Friday, September 25, 2020

Jews under Byzantine rule

HISTORY: How did Jews get by under Byzantine rule? A look at surprising Jewish pastimes in past times (Alex Winston, Jerusalem Post). An interview with "Professor Oded Irshai of the Hebrew University’s Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry." Excerpt:
In 553 CE the Emperor Justinian forbade the use and study of the Mishna, known as the Oral Torah, leading to Jewish scholars to compose piyutim, the liturgical poems used in religious services and a major part of the High Holy Days’ services. As the focus of Byzantine Palestine moved toward Christianity from Judaism, the center of world Jewry gradually switched from Judea to Babylon, which had the largest Jewish community in the Diaspora and it was there the Babylonian Talmud was composed. The land of Israel would not return as Judaism’s major religious center (although it would always remain a central tenant in prayer) until the 20th century.

Jerusalem and the Holy Land also fell to the Persian Sassanians and then to the Muslims in the early 7th century, marking the end of Byzantine Palestine, leaving only a diaspora of communities dotted throughout the Eastern Mediterranean.

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