Zionist Dialogue

Historian Tells ‘The Story of the Jews’ From His Own Perspective

By Herbert Belkin

Images by Tim Kirby ©Oxford Film & Television 2012
Simon Schama at Ben Ezra Synagogue, Cairo, Egypt.

When most academic historians discuss a particular historical period, they do so at arm’s length — as if they were commenting from behind a curtain. Not so for Simon Schama, an author, fully credentialed historian, professor at Columbia University and host of the five-part television series, “The Story of the Jews.” The series is a rich mixture of 3,000 years of Jewish history, and Schama’s personal involvement in the story of his people.

As Schama explains, historians must find a midpoint between projecting their personal experience on historical events, and being “too remote; too distant.” Admirably, Schama has found that vital midpoint.

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