in mind, you’ll do fine. As you read, ask yourself:

  • What religious reasons does Shapira give for opposing Zionism?
  • How does he describe Zionism itself?
  • In Shapira’s eyes, what should a Jewish settlement in Palestine look like?

One other thing, at times Ravitzky will reference the Aguda movement. The Aguda movement also came out of Ultra-Orthodox Judaism and was also opposed to the Zionist movement. However, Aguda followers were willing to work with the Zionists in certain arenas, treating them as they would any other secular political movement or authority. This willingness to work with the Zionists was one of the reasons that Shapira came to hate Aguda.

Dating the Bible



You’ll recall that a major part of the Judaism section of the course was devoted to figuring out when different parts of the Hebrew Bible were written or compiled. Well, some researchers at Tel Aviv University have just published a study that may shed some light on this question. They argue that literacy was more widespread in the Kingdom of Judah than has been believed; consequently, portions of the Bible may have been written and promulgated earlier than scholars have thought. While I question the latter part of this argument, the research nonetheless should change our picture of ancient Judahite society.