Our festivals and special days are the highlights of our calendar and most people know the basic stories that underlie them.  However, our appreciation of these events can be greatly enhanced if we have a better understanding of the historical and cultural milieux in which they arose.  The principal aim these lectures, therefore, is to provide an unfamiliar backdrop to familiar stories.  So, for example, whereas everyone knows that an Egyptian king enslaved our ancestors, Rabbi Forta's lecture will examine the contemporary social and economic conditions within Egypt itself that led Pharaoh to do that.  That the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple is well known; Rabbi Forta looks at the underlying incompatibilities of Jewish and Roman values that led the Jews to rebel in the first place. 
In these, and other lectures, Rabbi Forta will draw upon both classical Jewish commentary and modern archaeology and, where feasible, will present them together with computer generated maps and images taken from relevant archaeological material.