The purpose of this podcast is to provide the larger context to the situation in the Middle East. The history will be provided through audio recordings of my late father, Dr. David Neiman –an expert on the history of the ancient near east and the relationship between the Church and the Jews. He based his theses on historical records, linguistics and a deep understanding of the Bible and its origins.


  • Purim: The Same Old Story

    Purim: The Same Old Story

    03/03/2015 Duração: 22min

    Megillath Esther tells the story of a close call for the Jews, when a great threat, posed by the evil minister Haman, was thwarted by the beautiful Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai. The Purim story describes what would become a template for future cycles of anti-Jewish hatred. In this podcast Dr. David Neiman gives a dramatic account of the battles of Salamis and Thermopylae. It is at these battles that the Persian empire was defeated by the up-and-coming Greeks. This loss created a fertile environment for the events that would later occur in Megillath Esther.

  • Paris - Still Burning

    Paris - Still Burning

    28/01/2015 Duração: 16min

    The phenomenon of Jews returning to Israel did not start after World War II, it began hundreds of years earlier. After the collapse of the Crusader kingdoms in the 13th century, Jews started returning to Israel. The driving force behind this migration was the growing anti-Jewish agitation on the European continent. One of the most destructive flare-ups of anti-Jewish hatred in medieval Europe was the Great Bonfire of Paris where thousands of Jewish books were burned. Following the disputation of Paris, a great debate was organized in Spain between Pablo Christiani, a Jewish convert to Catholicism and Rabbi Moshe Ben Nachman a renowned Jewish scholar. The Disputation of Barcelona was held in the year 1263. Following this event Rabbi Nachman was forced to leave Spain. He moved to Jerusalem and founded a Yeshiva.

  • January: A Time For Reformation

    January: A Time For Reformation

    12/01/2015 Duração: 18min

    In January of 1518 Martin Luther's "95 Thesis", an attack on the sale of Indulgences by the Catholic Church, was translated and distributed through a revolutionary technology - the printing press. Martin Luther captured the spirit of the moment with his thesis. The publication of this tract, gave voice to the sentiments of a heretofore-silent majority in Northern Europe.

  • Time And Space For The New Year

    Time And Space For The New Year

    29/12/2014 Duração: 15min

    The official practice of numbering the years in sequence started with the emperor Seleucus. He chose 311 B.C.E., the year he came to power, as the year One. The Seleucid system was adopted by the Jews of Babylon who referred to this newly accepted practice as the "era of dating legal documents". About 700 years later the Jews of Babylonia recalculated the number for the Jewish calendar and that is the dating system used today. Today, the majority of the world uses the Egyptian solar calendar. The following clips discuss the development of this new way of marking time. Other calculations such as the number of hours of the day, are a human invention. This podcast also explores the sophistication of astronomy and math in the ancient world and the reconciliation of the solar and lunar calendar systems.

  • Jesus: Another Jewish Over Achiever

    Jesus: Another Jewish Over Achiever

    22/12/2014 Duração: 16min

    This episode of Context explores the Jewish character of Jesus, as described in the Gospels. Dr. David Neiman reads passages from the New Testament that paint a portrait of Jesus as a normal first century Jewish boy from a modest, traditional Jewish family. The words of Jesus, as recorded in the Gospels, are replete with references from Jewish literature, both traditional texts and popular works of the 1st Century AD such at Pirkei Avot, “The Wisdom of the Fathers”. The people of Judea in the 1st century were split into a number of factions that crossed the political spectrum. Jesus’ words indicate that his attention was focused on preaching to his fellow Jews. Jesus’ world outlook was apocalyptic. He had a vision of an upcoming conflict that promised to be very violent.

  • Its All Greek To Me - The Complicated Story of Hanukkah

    It's All Greek To Me - The Complicated Story of Hanukkah

    14/12/2014 Duração: 38min

    It’s no surprise that winter holidays around the world have light as their central theme. So too is the case with Hanukkah where we celebrate the miracle of the olive oil that fueled the Menorah at the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem by the Maccabees in 164 B.C.E. But as you might expect, the story of Hanukkah is a lot more complicated than one might imagine. Getting to that olive oil is a journey through the dissolution Alexander the Great’s empire and the first clash between Greece and Rome. The events in ancient Israel are just a small part of an extended regional war.

  • When Empires Weaken

    When Empires Weaken

    08/12/2014 Duração: 15min

    The Muslim conquests of the 7th Century marked the definitive end to the power of Rome. By the time of Muhammad, Rome had been engaged in a war with the Persian empire that had endured for more than a hundred years. Rome and Persia were worn out. They had exhausted their resources. The collapse of those empires gave rise to the Islamic age. The audio segment in this podcast of Dr. David Neiman was recorded in January of 2001. It is part of a larger series of classroom lectures on the history of the Jews of Spain –the country where the Muslim, Christian and Jewish worlds collide. Dr. Neiman explores the socio-political situation that existed in the Arabian Peninsula at the time of Muhammad – an environment that was evidently fertile ground for the creation of this powerful new religion.

  • The A word with Dry Bones – Yaakov Kirschen

    The "A" word with Dry Bones – Yaakov Kirschen

    24/11/2014 Duração: 52min

    Anti-Jewish prejudice existed before Islam and before Christianity. Opinions critical of Jews were recorded in ancient, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. To discuss the issue of anti-Jewish hatred, or the "A" word, I am joined via Skype, with Israeli cartoonist, Yaakov Kirschen, creator of the Dry Bones comic strip. Dry Bones is internationally syndicated and has been in publication in the Jerusalem Post and other outlets for over 40 years. Dry Bones has been quoted or reprinted by the NY Times, Time magazine, LA Times, Newsweek, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Times of London, The Guardian and CNN among others. Kirschen is the author of a Yale University paper on the use of Antisemitic codes in political cartoons. The interview with Yaakov Kirschen is followed by an audio segment from a classroom recording of my late father, Dr. David Neiman on the topic of historical anti-Semitism. - Becky Neiman

  • A DNA match with history

    A DNA match with history

    18/11/2014 Duração: 16min

    This episode was inspired by recent study that was conducted by Columbia University and published in the journal, Nature Communications. The researchers found that all Ashkenazi Jews are descended from a 350 person “bottleneck” that occurred a mere 600 to 800 years ago. The idea seems incredible, that the origins of such a large and successful segment of the Jewish people could be so recent. But the science corresponds perfectly with the history. In 1244 the process of creating an agreement began and in 1264 the "Charter of Boleslav" was signed. The Jews of Western Europe were invited to run the business of the Polish princes. The charter guaranteed certain rights and protections for the Jews and resulted in a long period of prosperity and growth in Eastern Europe.

  • Stepping in a Kurd

    Stepping in a Kurd

    13/11/2014 Duração: 09min

    Six years ago I posted a video on YouTube about the ancient kingdom of Assyria. I had no idea what a firestorm of comments this video segment would ignite. It seems that the mention of the geographical region of "Kurdistan" was incendiary. Since the video was uploaded, pages and pages of comments have been posted. Some are angry rants and others are detailed explanations of the history of the region. When this lecture was recorded in the year 2000, it would have been impossible to predict the central role the Kurds would play in the unfolding crisis in the region. The comments shed light on the deeply entrenched prejudices, hatreds and conflicts that revolve around the Kurdish people and the area in which they live. In this podcast I read some of the comments that I have received which give a good overview of various positions, followed by the audio from the original video clip. Controversial? You decide.

  • 31.7780° N, 35.2354° E - The Dome of the Rock

    31.7780° N, 35.2354° E - The Dome of the Rock

    13/11/2014 Duração: 11min

    If there ever was an energy vortex on this planet, it is the rock in the center of The Dome of the Rock. Jews believe it is the place where Abraham took Isaac for sacrifice. Muslims believe that it was Ishmael who was chosen by Abraham for the same task. Jews believe it is the site of the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctuary of the Jewish Temple. Muslims believe that Muhammed ascended to heaven from that same spot. Christians have their own history of attempting to control this highly-charged geographical location. This podcast tells of the first dispute over the Temple Mount after the second Jewish Temple was destroyed.

  • CONTEXT: The Lord, The Land, The Law

    CONTEXT: The Lord, The Land, The Law

    11/11/2014 Duração: 25min

    Father Felix F. Talbot, SJ was a colleague of my father’s in the theology department at Boston College, a Catholic university outside of Boston. “He likes to make up clever little devices to help his students remember things”, my father told me. “The lord, the land, the law” was the mnemonic device Father Talbot used to help his students remember the three elements that define the Jewish people: the conception of one god, a connection to the land of Israel and the law of the Bible. This podcast explores the history and concepts behind these elements.