Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi

To those who studied with Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, the great Jewish historian, the encounter was unforgettable. From his large and eternally smoke-filled office in Fayerweather Hall on the Columbia University campus, he turned the study of Jewish history into the most exciting, sophisticated, and cosmopolitan undertaking imaginable. Now, four years after his death in 2009, Yerushalmi is the subject of two recent books that explore his life and work: The first is a series of interviews conducted with Yerushalmi by the French Jewish scholar Sylvie Anne Goldberg and published in 2012 as Transmettre l’histoire juive (Albin Michel, 2012). With skill, patience, and sensitivity, Goldberg prods Yerushalmi to reflect on his evolution from a child, of two immigrant parents, who spoke virtually no English at the age of 5 to the most eminent and eloquent of Jewish historians of his generation.
The second book, which I co-edited with Alexander Kaye, The Faith of Fallen Jews: Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi and the Writing of Jewish History (Brandeis, 2013) mixes lesser-known writings with some of his classic essays. What emerges out of this mix is a clear link in Yerushalmi’s oeuvre between historical inquiry and Jewish identity. David N. Myers su tablet.

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