I am a member of the Jewish History Department at Tel-Aviv University. My research covers various topics and fields of interest, among which are prominent aspects of Ashkenazic Jewish culture in the early modern period, particularly in the context of Eastern Europe. Among other themes, I have been probing the transition from writing to printing and its consequences for understanding the processes of communication, especially within the lettered elites, and the restructuring of cultural agendas. Within the realm of European Jewish history and, more broadly (with a view toward its more general implications), I also have a keen interest in the evolving modes of Jewish social existence as expressed in such phenomena as Jewish spatial concentration in particular residential quarters, which I seek to understand in its physical as well as communal ramifications.

A second area of my interest lies in the religious and cultural history of the Land of Israel in Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. I am deeply engaged by questions of ethnography and social anthropology as these arise in relation to sacred sites – questions that, given the issues involved, continue to resound into modern times, down to the present. One aspect of my work in progress, which is intended to provide a general treatment of Galilean Jewish mythic traditions in their contextual setting, is a specialized case study of Mt. Meron and its functions as a pilgrimage site, which I am pursuing under the rubric of the I-CORE group, “Da’at Hamakom.” The Meron Project, which will be presented in an on-line format, will eventually include direct and ongoing fieldwork reportage, audio and visual recordings and photographs, a library of texts and articles dealing with the Meron site, and general considerations of pilgrimage to this and other related sites, both Jewish and non-Jewish. This project is intended eventually as a model for a broadly conceived approach to the study of sacred pilgrimage at large.

Selected Publications

  •  ‘Destruction, Temple and Sacred Place: On Medieval Concept of Time and Place’, Cathedra, 97, (September 2000), pp. 47-64 (Heb.) (English version, in: E. Reiner & R. Freudenthal (eds.), Streams into the Sea: Studies in Jewish Culture and its Contexts, Dedicated to Felix Posen, Tel Aviv 2001, pp. 138-152
  •  ‘Joseph of Tiberias and the Jewish-Christian Discourse in the Galilee in the 4th Cen.’, in: L. I. Levine (ed.), Jews and Christian in Palestine in the Byzantine Period, Jerusalem
  •  “From Joshua to Jesus: The Transformation of a Biblical Story to a Local Myth (A Chapter in the Religious Life of the Galilean Jew), in: A. Kofsky & G. G. Stroumsa (eds.), Sharing the Sacred: Religious Contacts and Conflicts in the Holy Land, Jerusalem 1998, pp. 223-271.
  •  “The Ashkenazi Elite at the Beginning of the Modern Era: Manuscript versus Printed Book”, G. D. Hundert (ed.), Jews in Early Modern Poland (=Polin, Studies in Polish Jewry, X), London 1997, pp. 85-98
  •  “The Attitude of Ashkenazi Society to the New Science in the Sixteenth Centuries”, Science in Context, 10 (1997), pp. 589-603
  •  “A Jewish Response to the Crusades: The Dispute over Sacred Places in the Holy Land’, in: A. Haverkamp (ed.), Juden und Christen zur Zeit der Kreuzzüge, Sigmaringen (=Forträge und Forschungen, 40), 1999, pp. 209-231
  •  ‘A Biography of an Agent of Culture: Eleazar Altschul of Prague and his Literary Activity’, M. Graetz (ed.), Schöpferische Momente des europäischen Judentums in der frühen Neuzeit, Heidelberg 2000, pp. 229-247
  •  “Beyond the Realm of the Haskalah – Changing Learning Patterns in Jewish Traditional Society”, Simon Dubnow Institute Yearbook, 6 (2007) pp. 123-133
  •  “From Joshua through Jesus to Simeon bar Yohai: Towards a Typology of Galilean Heroes”, in: N. Stahl (ed.), Jesus Among the Jews: Representation and Thought, London:Routledge, 2012, 94-105