Prof. Dr. Menahem Ben Sasson

Research Interests:

Jewish and Islamic studies; Mediterranean arena; institutional comparative history; History of Ideas; Cairo Genizah


Prof. Dr. Ben-Sasson is a scholar in the Department of the History of the Jewish People, in the Faculty of Humanities. A historian of the heritage of Jews in Muslim Lands, he has written some sixty books and scholarly articles on a range of subjects, including Jewish Communities in Muslim Lands; the Relationship Between Religion and Economics; and Law and Spirituality as Sources of Authority in Medieval Oriental Society. He also specializes in the study of Maimonides, Geonic responsa and texts, Saadya Gaon’s works and leadership, and the Cairo Genizah. He has been a visiting lecturer at leading institutions in the United States, including Yeshiva University, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and the University of Pennsylvania.


Prof. Ben-Sasson is a past editor and editorial board member of a range of scholarly publications. He has served as President of the World Union of Jewish Studies, Vice-President of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, Chairman of the Ben-Zvi Institute for the Study of Jewish Communities in the East, and on the board of directors at Yad Vashem.

Prof. Ben-Sasson’s honors include an honorary doctoral degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Yitzhak Ben-Zvi Prize for Jewish History, and the Feher Prize for the Study of Jewish Heritage.

Prof. Dr. Menahem Ben-Sasson is the Chancellor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Before serving as Chancellor, he served as the Hebrew University’s President, Rector, and Chairman of the Council of University Presidents and a Member of the Israeli Knesset.

Project Abstract

Time and Timing in the Maimonidean Dynasty

The time of the Maimonidean dynasty, 12th-15th centuries, were days of crisis for Jewish communities reflecting political instability, series of economic disasters and minorities persecutions.

One section of this research deals with ‘Time and Timing’ in the dynasty’s legacy and deeds.  ‘Time’ plays a central role in the attitude of members of the Maimonidean dynasty in two main parallel tracks - a systematic-theoretical reference to the concepts of time and practical reference to ‘Time’. 

The "high" theoretical approach deals with philosophical, theological, and mystical concepts as reflected in mediaeval contemporary philosophers. At the same time, Maimonides dynasty considered Time as part of their "moderate" theoretical approach. This "moderate" approach, deals with theological and legal practice refers to world and society.

The practical approach of Maimonidean Dynasty to the problems of their time was comprehensive and detailed. It referred to large-scale historical configurations and historical models. In some of these cases, Maimonides and his decedents incorporated the perception of Time in order to contain the problem. One the most important applications of time, was the establishment of a whole corpus of study in connection with the traditional curriculum and the persecutions of Jews. 

These and other issues brought the members of the Maimonides' dynasty to revolutionary writings and actions, guided specifically by the concept of Time.  All five themes discussed in EC-C are represented in their works in deferent measurements: Awareness of Time; Concepts of Time and Historical Epistemology; Social Time; Object Timing; The Temporality of Research.

It is expected to clarify the flexibility and purposefulness of the use of Time in a society that is considered a traditional society.

Curriculum vitae

2017 -  

The Heb. University Chancellor



The Heb. University President



The Heb. University Rector



The Hebrew University – Lectures, Senior Lecturer (1988), Associate Professor (1991), Professor (1996)

Other Institutes and Advanced Studies - 1986 BRGS Yeshiva University, 1991 (summer) Oriental Institute Russian Academy of Science (Leningrad), 1994, 2003 UPENN –CJS, 1996 HU - Advanced Studies, 2005 LMU Munich, 2018 FU Berlin



Cambridge University Post-Doctoral Visiting Fellow Genizah Studies

Selected Publications

The Emergence of the Qayrawan Jewish Community and its Importance as a Maghrebi Community', in: N. Golb (ed.), Proceedings of the Founding International Conference of the Society for Judeo-Arabic Culture (Chicago 1984) [= Studies in Jewish Muslim Relations III], pp. 1-13


‘Maimonides in Egypt - The First Stage’, Maimonidean Studies, II (1992), pp. 3-30


'Ben Ezra Synagogue during the Medieval Period', in: P. Lambert (ed.), Fortifications and the Synagogue - The Fortress of Babylon and the Ben Ezra Synagogue, London and NY 1995, pp. 200-223, 259-261


'Al-Andalus: The So-called "Golden Age" of Spanish Jewry – a Critical View', in: C. Cluse (ed.), The Jews of Medieval Europe: Sefarad and Ashkenaz, Turnhout 2004, pp. 123-137 [='Al-Andalus: Das "Goldene Zeitalter" der spanischen Juden – kritisch besehen', C. Cluse [Hrsg.], Europas Juden im Mittelalter, Trier 2004, S. 139-153] 


'The Maimonidean Dynasty - Between Conservatism and Revolution', J.M. Harris (ed.), Maimonides after 800 Years Cambridge Mass. 2007, pp. 1-17