New Jerusalem: the interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza

Baruch de Spinoza is a young merchant and the heir apparent of Saul Mortera, the chief Rabbi of Amsterdam. But Amsterdam’s Sephardic Jews have made a fatal arrangement with the city: They have agreed to police their own community for unorthodox beliefs. When the city accuses Spinoza of atheism, Mortera must summon Baruch to the synagogue to defend himself. Spinoza’s best friend, his sister and the woman he loves are all drawn into the controversy, a historical event that shook up not only the entire Jewish community of Amsterdam, but changed Spinoza’s and Mortera’s lives—and all of Western thought—irrevocably. No written record survives of what was said at Temple Talmud Torah on July 27, 1656.

In this eloquent and masterful drama, David Ives attempts to open the temple doors and let us listen in on a dispute whose philosophical and political echoes still reverberate today.