We are our stories, and our stories don’t just deserve to be told, they need to be heard. It’s more than a shame that so many of these stories were never heard during the time their storytellers were alive. But we have a chance to hear some of them today.
What is Spinoza’s G-d up to, anyway? What’s G-d good for, if not meddling about in the affairs of mankind? If G-d’s not going to help me on my upcoming statistics test, what the heck do I need a G-d for, anyhow?
Amsterdam in 1655 was a boomtown: bustling, crowded, welcoming ships from around the world into is busy port. In other words, it was ripe for an outbreak of plague.
Rabbi Menasseh ben Israel was the most forward-thinking rabbi in Amsterdam, if not the world, in the 1600s. He was considered the most famous Jew in Europe then, but he struggled to find respect among his neighbors. He’s still an inspiring figure today.
History doesn’t belong to any one person or group. There’s no single narrative to it. Everyone alive contributes their own kaleidoscope view to history, and each time we get a chance to glimpse another one of them, we get a truer picture of what history really is.
If there’s one thing that separates humans from the other animals, I’d say it’s our immense talent for creating divisions among ourselves. Of creating an “us” vs. a “them.” Of tribalism.
Jews, I’m sorry to say, are no different.
Rabbi Aboab da Fonesca was always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Until it was time to build a lasting monument to the community he served.
July 27, 2019. On this day, 363 years ago, Baruch Spinoza was kicked out of the Portuguese Sephardic community in Amsterdam. We know the words that were uttered as he was drummed out of the insular society, but there is so much more that we don’t know about that event.