The Story of the Jews with Simon Schama, Parts  3, 4 & 5

The Story of the Jews with Simon Schama, Parts 3, 4 & 5

Tuesday, April 1,  8:00-11:00 p.m.

Simon Schama concludes his history of a people whose mark on the world has been out of all proportion to its modest numbers.

At 8:00 p.m,. "Leap of Faith" explores the bright, hopeful moment when Enlightenment thinkers and revolutionary armies brought ghetto walls crashing down — allowing Jews to weave their wisdom, creativity and energies into the very fabric of modern life in Europe. However, the remarkably successful integration of Jewish talent into the mainstream of European culture and commerce stirred up the ghosts of ancient prejudice, decked out in the new clothes of romantic nationalism and the pseudo-science of anti-semitism.

At nine o'clock, "Over the Rainbow" plunges viewers into the lost world of the shtetl, the Jewish towns and villages sewn across the hinterlands of Eastern Europe, which became the seedbed of a uniquely Jewish culture. Shtetl culture would make its mark on the modern world. It was also the birthplaces of Hasidism, the most visible, iconic and, arguably, most misunderstood expression of Jewish faith and fervor. The program returns, with grim inevitability, to Eastern Europe in 1940, where the genocidal mechanisms of the “final solution” were beginning to grind the shtetl world into dust and ash.

The concluding hour, "The Return," examines how the Holocaust and the creation of Israel have fundamentally changed what it means to be Jewish. Mixing personal recollection with epic history, Schama tells the story of the remarkable personalities and unprecedented events that turned the Zionist dream of creating a modern state of Israel into reality — and the consequences for the world.

Main photo: Simon Schama at the Berlin Holocaust Memorial, Germany.

At right: Old Torah, sacred document of Judaism.