SURVIVAL CHALLENGE LEVEL 7: THE UMAYYAD CALIPHATE

Maimonides! How did he manage to survive such personal hardship and tragedy, and rise up to make such a magnificent contribution to Jewish, and human, history? Why was he subject to such searing criticism in his life and in the following century? What can we learn from Maimonides’ approach to the leadership crises of today? Also, although we could have included a unit on the experience of women in each of the existential crises (maybe we will in the future), research from the Geniza provides us with just a hint of the life of an exceptional Jewish woman in Egypt.

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Introduction

So much history, so little time! Although there’s a lot to talk about, we are going to take a narrow focus in the Ummayad Caliphate and look at one towering figure in particular: the Great Eagle himself, Moses Maimonides (the Rambam). His own life was a macrocosm of Jewish survival for the era. The historical record on the experience of women in the Ummayad Caliphate (as in most pre-modern periods) is unfortunately fairly thin; however the Geniza provides us with a remarkable view of the experience of Wusha the Broker.

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