Jewish History

Intro to Emancipation and Enlightenment

By Jeremy Shuback

If you want to understand how Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Judaism came to be, you need to take a step back to when they first formed. Watch this explainer video to learn some Jewish history about the Enlightenment and Emancipation periods featuring BimBam producer Jeremy Shuback.

How Did Reform Judaism Begin?

By Jeremy Shuback

What is the history of the Reform Jewish movement? This video explains the history of the Reform Jewish movement and how early proponents abandoned aspects of traditional Judaism in order to create a Jewish community that was able to adapt to the changes of the modern world.

How Did Hasidic Judaism Begin?

By Jeremy Shuback

What is Hasidic Judaism? This video explains the history of the Hasidic movement, from its beginnings with the Ba’al Shem Tov to the creation of a distinct community of mystical and observant Jews.

The Hasidic movement was formed in the mid 1800s by Jewish mystics in Eastern Europe, most notably the Ba’al Shem Tov, who was a traveled Kabbalist, providing spiritual advice to those he met. He introduced mystic rituals where everything became spiritual. His students (i.e. Dov Ber) would later create the movement of Hasidism. But many Jews at that time were opposed to this new emerging movement. The Hasids were prayer enthusiasts. When they prayed, they would jump, clap, somersault, and even cry.

Despite opposition, Hasidism flourished and suffused through most of Eastern Europe. Chasidic Jews became part of the community, by serving as spiritual advisers, kashering meats, attending to the ill and deceased, and so on. They continued to thrive until the persecution of Jews in the Soviet Union and World War II either killed them or drove them to seek refuge elsewhere. Some Chasidim that escape traveled to America and began the movement which we see today in Brooklyn and beyond.

How Did Kabbalah Begin?

By Jeremy Shuback

What is Kabbalah and how did it begin? In this explainer video, we take you back in time to 13th Century Spain to learn more about this ancient Jewish tradition of mystic interpretations of the Torah and of G-d and how its influence has continued to shape Judaism today.

A Brief History of Modern Hebrew

Hebrew spoken today is not the same as the Hebrew in the Bible. But how did Hebrew come to be anyway? Watch our video to learn a brief history of Modern Hebrew featuring Joshua Mallett.

What is Masada?

Masada is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Israel but it has a very dark past. Watch our animated explainer video to learn the brief Jewish history of this large ancient fortress and how its story has changed overtime.

Masada is the hilltop site where a splinter group of Jewish zealots held out against the Romans for three years, a final act of rebellion after the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE. Eventually, the Romans built a giant ramp and took the location over. Rather than submitting, these 960 people committed suicide as one last act of rebellion.

What Was the Bar Kochba Revolt?

The Bar Kochba Revolt was a Jewish rebellion, led by Simon bar Kochba, against the Roman Empire that ultimately failed. Watch our explainer video to learn more about this important piece of Jewish history and how provides a lens into contemporary Israel.

How Did Judaism Get Its Name?

By Jeremy Shuback

Have you ever wondered what are the origins of Judaism? Why are Jews called “Jews”? For some religions, it’s pretty obvious. Christianity is named for Christ and Buddhism for Buddha. But what about Judaism?

Learn how Judaism got its name from Judah, the fourth son of Jacob, who would later become the founding member of the tribe.


What is Yom Ha’atzmaut?” video gives viewers a taste of how Israeli Independence Day started and is celebrated around the world, from the street parties and ceremonies in Israel, to festivals all around the world.



What is Tisha B’av?

Tisha B’av is the day of mourning in Judaism. On this day, the ninth of Av, a series of major tragedies of the Jewish people occurred including the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem.

It’s a day of mourning for getting kicked out of Israel, for the destruction of Jerusalem, the Medieval  expulsions from various lands. Watch our video to learn more about the significance and meaning behind this day.

Why Does the Jewish Calendar Change Every Year?

Why do Jewish holidays move around on the calendar? Why do we have Chanukah sometimes on Thanksgiving? Find some answers and learn more about how the Jewish calendar works in this video featuring Joshua Mallett.

The Hebrew calendar, or the Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar where as the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar. The Jewish calendar is synced to the moon so the first day of the month is a new moon and the 15th day of the month is a full moon.

Problem is a lunar calendar is 10 or 11 days short of the solar, Gregorian calendar. In order to keep up with the seasons, every three years or so (or seven times within a 19 year period), we add a whole extra month: Adar II. Adding an extra month helps prevent Passover from occurring in the winter and Chanukah from occurring in the fall!

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