Important Events in Diaspora History
Following is a brief synopsis of what Jewish people endured as they wandered from country to country, trying to find rest. These expulsions and persecutions constitute the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds of thousands of Jewish people over the millennia were stripped of their jobs and property simply because they were Jewish. Even their children were taken from them. The Jewish people have been enslaved, persecuted, and forced to wear specific clothing identifying them as Jews as early as the eighth century. Although some sources disagree on the exact dates listed here, the events are well documented and indisputable.
722 BC – Assyria captures the northern kingdom of Israel and scatters the 10 tribes throughout the empire, beginning the Diaspora.
586 BC – Babylon sacks Jerusalem, burns the first Temple, and captures the southern kingdom of Judah.
539–538 BC – Persian King Cyrus allows the Jewish people to return to their land under Zerubbabel and rebuild their Temple.
167–160 BC – The Jewish people revolt against Seleucid ruler Antiochus Epiphanes and rededicate their Temple. This event led to Hanukkah.
AD 66–70 – The first Jewish revolt against Rome and subsequent Roman destruction of the second Temple.
115–117 – Second Jewish revolt against Rome.
132–135 – Bar Kokhba rebellion against Rome. Jewish people are scattered throughout the known world. Rome renames Jerusalem Aelia Capitolina and calls Judea, Samaria, and the Galilee Syria Palaestina.
200 – Yehuda HaNasi completes codifying the Mishnah, a compendium of Jewish Oral Law.
361–363 – Roman Emperor Julian lets Jewish people return to Jerusalem.
c. 450 – Jerusalem Talmud is written.
c. 550 – Babylonian Talmud is written.
610 – Muhammad introduces Islam.
c. 912–1013 – Golden Age of Jewish scholarship and culture in Spain.
1095–1291 – The Crusades. Declaring their intent to liberate the land of Christ’s birth from the Muslims, the Crusaders murder tens of thousands of Jewish people, calling them “Christ killers.”
1240 – England expels all Jews.
1290 – England expels all Jews again.
1306–1394 – France expels the Jewish people.
1346–1353 – Jewish people blamed for the bubonic plague and persecuted.
1478 – King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella institute the Spanish Inquisition, torturing Jews who had been forced to convert to Christianity.
1492 – Spain expels the Jewish people. Approximately 50 percent relocate to Poland.
1496 – Portugal and Germany expel the Jewish people.
1516 – First Jewish ghetto is established in Venice, Italy.
1534 – First Yiddish book is published in Poland.
1550 – Jewish people are expelled from Genoa, Italy.
1567 – The first Jewish university is established in Poland.
1626–1676 – False messiah Shabbetai Zevi arises.
1655 – Oliver Cromwell permits Jews to return to England.
1679 – Jews are expelled from Yemen.
1700–1760 – Hasidic Judaism is founded by Israel ben Eliezer, known as the Baal Shem Tov.
1740–1750 – Thousands of Jews return to their homeland in Palestine, ruled by the Ottoman Turks.
1775–1781 – American Revolution promises religious freedom for everyone.
1791 – Russia creates the Pale of Settlement on its western border with Europe and forces Jewish people to live there until 1917.
1800–1900 – Golden Age of Yiddish literature. Hebrew is again spoken.
1881–1884 – First major wave of pogroms begins. Three major waves will destroy thousands of Jews.
1897 – Theodor Herzl pens Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) after covering the hugely anti-Semitic trial of French Capt. Alfred Dreyfus. He later holds the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, which gave birth to the World Zionist Organization.
1905 – Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Adolf von Baeyer becomes the first Jewish Nobel Prize recipient. He received the award in chemistry.
1916 – U.S. President Woodrow Wilson appoints Louis Brandeis as the first Jewish justice of the Supreme Court.
1917 – England issues the Balfour Declaration, declaring its desire to create a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine.
1920 – The League of Nations establishes the British Mandate at the San Remo Conference, giving Britain control over Palestine with the stipulation it is to establish a homeland there for the Jewish people.
1939 – Great Britain issues the White Paper, restricting Jewish immigration to Palestine.
1938–1945 – The Holocaust. Under Adolf Hitler, the Nazis murder 6 million Jews, destroying roughly two thirds of European Jewry.
1947 – On November 29, the fledgling United Nations votes in Flushing Meadows in Queens, New York, to partition Palestine, returning to the Jewish people a small portion of their ancient homeland for a Jewish state.
1948 – On May 14, 1948, Israel declares its independence. Eleven minutes later, U.S. President Harry Truman bestows official recognition on the State of Israel.