About the Author


Rabbi Ken Spiro

Rabbi Ken Spiro, originally from New Rochelle, NY, graduated from Vassar College with a BA in Russian Language and Literature and did graduate studies at the Pushkin Institute in Moscow. He has rabbinic ordination from Aish Jerusalem and a Masters Degree in History from Vermont College of Norwich University. Rabbi Spiro is also a licensed tour guide by the Israel Ministry of Tourism. He has appeared on numerous radio and TV programs such as BBC, National Geographic Channel and The History Channel. He lives near Jerusalem with his wife and five children, where he works as a senior lecturer for Aish Jerusalem.


Crash Course in Jewish History is "a comprehensive, thoughtful and highly educational survey of Jewish history.” - Sir Martin Gilbert

In one volume, Crash Course in Jewish History explores the 4,000 years of Jewish existence while answering the great questions:  Why have the Jewish people been so unique, so impactful, yet so hated and so relentlessly persecuted?

Crash Course in Jewish History is not only comprehensive and readable, it is also entertaining and enlightening. Novices and scholars alike will find Crash Course in Jewish History to be thought-provoking and insightful, as well as a valuable and relevant guide to understanding the challenges we all face in the 21st century.

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History Crash Course #46: Blood Libel

Christian accusations leveled against the Jews were extreme and irrational.

History Crash Course #45: The Crusades

The Crusaders came to liberate the Holy Land from the "infidels" - and woe to any Jew who stood in their way.

History Crash Course #44: The Jews of Spain

Spain was the Medieval golden land of opportunity for Jews.

History Crash Course #43: The Jews of Babylon

The oldest and most stable of Jewish communities was spared the ravages of holy warriors.

History Crash Course #42: Rise of Islam

Mohammed reacted with anger when Jews refused to recognize him as the last of the prophets.

History Crash Course #41: From Paul to Constantine

Early Christianity attracted those unwilling to take on all of Judaism's precepts.

History Crash Course #40: Seeds of Christianity

At a time of cruel oppression, splinter sects spring up in belief that the apocalypse is at hand.

History Crash Course #39: The Talmud

In a time of chaos, the sages do the unprecedented and write down the Oral Law.

History Crash Course #38: Exile

The Romans sought to extinguish Jewish presence in Jerusalem by renaming Israel to Palestine.

History Crash Course #37: Bar Kochba Revolt

Despite the disastrous results of the Great Revolt, the Jews revolt yet again.

History Crash Course #35: Destruction of the Temple

On the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, the 9th of Av, the Temple burns to the ground.

History Crash Course #34: War For Jerusalem

The Jewish nation fights to save its spiritual center.

History Crash Course #33: The Great Revolt

In a seemingly suicidal move, the Jews take on the mighty Romans.

History Crash Course #32: Hillel and Shammai

In a time when many things were going wrong for the Jews, the sages Hillel and Shammai defined what was going right.

History Crash Course #31: Herod the Great

A madman who murdered his own family and many rabbis, Herod was also the greatest builder in Jewish history.

History Crash Course #30: The Romans

Jewish tradition maintains the Romans were descendants of Esau, the bloodthirsty brother of Jacob.

History Crash Course #29: Revolt of the Maccabees

The Jewish revolt against the Greeks sets a precedent as the world's first religious war.

History Crash Course #28: Greek Persecution

Terror reigned -- women were killed with babies tied around their necks.

History Crash Course #27: The Greek Empire

To the Greeks, what was beautiful was holy; to the Jews, what was holy was beautiful. These views were bound to clash.

History Crash Course #26: The Great Assembly

Extraordinary sages define the essence of Judaism for the Jews of Israel and the Diaspora.

History Crash Course #25: The Second Temple

The Holy Temple is rebuilt, but is not the same with the Ark of the Covenant missing.

History Crash Course #24: Purim in Persia

A feast celebrating God's abandonment of Israel puts into motion Haman's plot to annihilate the Jews.

Archaeology and the Exodus

One rabbi asserts that the Exodus never happened. What role does archaeology play in verifying Biblical events?

History Crash Course #23: Babylonian Exile

The Babylonians think God has abandoned the Jews and celebrate. But they have a surprise coming.

History Crash Course #22: The End of Israel

The Kingdom of Judah lasts another of 134 years before it falls.

History Crash Course #21: Assyrian Conquest

The Assyrians conquer northern Israel and vanquish the nation with exile.

History Crash Course #20: A Divided Nation

The 10 northern tribes secede, splitting Israel in two.

History Crash Course #19: King Solomon

King Solomon, the wisest of all men, built the Temple in Jerusalem and reigned over Israel's golden age.

History Crash Course #18: David: The King

King David established Jerusalem as Israel's capital over 3,000 years ago.

History Crash Course #17: David: Shepherd & Warrior

Still too young to fight in the army, David becomes Israel's champion when he slays Goliath.

History Crash Course #16: King Saul

King Saul was a great man who committed one terrible mistake, dooming his reign from the start.

History Crash Course #15: The Time of the Judges

Jewish guidance came from the "judges," who were both warriors and prophets.

History Crash Course #13: The Tragedy of the Spies

Every major disaster in Jewish history is connected to the 9th of Av. It all began with the 12 spies.

History Crash Course #12: The Golden Calf

Only a tiny portion of Jews participate in worshiping the golden calf. So why blame the whole nation?

History Crash Course #11: Mount Sinai

The encounter between God and the Jews at Mount Sinai was a totally unique event in all of human history.

History Crash Course #10: Ten Plagues

With the Ten Plagues, the laws of nature are turned upside down to free the Jews.

History Crash Course #9: Moses

In an all-time irony, Moses the savior of the Jewish people is raised in the house of the enemy of the Jews.

History Crash Course #8: Reunion

To remedy the family animosity, Joseph sets the stage for a great test.

History Crash Course #7: Joseph

Joseph demonstrates a classic pattern: The Jew arrives impoverished, works hard, and rises to the top.

History Crash Course #6: Isaac and His Sons

History repeats: The groove that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob carve will be for their descendants.

History Crash Course #5: The Promised Land

God gave Abraham the Land of Israel as a laboratory to create a model nation for the world.

History Crash Course #4: Abraham's Journey

Abraham gave rise to a nation of Hebrews -- people who live "on the other side."

History Crash Course #3: The World of Abraham

By understanding the character of Abraham, the "proto-Jew", one can understand what Jews are all about.

History Crash Course #2: The Bible as History

An enormous amount of information in the Bible has been borne out by archeology, through indirect or circumstantial evidence.

History Crash Course #1: Why Study History

Jewish history teaches not only to avoid past mistakes, but to understand where destiny is leading us.

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