PART ONE: LECTURE

Wikipedia:

Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides for "Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon", was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages. He was born in Córdoba, Almoravid Empire (present-day Spain) on Passover Eve, 1135, and died in Egypt (or Tiberias) on 20th Tevet, December 12, 1204. He was a rabbi, physician and philosopher in Morocco and Egypt. Although his writings on Jewish law and ethics were met with acclaim and gratitude from most Jews even as far off as Spain, Iraq and Yemen, and he rose to be the revered head of the Jewish community in Egypt, there were also vociferous critics of some of his rulings and other writings particularly in Spain. Nevertheless, he was posthumously acknowledged to be one of the foremost rabbinical arbiters and philosophers in Jewish history, his copious work a cornerstone of Jewish scholarship. His fourteen-volume Mishneh Torah still carries canonical authority as a codification of Talmudic law. In the Yeshiva world he is known as "haNesher haGadol" (the great eagle) in recognition of his outstanding status as a bona fide exponent of the Oral Torah. In Latin, the Hebrew "ben" (son of) becomes the Greek−style suffix "-ides" to form "Moses Maimonides".

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READING

Jane Gerber,

Jews of Spain: A History of the Sephardic Experience,

Free Press (January 31, 1994) paperback edition,

ISBN 0029115744

From Publishers Weekly:

"Before the brutal expulsion of 300,000 Jews from Spain in 1492, Sephardic Jews thrived on the Iberian peninsula for more than a millennium, as Gerber relates in this stirring and riveting saga, a remarkable story of creative adaptation, minority achievement and survival. During the Golden Age of Spanish Jewry, Sephardim excelled in medicine, science, philosophy, music and literature. Columbus, evasive about his origins, kept close company with Jews, and several Jewish converts sailed with him. Gerber, director of the City University of New York's Graduate Center's Institute for Sephardic Studies, charts the haunted lives of "New Christians," secret Jews who were persecuted by the Inquisition, from Mexico to Peru, and surveys Sephardic communities that flourished openly from Romania, Syria and Turkey to the U.S. and Barbados. She examines the tensions between impoverished Ashkenazim (Jews of middle and northern Europe) and aristocratic Sephardim throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Betrayals and horrors of WW II and the Holocaust reinforced Sephardic Jews' resolve to leave the Muslim world, and Gerber incisively looks at today's Sephardic communities in Israel, France, the U.S. and Spain. Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

"In 1492, the Jews were expelled from Spain, ending a centuries-long relationship with their Islamic and then Christian masters. During a part of this time, a veritable medieval golden age of poets and philosophers had flourished. Judah Halevi and Moses Maimonides are just two of the age's legendary figures whose works are still avidly read today. However, as Gerber reminds us, the Spanish or Sephardic Jewish experience did not end in 1492. Sephardic colonies sprouted all along the Mediterranean and in the sea-faring countries of Europe. Jews looked toward the New World too. Gerber tells their continuing story in a lively, readable, yet learned manner." Paul Kaplan, Dakota Cty. Lib., Eagan, Minn. Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Herbert Le Porrier,

The Doctor from Cordova,

Doubleday; 1st edition (1979),

ISBN 0385114729

PART TWO: DVD

More from Simon Schama on the Jews of Spain.