Alexander the Great, or Alexander III of Macedon, is discussed in a legendary fashion in the Rabbinic sources, which describe him as a powerful yet fair-minded conqueror. Some Jewish sources have Alexander seeking advice from the Jewish sages to help him in his campaigns.
The Babylonian Exile (Galut Bavel) began in 586 BCE after Jerusalem and the Holy Temple were destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Fifty years later, under Persian King Cyrus the Great, the exiles were allowed to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple.
For the Jewish people, exile (galut) is viewed as both a punishment and way to make amends. The tension between exile from and return to Israel is a common theme in Jewish literature — from Abraham's exile to Egypt to the modern return of Jews to the state of Israel.
The Holocaust (Shoah) was the murder of some six million Jews in Europe by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1939 and 1945 during World War II. Nearly two-thirds of Europe’s Jews were murdered in the genocide, which changed the face of the continent forever.
King Yannai, or Alexander Jannaeus, was a Hasmonean king who expanded the kingdom of Judea but left a legacy of war and terrible treatment of Jewish scholars. The exception to this vicious treatment was his brother-in-law Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach, from whom he received counsel.
The Maccabees were fighters from a priestly Jewish family who successfully waged war against the Seleucids and rededicated the Second Temple in Jerusalem — which is now commemorated on Hanukkah. The Maccabees established the Hasmonean dynasty, which ruled from 167 BCE to 37 BCE.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an American reverend and leader of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. King advocated for Israel’s security and fought against antisemitism during the Civil Rights Movement alongside Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.