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(This is a Jewish History topic, and thus hopefully won't be closed. I realize it may be somewhat subjective, but any well-reasoned argument would be helpful in showing which places and times have been better for Jews.)

Say it's the Year 70. The Romans have just trashed Jerusalem and exiled everyone. You can go anyplace available given the technology of the time. You'd like to plan out the next 1900 years (assuming a time traveler has handed you a history book) where you and your descendants should live. Your goals include:

  • Minimum number of relocations.
  • Highest possible quality of life. You may be free to practice your faith, but if everyone is starving or dying of diseases (significantly more than the typical rate for human civilization of your era), it's kind of moot.
  • Least anti-Semitic attacks, persecutions, or forced assimilation. (Or for that matter, avoid places/times where it's clear that almost everybody assimilated -- forced or otherwise.)
  • Live in a Jewish community, maintaining a connection to the outside world's Jewish mainstream. You'll at least need to get wind of the Yad HaChazaka circa 1200; ideally someplace where you'll obtain a Shulchan Aruch in the 1500s as well.

Ashkenaz, Sefard, Edot Mizrach, you name it.

What's the best strategy? (Well, at the very least -- suggest a good strategy!)

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  • China would be my best guess. Marco Polo came in the 12th century, presumably others as well, so the option to get the Rambam was possible as well as the Shulchan Aruch in the 1500’s when many more Europeans traveled there. No persecutions (although no Jews either so we wouldn’t know). You’d probably travel with a group of families and build your own community there
    – Chatzkel
    Sep 16 at 2:49
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    Can you explain how this is about Judaism?
    – Isaac Moses
    Sep 16 at 4:22
  • Yemen. Or become a Karait.
    – pcoz
    Sep 16 at 5:13
  • It's my attempt at a clever rephrasing (akin to what you'd find on other StackExchange pages) of "which Jewish population has arguably suffered the least?" ... which affects everything from what you say in Selichot to how often you pray about martyrs to how far you expanded the Talmud's requirement of mourning before the 9th of Av to how you read Akedat Yitzchak to whether you follow the Talmud's rule of "don't marry someone without seeing them first" vs. attempt to hand-wave that "oh we can't do that because conditions are too dangerous and miserable'...
    – Shalom
    Sep 16 at 11:09
  • @Chatzkel No persecution? I don't think you know Chinese history that well. Chinese emperors routinely oppressed their own people, let alone foreigners. They also developed the philosophy of Confucianism to try and keep people under the government's control.
    – ezra
    Sep 16 at 13:35

2 Answers 2

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A strong case could be made for the island of Djerba off the coast of Tunisia. A group of several hundred Jews led by Temple Service Cohenim arrived there after the destruction of the first Beit haMikdash, so a strong Jewish community was already in place. The island is on the Mediterrenean, and so was in contact with the major centers of Jewish learning throughout history, but given its remote location, it was far enough from centers of power to avoid forced conversions or expulsions.

As for avoiding relocation, there are still over a thousand Jews living there today, some of whom claim to be able to trace their ancestry to that first boatload of Cohenim.

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The first part of my strategy would be to reconsider my goals.

Relocation, is, what primarily has saved the Jewish people. Holding on to a specific region or area is not the strategy route for survival. I would be open and willing to relocate.

For a high quality of life, living near ports or large epicenters, anywhere with an access to commerce or trade routes, would be ideal. These areas are wealthier and lead to higher quality life, such as access to more foods and service, ie. fresh foods and doctors. This also plays into obtaining Jewish books and culture through trade routes and visiting rabbis.

In terms of attacks, persecutions, and forced assimilation, I would refer back to the ability to relocate. It is far easier to move away from war and persecution than to find the root of evil and try to change its ways (if that is even possible). Practically speaking this would mean living in the suburbs of a city or in a city itself, and being wealthy enough to travel, if necesssary.

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    If you're going to reconsider goals, reconsider the requirement for quality of life. You should stay in Israel and support whoever comes through however you can. What quality is there to life elsewhere?
    – Double AA
    Sep 16 at 0:37
  • That is not a sustainable way of living, to give away everything that you own in order to help others. That is frowned upon in the Shulchan Aruch and sections of the Tanakh.
    – Alexander
    Sep 16 at 0:47
  • You've successfully attacked a straw-man
    – Double AA
    Sep 16 at 0:48
  • However, that is true faith, true bitachon, and should be strived for in all our ways. It just requires a balance with practicality and the physical world in which we live.
    – Alexander
    Sep 16 at 0:51

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