Faith of Fallen Jews
Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi and the Writing of Jewish History
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Brandeis University Press
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Title Page, Series Page, Copyright
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The editors would like to thank the Columbia Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies, and its director, Professor Jeremy Dauber, for its generous subvention of this volume. It is especially fitting that the institute, which Yosef Yerushalmi headed for more than a quarter-century, has supported this project. Thanks are also due to the Robert Burr Endowed...
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Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi (1932–2009) was one of the most eminent Jewish historians of the twentieth century. Yerushalmi possessed a stunning range of erudition in all eras of Jewish history, as well as in world history, classical literature, and European culture. The sweep of his knowledge was perhaps matched only by Amos Funkenstein (1937–1995), his...
Part I — Self-Reflection
1 | To the Russian Reader
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The following is the English original of the preface to the Russian-language translation of Zakhor, published in Moscow in 2004. Although Zakhor was translated into eight languages, Yosef Yerushalmi professed a special feeling for the Russian version, even though he could not read it....
2 | Words Delivered on the Occasion of Receiving an Honorary Doctorate from the École Pratique des Hautes Études
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This short speech afforded Yosef Yerushalmi the opportunity to reflect on his connection to the language and culture of France. He recalled his first teacher of French as a boy, as well as his wide reading of French literature in college, where he served as president of the Yeshiva College French Club....
Part II — Early Patterns
3 | Baer’s History, Translated and Revisited
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This review of the English translation of Yitzhak Baer’s History of the Jews in Christian Spain was published in 1966, the year in which Yerushalmi, then thirty-four years old, completed his Ph.D. and took up a position at Harvard University. The journal in which it appeared, Conservative Judaism, was the scholarly organ of the Rabbinical Assembly, the national association of Conservative rabbis affiliated...
4 | A Jewish Historian in the “Age of Aquarius”
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This lecture was delivered in 1970 as a commencement address for graduates of Hebrew College in Brookline, Massachusetts, one of the sites of Jewish higher education in the era before the major expansion of Jewish studies into American colleges and universities. The backdrop of the address, whose title echoes the well-known song from the popular American musical Hair, was the revolutionary...
5 | The Inquisition and the Jews of France in the Time of Bernard Gui
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This sixty-page article in the prestigious Harvard Theological Review was based on Yerushalmi’s master’s thesis at Columbia under Salo Baron. The paper was originally intended for inclusion in a book to be published in 1964, but the book never appeared. Yerushalmi’s article was instead published six years later, in 1970, when he was an assistant professor at Harvard....
6 | In Praise of Ladino
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This essay is a review of an anthology of Ladino and Spanish-Jewish literature that was published in 1972. Its editor was the prolific scholar of Ladino literature Moshe Lazar, who taught at the Hebrew University, founded the School of Visual and Performing Arts at Tel Aviv University, and later taught at the University of Southern California. Yerushalmi was a natural choice to review the anthology. His...
Part III — Iberia and Beyond
7 | Sephardic Jewry between Cross and Crescent
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This lecture, delivered in 1979, was the inaugural lecture of the Jacob E. Safra Chair in Jewish History and Sephardic Civilization at Harvard University, of which Yerushalmi was the first occupant. Jacob Safra was a wealthy Syrian-Jewish businessman who had founded banks and other financial institutions in the Middle East, Europe, and North and South America. The chair was endowed by Safra’s son, Edmond, a well-known banker and philanthropist....
8 | The Re-education of Marranos in the Seventeenth Century
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This piece originated as the Rabbi Louis Feinberg Memorial Lecture in Judaic Studies, hosted by the Judaic Studies Program at the University of Cincinnati. Yerushalmi delivered the lecture in 1980, the year in which he moved from Harvard to Columbia to take up the chair named for his teacher Salo W. Baron....
9 | Assimilation and Racial Anti-Semitism: The Iberian and the German Models
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Named for the German rabbi and scholar, the Leo Baeck Institute, based in New York, is an organization devoted to the study of German-speaking Jewry. This article originated as the Leo Baeck Memorial Lecture that Yerushalmi delivered in 1982. In it, Yerushalmi drew a series of intriguing historical parallels between the experience of people of Jewish ancestry in medieval Spain and in modern Germany....
Part IV — Jews and Politics
10 | Spinoza on the Survival of the Jews
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This selection was initially delivered as a lecture in Hebrew at the Israeli Academy of Arts and Sciences in Jerusalem in May 1977, when Yerushalmi was spending a sabbatical year in Israel. It reveals his ongoing interest in themes central to his first book, From Spanish Court to Italian Ghetto, namely, the Iberian Jewish experience and the condition of the crypto-Jew, or Marrano. At the same time, the lecture evinces Yerushalmi’s concern for large questions about Jewish history,...
11 | Servants of Kings and Not Servants of Servants: Some Aspects of the Political History of the Jews
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This piece was originally delivered as a lecture in German in Munich in 1993 and reprised in the original English in 2005 as the Tenenbaum Lecture at Emory University. The title of the talk, taken from the fifteenth-century Spanish scholar Isaac Arama, announces Yerushalmi’s major theme: the longue durée of the “royal alliance” of the Jews, their vertical relationship with state power, extending from the Babylonian Exile in the sixth century BCE to the twentieth century. In a sweeping...
12 | Israel, the Unexpected State: Messianism, Sectarianism, and the Zionist Revolution
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The following text was based on a lecture delivered by Yerushalmi on the occasion of receiving the Lucas Prize at the University of Tübingen. The prize, named for Dr. Leopold Lucas, a German rabbi and scholar who died in Theresienstadt in 1943, is awarded annually to those who have “rendered outstanding services to the dissemination of the concept of tolerance.” The lecture was delivered in 2005, amidst growing international criticism of Israel and calls for an academic boycott....
Part V — The Yoke of Memory
13 | Toward a History of Jewish Hope
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This article was originally delivered as a lecture in December 1984 at the Colloque des intellectuels juifs de langue française (made famous by Emanuel Levinas’s Talmudic readings) and subsequently published in the French literary journal Esprit in 1985. It continues Yerushalmi’s work on the relationship between history and memory in Zakhor that appeared in 1982, as well as his long-standing interest, familiar to his doctoral students from his regular seminar, in the history of...
14 | Series Z: An Archival Fantasy
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In 1991, Yosef Yerushalmi commenced an important new phase in his career marked by the appearance of Freud’s Moses: Judaism Terminable and Interminable. In that book, Yerushalmi used a surprising text—Jakob Freud’s seventeen-line Hebrew inscription to his son Sigmund on a German-Hebrew Bible that Jakob gave Sigmund—to reconsider the long-standing assumption that Freud was ignorant ...
15 | The Purloined Kiddush Cups: Reopening the Case on Freud’s Jewish Identity
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This brief essay was written as part of a small catalogue published in 1991 as an addendum to an earlier volume that had accompanied an exhibition devoted to Sigmund Freud’s private collection of antiquities.1 This second publication dealt with Freud’s collection of Judaica objects, whose existence had been overlooked for decades by those who knew of the careful photographic cataloguing of Freud’s home in Vienna on the eve of his departure to London. Only in 1989, after the...
16 | Gilgul
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Given his passion for world literature, as well as the lyrical quality of his prose and the care that he lavished on his writing, it is perhaps surprising that “Gilgul” is the first and only piece of fiction that Yerushalmi published. It appeared after his death in the August 15 & 22, 2011, edition of the New Yorker. The short-story form permitted him to experiment with a new mode of writing that mixed his best writerly instincts as narrator and his substantial skills as historian....
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Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Tauber Institute Series for the Study of European Jewry