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The Jewish Encounter with Hellenism: Conflict and Collaboration

Hosted By: My Jewish Learning

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In this My Jewish Learning class, Professor Tessa Rajak explores the Jewish encounter with Hellenism. Hanukkah celebrates the remarkable victory of the Maccabees over a powerful Syrian Greek king who sought to destroy the Jewish people. From then on, Greek culture, or Hellenism, has been viewed with deep suspicion by many Jews and often seen as the absolute opposite of all that Jews stand for. But was the struggle ever about Jews versus Greeks? Did all the Jews of Jerusalem really hate everything Greek? And what is “Hellenism” anyway? Why is it such a potent code word, tinged with hate, even today?

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