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B’nai Sholom Course Examines Development of a Split Jewish Diaspora in Antiquity

After the destruction of the Second Temple by Rome in 70 C.E., the diaspora of Jews of the East – Israel and Babylonia – developed very differently from those of the West – Egypt, northern Africa, Asia Minor and southeastern and southern Europe.

A course offered by B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation in Albany will examine this and other aspects of a split Jewish Diaspora.

“A Split Jewish Diaspora?” will be taught via Zoom Mondays beginning March 21, 10-11:45 a.m.

In addition to the obvious geographical divide, language served as a barrier between East and West, with the former speaking and writing Hebrew and Aramaic and the latter speaking and writing Greek. This linguistic gap led to a much deeper cultural gap. The course will discuss the theory that this discontinuity helps to explain the successful spread of earliest Christianity to the west, rather than to the east.

Course instructor Steven Stark-Riemer has taught about the scientific study of the biblical world since 2007.  He studied anthropology at City College of New York, where he specialized in archaeology, and received his degree in 1972.  He obtained field work experience at the Tel Gezer excavations in Israel under the direction of William G. Dever, director of the Hebrew Union College Biblical and Archaeological School at the time.  Stark-Riemer continues to pursue his interest in the archaeology, history and religion of the ancient Near East.

“A Split Jewish Diaspora?” is open to the public.  Fee for the eight-session course is $54 ($36 for B’nai Sholom members) and registration is required.  The class will not meet Monday, May 2.

For more information or to register, contact the B’nai Sholom office: 518-482-5283 or

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation in Albany is a home for contemporary Reform Judaism in the Capital Region.  Nearly 130 diverse households from six counties seek religious, educational and social fulfillment at B’nai Sholom.

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