In the whole world there is no city as beautiful as Damascus . . . There are also in Damascus 450 Jewish households, rich and honored merchants all of them, their head is a wise, honored, and pious Jew, R. Joseph, the physician.
—Rabbi Meshullam ben R. Menahem, 1481
The modern age is the Jewish age, and the twentieth century, in particular, is the Jewish Century. Modernization is about everyone becoming urban, mobile, literate, articulate, intellectually intricate, physically fastidious, and occupationally flexible. It is about how to cultivate people and symbols, not fields and herd.
—Yuri Slezkine, The Jewish Century, 2004
THE HISTORICAL JOURNEY IN THIS BOOK BEGAN IN 70 CE, WHEN THE Second Temple in Jerusalem ...