Studying (Jewish) Culture, Understanding Diasporas

Two approaches to be discussed in class this week.

First, the “linguistic model” (a tree…):

Then, a “mind map”:

Ward Shelley's Jewish Diaspora Painted Mindmap

And, finally, a visual approach to Jewish liturgical diversity that combines both models:

Historical Map of Jewish Liturgies (Nusḥaot-Tree-2.4.5)

If it all seems cryptic, it’s because–at least in my view–it has a lot to do with labyrinths…


A Historical Map of Jewish Liturgical Diversity

Historical Map of Jewish Liturgies (Nusḥaot-Tree-2.4.5)

This map, which was created by Aharon Varady and posted at, is one of the best resources I’ve ever seen describing the rainbow of Jewish identities. Hat tip to its creator for summarizing so much in so little space, and with so much clarity.

We will spend some time in class going over (and over, and over again) this. (But you could try to match its various boxes and threads with your readings this week… then we can get to the music!)

Painting the Jewish Diaspora

Ward Shelley's Jewish Diaspora Painted Mindmap

This painted “mindmap” was created by Ward Shelley. I found it here. Make sure you click on it and view it full screen, and expand it to see its details.

I’ve published other diaspora maps and timelines in my “Jewish History in 20 Minutes” blog post, which I’m also re-posting below:

With all apologies to our colleagues in the History Department…

There are some strange resources online. I looked at this (a little simplistic, and only about the Jews, as if a diasporic culture did not always constantly interact with major, and minor, events), then I looked at this (according to this “Jewish timeline,” Adam and Eve were created in 3760 BCE), and also at this (a maniacally granular, decade-by-decade, month-by-month, “history of the Jewish people”). Wow.

Of course, you can read UC Berkeley’s John Efron, The Jews: A History (2009).

Or you can summarize several thousands of years in one image: the world, and its history, painted on a clover leaf, with Jerusalem at its core (1581).

Die gantze Welt in ein Kleberblat, welches in der Stadt Hannover, meines lieben Vaterlandes WapenDie Gantze Welt in ein Kleberblat, welches in der Stadt Hannover, meines lieben Vaterlandes Wapen 

Author: Bèunting, Heinrich
Publisher: [s.n.]
Date: 1581.

Scale: Scale not given.
Call Number: G3200 1581.B8

From The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center (NBL Map Center) at the Boston Public Library (BPL).

More and more maps can be found online. Here are my favorite resources: