The Story of the Jews — Israel (2014), 5 episodes, PBS and the BBC
Simon Schama is a British professor at Columbia University, the author of fifteen books, and winner of an Emmy. In these five episodes he tells the story of three thousand years of Jewish history. Each episode is about 50 minutes long. You can watch the entire series online for free at pbs.org. The theme that connects the three thousand years is what it means to be a Jew, and how one stays a Jew in a non-Jewish world and in the face of annihilation and assimilation. The Israeli imagination, jokes one person, "is paranoia confirmed by history." One stays Jewish, Schama says, by fidelity to, even a compulsive loyalty for, the sacred story found in the Mosaic law. By the time of the last episode and the founding of the Jewish state after the Holocaust, Schama admits that the Jewish dream of ethical idealism struggles with the historical realities of raw power. I recommend this series with unqualified enthusiasm. The video series is based upon Schama's two-volume work of the same title.