In Holocaust and the Return to Zion, Shubert Spero analyzes the idea of history from both a Jewish and a philosophical perspective, with emphasis on its special significance for Judaism. He traces the efforts of medieval, Renaissance, and modern Jewish thinkers to account for events of their times in historical and theological terms. Spero innovatively argues for a fresh evaluation of the great national upheavels of Jewish history, such as the destruction of the First and Second Temples, the expulsion from Spain, and the Holocaust, in terms of the geographic and intellecual changes they generated. In line with this, he suggests that the demography of world Jewry at the dawn of the modern era was providential. Since the majority of the Jewish people were the living in Europe, they were able to benefit from all the dramatic changes that ushered in the modern age: the Enlightenment, the Emancipation, the Industrial Revolution, and the rise of nationalism. Equally providential was the amazing increase in the Jewish population. By 1800 the Jews of the world had been reduced to about 2.5 million, with 2 million in Europe, but by 1880 they had increased to 7.5 million in spite of rampant assimiliation in the West. These factors led to increased antisemtsim but also to the rise of Zionism.
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