Segments in this Video

Abraham: Father of the Children of Israel (02:38)


The biblical Abraham heeds the call of God and moves from Mesopotamia to Canaan 4,000 years ago. The first major tradition of the Jewish faith is male circumcision. Egypt enslaved a large community of the Israelites.

Jewish History: Moses and the Passover (03:18)

God selects Moses to get the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt. God sends 10 plagues to Egypt, including the killing of Egypt's first-born males. From this event in which the children of Israel are spared arose the celebration of Passover.

Jewish History: Ten Commandments and Torah (03:13)

The Children of Israel leave Egypt in search of the Promised Land. They wander 40 years in a desert where God give them the Ten Commandments and a collection of texts called the Torah.

Unification of Jews (02:39)

Law for the ancient Israelites includes every aspect of Jewish life. The Ten Commandments and the Torah unify the ancient Jewish people beyond tribal unity. The temple in Jerusalem becomes a center of religion and politics.

Jewish History: Babylonian Conquest (02:39)

Four hundred years after the temple in Jerusalem was built, the Babylonians destroy it. The Persian Empire assimilates the Jewish people into their culture and allows them to rebuild their temple in Jerusalem.

Jewish History: Roman Conquest of Jewish People (04:24)

In the first century of the common era, the Jews rebel against their Roman overlords. In the year 70 C.E., the Romans destroy the temple for a second time in Jewish history. The Jews begin to scatter throughout the Roman Empire.

Jewish Oral Tradition: Talmud and Rabbinic Judaism (04:08)

The Talmud is a collection of conversations and debates, a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, customs, and history. The Judaism of today arises from this Rabbinic period.

Talmud and Survival of Judaism (01:42)

Rabbis interpret the Hebrew bible for the needs of the current day. Experts assert that Jews survived because they venerated the sacred texts of their religion and people. The Talmud is the core of Jewish identity for centuries.

Threat to Jews: Christianity and Islam (03:48)

The Romans enact laws that are oppressive to Jews. They are prohibited from holding political positions and from testifying against Christians in court. Islam rules 80% of the Jewish population.

Importance of Jewish Texts (03:10)

Jews turn to their traditions and texts to solidify their identity as a people even while under Muslim or Christian rule. In Iberia (Spain), Jews flourish under Muslim rule.

Ashkenazi Jews (03:46)

By the 9th century, Jews migrate from Mediterranean lands to parts of northern and central Europe. Anti-Semitism emerges, and in 1096, the Crusades begin. Many Jews are killed by angry, Christian mobs.

Middle Ages: Persecution of the Jews (04:13)

Throughout the Middle Ages, anti-Semitism intensifies. Jews are falsely blamed for the Black Death. Unable to find jobs, many Jews become moneylenders. Jews rely on ancient texts and traditions to survive as a people.

Eastern European Jewish Communities (04:50)

Towards the end of the Middle Ages, Jews move eastward towards Poland, Lithuania, and the Russian Empire. Over time, the Jews in Eastern Europe develop tightly knit communities and develop a new language, Yiddish.

Zionism Movement (03:13)

The Russian Empire expands, bringing millions of Jews into its population. In the late 19th century, destruction of Jewish property and pogroms flourish. More restrictive laws are enacted. Out of this arises a secular, political Zionism movement.

Jews in America/Jews in the USSR (02:16)

Between the 1880s and the 1920s, between 2 and 3 million Jews arrive in America. They set about building Jewish schools and synagogues. Socialist Russia seemed a viable solution for those Jews who remained in the USSR.

Jews and the Holocaust (02:11)

Hitler's wish was to annihilate the Jews through mass murders and imprisonment. In the Warsaw ghetto, Jews collected archives that were found after the war. Hitler systematically murdered one-third of the world's population of Jews.

Creation of State of Israel (04:12)

In the aftermath of WWII, the victorious Allies debate the fate of the Jews. They decided to make the state of Israel as a new home for hundreds of thousands of Jews. End Part I.

Survival of Judaism (05:10)

Professor Alan Dershowits of Harvard University discusses the importance of Jewish survival over the centuries.

Jewish Identity (02:23)

Author Fran Lebowitz discusses Jewish identity and cultural changes. Jewish immigrants, unlike other ethnic immigrants, have little nostalgia for the "old country."

What It Means to Be Jewish (04:45)

Author Gary Shteyngart discusses what it was like for Jewish children living in the USSR. He first felt anti-Semitism directed at him when he migrated to the US.

Land of Israel: Return of the Jewish People (06:52)

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, who is also an author, discusses the veneration he learned to have for Israel and the experiences he had living in Israel. The return to Israel is significant to Jewish people, as it is the land of their liberation.

Abraham and Monotheism (04:34)

Ancient Mesopotamian influences on Judaism can be found in texts such as the "Code of Hammurabi." The Bible is not clear about why Abraham left Ur, yet he was clearly a monotheist on his journey towards Canaan.

Creation of Judaic Tradition (03:30)

According to the biblical story, the Judaic tradition begins only at the revelation on Mt. Sinai. Jewish scholars refer to the time before that as the "Patriarchal Period."

Historical Documents and Israelite Tradition (04:11)

There are only limited resources for historians to understand the period between Abraham and Moses. No texts speak of a Judaic tradition prior to the revelation to Moses on Mt. Sinai.

Jews in 18th-Century Russia (07:25)

Michael Stanislawski of Columbia University discusses Jewish history within the context of 18th-century Russia.

Bond of Judaism Throughout History (05:53)

A continuous, linear link exists between the Jews of antiquity and Eastern European Jewry. The continuity is both geographic and genealogical.

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The Jewish People: A Story of Survival—Educator's Edition

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $199.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $299.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $199.95



Despite centuries of suffering and displacement, the fabric of Jewish culture has never broken. This program examines the theme of survival and its connection to Jewish achievements. Viewers will encounter a wide range of topics, including the origins of Judaism, the world’s first major monotheistic religion; the flourishing of Jewish scholarship through Talmudic learning and Rabbinic Judaism; the golden age of Jewish creativity at the height of Islamic power; and the post-Holocaust continuity of the Jews as a people, a state, and a collective voice. Archival images and documents accompany interviews with Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, Prof. Alan Dershowitz of Harvard University, Prof. Lawrence H. Schiffman of NYU, Prof. Christine Hayes of Yale, Rabbi Brad Hirschfield of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, and others. Bonus material (DVD only) features extended interviews not included in the broadcast version. (59 minutes + 45 minutes of bonus material)

Length: 106 minutes

Item#: BVL39716

ISBN: 978-1-60467-640-2

Copyright date: ©2007

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

“A hallmark of this documentary is its whirlwind pace which lacks political posturing or comparative religious philosophy. Recommended.” —School Library Journal


“An impressive and surprisingly rigorous feat of synthesis that roots itself in the lesser-known aspects of Jewish life during the ancient world.” —The New York Times


“Beautifully produced and visually arresting.” —Chicago Tribune

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.