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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 the Chancellor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a scholar in its Department of the History of the Jewish People. He has published 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. 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. Before serving as Chancellor, Prof. Ben-Sasson 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. 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. The project aims to clarify the flexibility and purposefulness of the use of Time in a traditional society.

Curriculum vitae

Since 2017  | Chancellor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

2009 – 2018 | President of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

1997 – 2001 | Rector of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

1984 – 2018 

Lectures, Senior Lecturer (1988); Associate Professor (1991); Professor (1996), The Hebrew University. BRGS Yeshiva University (1986); Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of   Sciences (Leningrad, 1991); Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of   Pennsylvania (1994, 2003); Advanced Studies, HU-Berlin (1996), LMU München (2005), FU-Berlin (2018)

1983 – 1984 | Post-Doctoral Visiting Fellow Genizah Studies, Cambridge University

Selected Publications

2008. "The Maimonidean Dynasty: Between Conservatism and Revolution". In Maimonides after 800 Years, edited by J. M. Harris, 1-17. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.  

2004. "Al-Andalus: Das "Goldene Zeitalter" der spanischen Juden - kritisch besehen" [= Al-Andalus: The So-called "Golden Age" of Spanish Jewry – a Critical View]. In Europas Juden im Mittelalter. Beiträge des internationalen Symposium in Speyer vom 20 bis 25 Oktober 2002, hrsg. von C. Cluse, 139-153. Trier: Kliomedia. 

1997. "The Emergence of the Qayrawan Jewish Community and its Importance as a Maghrebi Community". In Judaeo-Arabic studies: proceedings of the Founding Conference of the Society for Judaeo-Arabic Studies, edited by N. Golb. Studies in Muslim-Jewish relations 3, 1-13. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers.

1994. "Ben Ezra Synagogue during the Medieval Period". In Fortifications and the Synagogue: The Fortress of Babylon and the Ben Ezra Synagogue, Cairo, edited by P. Lambert, 200-223; 259-61. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. 


1991. "Maimonides in Egypt: The First Stage". In Maimonidean Studies, vol. 2, edited by A. Hyman, 3-30. New York: Yeshiva University Press. 

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