Timeline of Jewish history
A separate article exists on the timeline of Biblical characters and the
Israelites. See the entry on the history of ancient Israel and Judah. Note,
however, that the absence of independent evidence confirming the biblical
narrative causes many scholars to question the accuracy or even the veracity
of the historical account. This subject is discussed in the Bible and history.
200 BCE - 100 AD Throughout this era the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) is gradually
canonized. Jewish religious works that were written after the time of Ezra
were not canonized, although many became popular among many groups of Jews,
and later, Christians. Those works that made it into the Greek translation
of the Bible (Septuagint)became known as the Apocrypha.
70 - 200 AD Period of the tannaim, rabbis who developed the Jewish oral law.
The decisions of the tannaim are contained in the Mishnah, the Tosefta, and
various Midrash compilations.
132 - 135 AD Bar Kokhba (Bar Kosiba) leads a doomed Jewish revolt against
Rome. Jerusalem is renamed, and Rome forbids Jews to live there.
200 AD The Mishnah, a written record of the Jewish oral law, is redacted by
220 - 500 AD Period of the amoraim, the rabbis of the Talmud.
450 AD Redaction of Talmud Yerushalmi (Talmud of the land of Israel)
550 AD The main redaction of Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud) is completed
under Rabbis Ravina and Ashi. To a lesser degree, the text continues to be
modifed for the next 200 years.
550 - 700 AD Period the savoraim, the sages in Persia who put the Talmud in
its final form. Jews at this time in Israel were living under the oppressive
rule of the Byzantines.
711 AD Muslim armies invade and occupy most of Spain (At this time Jews made
up about 8% of Spain's population). Under Christian rule, Jews had been
subject to frequent and intense persecution, but this was alleviated under
Muslim rule. The beginning of the Golden Age for Jews in Spain.
700 - 1250 AD Period of the Gaonim (the Gaonic era). Jews in southern Europe
and Asia Minor lived under the often intolerant rule of Christian Kings and
clerics. Most Jews lived in the Muslim Arab realm (Israel, North Africa,
Babylonia). Despite periods of persecution, Jewish communal and cultural
life flowered in this period. The universally recognized centers of Jewish
life were in Sura and Pumbeditha (Babylonia); The heads of these law schools
were the Gaonim, who were consulted on matters of law by Jews throughout the
760 AD The Karaites reject the authority of the oral law, and split off from
912 AD Abd-er-Rahman III (891-961) becomes Caliph of Spain, ushering in the
height of the Golden Age. Muslims granted Jews and Christians exemptions
from military service, the right to their own courts of law, and a guarantee
of safety of their property. Jewish poets, scholars, scientists, statesmen
and philosophers fluorished in and were an integral part of the extensive
Arab civilization. This Golden Age lasted until the middle of the 12th
940 AD In Babylonia, Saadia Gaon compiles his siddur (Jewish prayer book.)
1013 - 1073 AD Rabbi Yitchaki Alfassi (from Morocco, later Spain) writes the
Rif, an important work of Jewish law.
1040-1105 AD Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki (Rashi) writes important commentaries on
almost the entire Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and Talmud.
1095-1291 Christian crusades begin, sparking warfare with Islam in
Palestine. Crusaders temporarily capture Jerusalem in 1099. Tens of
thousands of Jews are killed.
1100-1275 AD Time of the tosafot, Talmudic commentators who carried on
Rashi's work. They include some of his descendants.
1135-1204 AD Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, aka Maimonides is the leading rabbi of
Sephardic Jewry. Among his many accomplishments, he writes an influential
code of law (The Mishneh Torah) as well as the most influential
philosophical work (Guide for the Perplexed) in Jewish history.
1250-130 AD The life of Moses de Leon, of Spain. He authors the Zohar (Book
of Splendor) which contains mystical interpretations of the Torah. This
begins the modern form of Kabbalah (esoteric Jewish mysticism).
1290 AD The Jews are expelled from England.
750 - 1900 AD Islam conquers Asia Minor, the Arabian Peninsula, Israel,
North Africa, and Spain. Under Muslim rule, Jews often found greater
toleration than under Christianity. However, despite many decades of
prosperity and toleration, the Jews living in the Arab and Muslim world
faced anti-Jewish discrimination and persecution.
1250-1550 AD Period of the Rishonim, the medieval rabbinic sages. Most Jews
at this time lived in the Mediterranean basin or in Western Europe under
feudal systems. With the decline of both the Muslim and Jewish centers of
power in Iraq, there was no single place in the world which was a recognized
center for deciding matters of Jewish law and practice. Consequently, the
rabbis recognized the need for writing commentaries on the Torah and Talmud
and for writing law codes that would allow Jews anywhere in the world to be
able to continue living in the Jewish tradition.
1290 AD Jews are expelled from England.
1306 AD Jews are expelled from France.
1300 Rabbi Levi ben Gershom, aka Gersonides. A 14th century French Jewish
philosopher best known for his Sefer Milhamot Adonai ("The Book of the Wars
of the Lord") as well as for his philosophical commentaries.
1270 - 1343 AD Rabbi Jacob ben Asher of Spain writes the Arba'ah Turim (Four
Rows of Jewish Law).
1481-1492 The Spanish Inquisition
1492 AD Jews are expelled from Spain.
1500 AD Protestant Christian Reformation. Jews are expelled from Portugal
and from many German cities. The expelled Jews relocate to the Netherlands,
Turkey, the Arab countries and the land of Israel; some eventually go to
South and Central America.
1488 - 1575 AD Rabbi Yosef Karo spends 20 years compiling the Beit Yosef, an
enormous guide to Jewish law. He then writes a more concise guide, the
Shulkhan Arukh, that becomes the standard law guide for the next 400 years.
1534 - 1572 Issac Luria develops the modern form of esoteric Jewish mysticism.
1525 - 1572 Rabbi Moshe Isserles (The Rama) of Cracow writes an extensive
gloss to the Shulkhan Arukh called the mappah, extending its application to
1626 - 1676 False Messiah Shabbati Zvi.
1648 The Ukrainian Cossack Bohdan Chmielnicki leads a massacre of Polish
Jewry that leaves more than 100,000 Jews dead. 
1655 Jews readmitted to England by Oliver Cromwell.
1670 Jews expelled from Vienna.
1700-1760 Israel ben Eliezer, known as the Ba'al Shem Tov, founds Hasidic
Judaism, a way to approach God through meditation and fervent joy. He and
his disciples attract many followers, and establish numerous Hasidic sects.
The European Jewish opponents of Hassidim (known as Mitnagdim) argue that
one should follow a more scholarly approach to Judaism. Some of the more
well known Hassdic sects include Breslover, Lubavitch (Chabad), Satmar,
Gerer, and Bobover Hasidim.
1720 - 1797 Rabbi Elijah of Vilna, the Vilna Gaon.
1729 - 1786 Moses Mendelssohn, and the Haskalah (Enlightenment) movement. He
strove to bring an end to the isolation of the Jews so that they would be
able to embrace the culture of the Western world, and in turn be embraced by
gentiles as equals. The Haskalah opened the door for the development of all
the modern Jewish denominations and the revival of Hebrew as a spoken
language, but it also paved the way for many who, wishing to be fully
accepeted into Christian society, converted to Christianity or chose to
assimilate to emulate it.
1775 - 1781 American Revolution; religious Freedom guaranteed.
1789 The French revolution. In 1790 France grants full right to Jews and
allows them to become citizens.
1790 In the USA, President George Washington sends a letter to the Jewish
community in Rhode Island. He writes that he envisions a country "which
gives bigotry no sanction...persecution no assistance". For the first time
in history, Jews live in a country where they enjoy full and equal human and
political rights - as a birthright of citizenship. Jews go on to play a
major role in all aspects of American social, economic, scientific, and
1800 Russia creates the Pale of Settlement. At least one third of Russia's
Jews are forced to live in the Pale.
Mid 1800s: Beginning of the rise of classical Reform Judaism
1838 - 1933 Rabbi Yisroel Meir Ha-Kohen (The Chofetz Chaim) opens an
important yeshiva. He writes an authoritative Halakhic work, the Mishnah
1820 - 1860 The development of Orthodox Judaism, a set of traditionalist
movements that resisted the influences of modernization that arose in
response to the European emancipation and Enlightenment movements.
Mid-1800s Rabbi Israel Salanter develops the Mussar Movement. While teaching
that Jewish law is binding, he dismisses current philosophical debate and
advocates the ethical teachings as the essence of Judaism.
Mid-1800s Positive-Historical Judaism, later known as Conservative Judaism,
1861 The Zion Society is formed in Frankfurt, Germany.
1875 Reform Judaism's Hebrew Union College is founded in Cincinnati. Its
founder was Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, the architect of American Reform
1881 -1884, 1903-06, 1918-20 A series of Russian pogroms (officially
sanctioned attacks against Jewish communities) kills tens of thousands of
Jews. Hundreds of thousands of Jews flee.
1882 - 1903 - The First Aliyah; the first major wave of Jewish immigrants to
build a homeland in Palestine.
1880 - 1920 Two million Russian Jews migrate to the US.
1870 - 1890 Russian group Chovevei Tzion (Lovers of Zion) emerges, and sets
up a series of Jewish settlements in the land of Israel, financially aided
by Baron Edmond de Rothschild.
1800 - 1900 The Golden Age of Yiddish literature, the revivial of Hebrew as
a spoken language, and the revival of Hebrew literature.
1886 Rabbi Sabato Morais and Alexander Kohut begin to champion the
Conservative Jewish reaction to American Reform, and establish The Jewish
Theological Seminary of America as a school of 'enlightened Orthodoxy'
1860 - 1943 Henrietta Szold. Educator, author, social worker and founder of Hadassah.
1894 The Dreyfus Affair. In France, Alfred Dreyfus, a Jew, is falsely
accused of treason.
1897 In response to the Dreyfus affair, Theodore Herzl writes Der Judenstaat
(The Jewish State), advocating the creation of a free and independent Jewish
state in Israel.
1902 Rabbi Dr. Solomon Schechter reorganizes the Jewish Theological Seminary
and makes it into the flagship institution of Conservative Judaism.
1904 Herzl finds Pope Pious X unsympathetic towards the idea of a Jewish
1914 - 1918 World War I
1915 Yeshiva College (later University) and its Rabbi Issac Elchanan
Rabbinical Seminary is established in New York for training in a Modern
1916 Arabs revolt against Ottoman (Turkish) rule.
1917 The British defeat the Turks and gain control of the land of Israel.
The British issue the Balfour Declaration which gives official British
support for "the establishment in Palestine for a national home for the
1917 The Russian Revolution overthrows the Czar, and creates the Soviet
Union. The Bolshevik regime ends Czarist-era pogroms. Blood libels and
pogroms did, however, continue in other parts of Europe until 1946).
1918 - 1945 The period between the two World Wars is often referred to as
the "golden age" of hazzanut (cantors). Some of the great Jewish cantors of
this era include Abraham Davis, Moshe Koussevitzky, Zavel Kwartin
(1874-1953), Jan Peerce, Joseph Yossele Rosenblatt 1880-1933), Gershon
Sirota (1874-1943), and Laibale Waldman.
1920 At the San Remo conference in Italy, the Palestine Mandate is assigned
1920 Britain receives a League of Nations Mandate over Palestine.
1921 Britain proclaims that all of Palestine east of the Jordan river is
forever closed to Jewish settlement, but not to Arab settlement.
1922 Reform Rabbi Stephen S. Wise established the Jewish Institute of
Religion in New York. (It merged with Hebrew Union College in 1950.)
1923 Britain gives the Golan Heights to the French mandate of Syria. Arab
immigration is allowed; Jewish immigration is not.
1933 - 1941 Persecution of Jews in Germany rises until they are stripped of
their rights not only as citizens, but also as human beings.
1937 Adin Steinsaltz born, author of the first comprehensive Babylonian
Talmud commentary since Rashi in the 11th century.
1938 Kristallnacht (Night of The Broken Glass). In one night most German
synagogues and hundreds of Jewish owned German businesses are destroyed.
Almost 100 Jews are killed, and 10,000 are sent to concentration camps.
1939 World War II begins when Germany invades Poland.
1939 The British government soon issues the 'White Paper' and reverses their
support of the Balfour Declaration. They announce an absolute limit of only
75,000 on future Jewish immigration to Palestine.
1941 - 1945 The Holocaust
Creation of the modern State of Israel
1946: Israeli terrorism by the two underground movements: the Irgun Zvai
Leumi and the Stern gang.
1947 November 29. The United Nations approves the creation of a Jewish State
and an Arab state in the British mandate of Palestine.
1948 May 14. The State of Israel declares itself as an independent nation.
Andrei Gromyko, the Soviet Union's UN ambassador, calls for the UN to accept
Israel as a member state. The UN approves.
1948 May 15. Syrian, Iraqi, and Egyptian troops invade Israel. The attack
1948 - 1949 Almost 250,000 Holocaust survivors make their way to Israel.
"Operation Magic Carpet" brings thousands of Yemenite Jews to Israel.
1956 The Suez War. Egypt blockades the Gulf of Aqaba, and closes the Suez
canal to Israeli shipping. Egypt's President Nassar calls for the
destruction of Israel. Israel, England, and France go to war and force Egypt
to end the blockade of Aqaba, and open the canal to all nations.
1964 Creation of the Palestine Liberation Organization
1964 Jewish-Christian relations are revolutioned by the Catholic Church's
1966 Shmuel Yosef Agnon(1888-1970) becomes the first Hebrew writer to win
the Nobel Prize in literature.
1967 May 17. Egyptian President Nasser demands that the UN dismantle the UN
Emergency force between Israel and Egypt. The UN complies.
May 1967 Nasser closes the strategic straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping.
Nasser states that Egypt is in a state of war with Israel. Egyptian troops
group in the Sinai.
1967 June 5-11. The Six Day War.
1968 Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan formally creates a separate Reconstructionist
movement by setting up the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia.
Mid 1970s to present - Growing revival of Klezmer music (The folk music of
1907 - 1972 Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the most significant Jewish
theologian of the twentieth century.
1973 October 6-24. The Yom Kippur War. Syria , Egypt, Morocco, Iraq and
Jordan launch a surprise attack against Israel.
1975 President Gerald Ford signs legislation including the Jackson-Vanik
Amendment, which ties U.S. trade benefits to the Soviet Union to freedom of
emigration for Jews.
United Nations adopts resolution equating Zionism with racism.
1976 Israel rescues hostages taken to Entebbe, Uganda.
1978 September 18. At Camp David, near Washington D.C., Israel and Egypt
sign a comprehensive peace treaty, The Camp David Accord, which included the
withdrawal of Israel from the Sinai.
Yiddish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer receives Nobel Prize
1979 Prime Minister Menachem Begin and President Anwar Sadat are awarded
Nobel Peace Prize.
1979 - 1983 Operation Elijah: Rescue of Ethiopian Jewry.
1981 The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) occupies much of southern
1982 June-December: The Lebanon War. Israel invades Southern Lebanon to
drive out the PLO.
1983 American Reform Jews formally accept patrilineal descent, creating a
new definition of who is a Jew.
1984 Operation Moses: Rescue of more Ethiopian Jewry by Israel.
1985 Operation Joshua: Further rescue of Ethiopian Jewry by Israel
1986 Elie Wiesel wins the Nobel Peace Prize
1986 Anatoly Sharansky, Soviet Jewish dissident, is freed from prison.
1987 Beginning of the first Palestinian Intifada against Israel.
1989 Fall of the Berlin Wall between East and West Germany, collapse of the
communist East German government, and the beginning of Germany's
reunification (which formally began in october 1990).
1990 The Soviet Union opens its doors to the three million Soviet Jews who
had been held as virtual prisoners within their own country. Hundreds of
thousands of Soviet Jews choose to leave the Soviet Union and move to Israel.
1990 - 1991 Iraq invades Kuwait, triggering a war between Iraq and Allied
United Nations forces. Israel is hit by 30 Scud missiles from Iraq.
1991 Operation Solomon: Rescue of the remainder of Ethiopian Jewry in a
twenty four hour airlift.
* Israel is attacked by Iraqi Scud missiles during the Gulf war. Middle
East peace conference convened in Madrid.
* A series of anti-Semitic attacks occur in crown Heights, New York,
after a seven-year old black boy is accidentally killed by a car driven
by a Hasidic Jew. Some people call this a "pogrom".
* The United Nations rescinds the resolution equating Zionism with
1991 Breakup and collapse of the Soviet Union.
1991 October 30. The Madrid Peace Conference opens in Spain, sponsored by
the United States and the Soviet Union.
Sept. 13, 1993: Israel and PLO sign peace treaty.
1994 The Lubavitcher (Chabad) Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, dies,
prompting most of the movement to move in a messianic direction.
Oct. 26, 1994 Israel and Jordan sign an official peace treaty. Israel cedes
a small amount of contested land to Jordan, and the countries open official
diplomatic relations, with open borders and free trade.
Dec. 10, 1994: Arafat, Rabin and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres share
the Nobel Peace Prize.
Nov. 4, 1995 Israeli Prime Minister Yitchak Rabin is assassinated.
1996 First Palestinian elections. Yassar Arafat elected president.
1996 Peres loses election to Benyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu (Likud party).
1999 Ehud Barak elected Prime Minister of Israel.
2000 Israeli folk and pop singer Ofra Haza dies of AIDS, forcing the Israeli
public to publicly confront the AIDS pandemic.
2000 Israel unilaterally withdraws its remaining forces from its security
zone in southern Lebanon. Syria continues to occupy the rest of Lebanon.
2001 Election of Ariel Sharon as Israel's Prime Minister.