Contact Us

Department Chair:
Prof. Ori Shachmon 

B.A. Advisor:
Dr. Miriam Goldstein

M.A. Advisor:
Iyas Nasser

Department Secretary:
Sara Parnassa
Room 4507, Humanities Building
Tel.: 02-5883965




Ori Shachmon

Prof. Ori Shachmon

Department's Chair
Room 5325. Office Hours: By appointment

Received her PhD in Arabic dialectology from the Hebrew University in 2008, and was appointed to the faculty of the University in 2009

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. She teaches various courses in modern Arabic literature, in Palestinian Arabic and other spoken dialects, and in Arabic socio-linguistics.

Ori's dissertation was based on ten years of intensive field-work with Arabic speaking Jews who hail from the North Yemenite province, close to the Saudi border. At the same time, she worked as a team leader and main researcher of a large-scale project on Palestinian dialects, with the participation of two German universities and two Israeli ones. She has thus gained expertise in two different types of Arabic dialects: one is the spoken language of the Arabian Peninsula, where archaic linguistic features coexist side by side with innovative developments; the second is the Arabic which is spoken by the rural Palestinian population of central Israel (the areas around Jerusalem, Ramallah and Bethlehem), an area in which one can observe - perhaps better than anywhere else in the whole Arab world - the linguistic dichotomy between town and village.  

Currently, Ori stands at the head of two projects supported by the Israel Science Foundation: the first follows the gradual change of attitude towards writing in local Palestinian dialects; the second deals with the ties linking communal identity to language, focusing on Arabic speaking Christians in Israel. In addition, she has recently won a research award for the study of the spoken language of Jews who lived in the villages of Lower Yemen, a group of dialects which exhibits a host of unique features.

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Meir M. Bar-Asher

Prof. Meir M. Bar-Asher

Room 5306. Office Hours: Monday 13:00-14:00

Ph. D. (1991) in Islamic Studies, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has published on Imami Shi'i and Isma'ili doctrine and exegesis and on the Nusayri-Alawi religion

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. His studies include Scripture and Exegesis in Early Shi'ism  (Leiden and Jerusalem 1999) and (in collaboration with Aryeh Kofsky) The Nusayri-Alawi Religion: An Enquiry into its Theology and Doctrine, Leiden 2002.

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Haggai Ben-Shammai

Prof. Haggai Ben-Shammai

Professor Emeritus of Arabic Language and Literature at the Hebrew University. He has served as co-director of the Center for the Study of Judaeo-Arabic Culture and Literature

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(Ben-Zvi Institute, since 1995); President of the Society for Judaeo-Arabic Studies (1997-2013); co-director of the Jewish Studies program at St. Petersburg State University (2000-2006); academic co-director of the Friedberg Genizah Project (since 2003); and Academic Director of the National Library of Israel (October 2009-September 2015). Prof. Ben-Shammai studied at the Hebrew University in the departments of Arabic Language and Literature, history of the Islamic countries and Semitic languages for the degrees of B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. (1962-1977). His interests include Judaeo-Arabic Bible exegesis and philosophy, history of Jewish communities in Islamic countries, with special emphasis on Karaites, and Islamic theology (Kalam). Prof. Ben-Shammai has published numerous articles and chapters in books on these areas and has co-edited several books.

Prof. Ben-Shammai served as visiting professor and research fellow in several universities in England and the U.S.A. (Cambridge, London, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Yeshiva U). He was involved in the founding and academic management of projects aimed at enhancing Jewish studies in Russia, and in organizations active in research and diffusion of Jewish studies, such as the Ben Zvi Institute for the study of Jewish Communities in the East, the Center for the Study of Judaeo-Arabic Culture and Literature and the Friedberg Geniza Project.

On a personal note: Prof. Ben-Shammai was born in Tel-Aviv in 1939, grew up in Jerusalem and has lived to this day in this city. He served in the army in a Nahal unit, and stayed on a Kibbutz for a few years afterwards. He is married to Bitya, who was for many years the editor and director of the RAMBI project. Haggai and Bitya have four married children, twenty grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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Michael Ebstein

Dr. Michael Ebstein

Room 6419. Office Hours: By appointment

Received his PhD at the Hebrew University in 2012. In his research, he focuses on classical Islamic mysticism, with particular attention to medieval Andalusian mysticism

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as well as the links between the Shi'ite tradition and Sunni mysticism.

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Yohanan Friedmann

Prof. Yohanan Friedmann

Max Schloessinger Professor Emeritus. Since 1999, a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. He was awarded the Israel Prize for Near Eastern Studies in 2016.

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In 2002 Friedmann was member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. In 2003 he received the Landau Prize in the Humanities.  Prof. Friedmann continues to teach on a volunteer basis in the Department of Arabic Language and Literature and the Department of Near Eastern Studies.

Friedmann's studies center on Islamic religious thought, mainly in the Indian subcontinent. He assays the historical record for evidence of both tolerance and intolerance of other religious faiths in the Islamic tradition in his most recent work, "Tolerance and Coercion in Islam: Interfaith Relations in the Muslim Tradition". Since 1993, he has been the editor of the acclaimed Hebrew University publication Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam.

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Miriam Goldstein

Dr. Miriam Goldstein

Room 5312. Office Hours: By appointment

Holds a BA in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard College (1999) and an MPhil, completed during the tenure of a Marshall Fellowship, from the University of Cambridge

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(2001). Dr. Goldstein completed her doctorate at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2006. In her research Dr. Goldstein strives to illuminate Judeo-Arabic literature, especially Bible exegesis, in its larger context and in a comparative light; and she also focuses on the interchanges, both positive and polemical, between the Jewish communities of the medieval Arabic-speaking world and their neighbors of other faiths. Her current research on Judeo-Arabic literature is funded by a four-year grant from the Israel Science Foundation and focuses on the reconstruction of several Rabbanite commentaries from Genizah fragments and the preparation of critical editions with closely annotated translations and introductions, as well as the creation of a website with "working editions" of certain important Judeo-Arabic Karaite texts that have until now been available only in manuscript collections. Goldstein is also working on her next book - an edition and study of the well-known medieval polemic Toledot Yeshu in its Judeo-Arabic versions.

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Isaac Hasson

Prof. Isaac Hasson

Professor emeritus at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of Arabic Language and Literature. The principal focus of his scholarship has been on Jerusalem in Islam

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, the transition from Jahiliyya to Islam, and contemporary Sunni-Shia relations. His publications include: Fada’il al-Bayt al-Muqaddas of Abu Bakr al-Wasiti (1979); Le voyage de Sa’id ibn Muhammad al-Suwaysi au Yaman 1890-1895 (2008) (in collaboration with A. Arazi); “Muslim Literature in Praise of Jerusalem: Fada’il Bayt al-Maqdis,” The Jerusalem Cathedra, 1 (1981); “The Muslim View of Jerusalem—The Qur’an and Hadith” in J. Prawer and H. Ben-Shammai (eds.), The History of Jerusalem, The Early Muslim Period 638-1099, (1996); “Judham entre la Jahiliyya et l’Islam,” Studia Islamica (1995); “La conversion de Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyan,” JSAI (1998; “Les Shiites vus par les Neo-Wahhabites,” Arabica (2006).

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Simon Hopkins

Prof. Simon Hopkins


Grew up in England and studied Semitic languages at the University of London. His doctorate dealt with the language of early Arabic papyri

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and was published as Studies in the Grammar of Early Arabic (1984). After several years of teaching Hebrew at the University of Cape Town, he moved to Israel, where he worked on the Historical Dictionary project at the Academy of the Hebrew Language before joining the Arabic Department of the Hebrew University in 1984.

Simon Hopkins is interested in Semitic philology as a whole, especially in the historical development of Arabic and Aramaic and the relations between them. In these areas he has published work on mediaeval Judaeo-Arabic (particularly Maimonides) and Neo-Aramaic dialects.

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Etan Kohlberg

Prof. Etan Kohlberg

Born in Tel-Aviv in 1943. After completing his military service he began his studies at the Hebrew University and was awarded the B.A. (1966) and M.A. degrees (1968)

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summa cum laude. From 1969 through 1971 he was at Oxford University, where he wrote his doctoral thesis under the supervision of Samuel Stern and Richard Walzer (1969-1971). In 1972 he began teaching at the Hebrew University, and was promoted to senior lecturer four years later. In 1983 he was appointed associate professor and has been a full professor since 1991. He served as Head of the Institute of Asian and African Studies (1987-1989).

Prof. Kohlberg has been awarded the Rothschild Prize (2008) and the EMET Prize (2008) for his unique contribution to the study of Islam and in particular its Shii branch.

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Michael Lecker

Prof. Michael Lecker

Office Hours: By appointment by email

Has taught at the Hebrew University in a variety of positions since 1978. His M.A. thesis (1978, supervised by J. Blau), "Jewish Settlements in Babylonia during the Talmudic Period"

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traced Talmudic place names that survived in the geographical literature. His Ph.D. thesis (1983, supervised by M.J. Kister), "On the Prophet Muhammad's Activity in Medina" studied the so-called Constitution of Medina and several other topics relating to Muhammad's Medinan period.

Michael Lecker studies early Islamic texts, with an emphasis on the life of the Prophet Muhammad. It is not clear exactly how Muhammad's classical biography came into being. What is certain is that it is a product of the first Islamic century. While reflecting several rival viewpoints, the many solid facts it includes help us establish the broad lines of Muhammad's life and time. Lecker also founded the Jerusalem Prosopography Project.

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Michal Levi

Dr. Michal Levi

Room 5326. Office Hours: Monday 14:00-15:00, by appointment by email

Completed her academic studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  She has taught in the Department of Arabic Language and Literature since the year 2000.

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Her doctoral dissertation was supervised by Professor Sarah Stroumsa and Prof. Etan Kohlberg.  It focused on the question of man’s reward after death according to the commentator and theologian Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī, who belonged to the Ash‘arite school of thought. Dr. Levi’s discussion also included the views of the rival school to the Ash‘ariyya, namely the Mu‛tazila, regarding this issue.

Her research interests include:  Quranic exegesis, kalām literature, and the linguistic and cultural aspects of the Arabic language - written and spoken.

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Aryeh Levin

Prof. Aryeh Levin

A recipient of the Israel Prize in General Linguistics (2010). Received his Ph.D. from the Hebrew University in the Department of Arabic Language and Literature

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. Over the years, Prof. Levin has held a number of senior positions at the university, including head of the department for Arabic Language and Literature, head of the Institute of Asian and African Studies, Chair of the Advanced Studies Committee of the Faculty of Humanities, and the Henya Sharef Professor Emeritus in Humanities. Professor Levin continues to teach on a volunteer basis in the Department of Arabic Language and Literature until the present day.

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Menahem Milson

Prof. Menahem Milson

Professor (emeritus) of Arabic Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where he taught beginning in 1963. He has served as chair of the Middle East Media Research Institute

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(MEMRI). He is author and director of the online edition of the Arabic-Hebrew dictionary originally authored by David Ayalon and Pessah Shinar. Prof. Milson served as the head of the Institute of Asian and African Studies and as Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the Hebrew University. Prof. Milson’s areas of research include Sufi literature, modern Egyptian literature and Arabic lexicography.
He holds a Ph.D. in Arabic literature from Harvard University (1964).

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Shmuel Moreh

Prof. Shmuel Moreh

Recipient of the Israel Prize in Middle Eastern Studies in 1999. Professor (emeritus) Moreh continues to teach in the department on a volunteer basis

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. In addition to having written many books and articles dealing with Arabic literature in general and Iraqi Jewish Arabic literature in particular, he has been a major contributor to Elaph, the first online daily independent journal in Arabic. Professor Moreh publishes in Arabic, Hebrew, and English.

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Gabriel M. Rosenbaum

Prof. Gabriel M. Rosenbaum

Room 5320. Office Hours: By appointment

Was born in Jerusalem and has lived most of his life in Tel Aviv. He received his Ph.D. from Tel Aviv University in 1995 and is a senior lecturer in Arabic Literature at the Hebrew University

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of Jerusalem. His research and academic publications focus on the literature, drama, language and folklore of modern Egypt, based both on written sources and on close contact with Egyptian culture and its makers. He writes fiction prose and poetry in Hebrew and has also published translations of foreign literary works into Hebrew, including two plays by Egyptian playwrights. He has visited Egypt many times and has lectured on several occasions at the Israeli Academic Center in Cairo.

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Sarah Stroumsa

Prof. Sarah Stroumsa

Alice and Jack Ormut Professor Emerita of Arabic Studies. She taught in the Department of Arabic Language and Literature and the Department of Jewish Thought

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at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she served as the Rector of the University from 2008 until 2012. Her area of academic focus includes the history of philosophical and theological thought in Arabic in the early Islamic Middle Ages, Medieval Judaeo-Arabic literature, and intellectual history of Muslims and Jews in Islamic Spain. Among her published works in English: Freethinkers of Medieval Islam: Ibn alRāwaādī, Ab ū Bakr al-Rāzī, and Their Impact on Islamic Thought (Leiden: Brill, 1999; Paperback edition 2016); Maimonides in his World: Portrait of a Mediterranean Thinker (Princeton: Princeton University, 2010; Paperback edition 2012) and Dāwūd al-Muqammaṣ, Twenty Chapters (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 2016).

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Ofra Tirosh-Becker

Prof. Ofra Tirosh-Becker

Rabin Building, Room 2113

Completed her B.A. at the Department of Hebrew Language and the Department of Arabic Language and Literature at the Hebrew University

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. She completed her Master's thesis on a Judeo-Arabic translation of Psalms from Constantine, Algeria, under the supervision of Prof. Moshe Bar-Asher. In 2000 she received her doctoral degree from the Hebrew University. Her doctoral thesis, also completed under the supervision of Prof. Moshe Bar-Asher, focused on rabbinic Hebrew embedded in medieval Karaite literature, which for the most part was written in Judeo-Arabic. In 2000 she carried out her post-doctoral training at the Center for Jewish Studies of Harvard University as an honorary Starr Fellow and a Fulbright Scholar. In 2001-2002 she was a post-doctoral fellow at the Eliezer Ben Yehuda Research Center for the History of Hebrew at the Hebrew University.

Tirosh-Becker is a Professor in the Department of Arabic Language and Literature and in the Department of Hebrew Language at the Hebrew University. She is the Head of the Hebrew University's Center for Jewish Languages and Literatures, and has recently served as the Chairperson of the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Languages. Prof. Tirosh-Becker is also a full member of the Academy of the Hebrew Language in Jerusalem. She is the founder and co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Jewish Languages published by Brill, a co-editor of Massorot: Studies in Language Traditions and the Jewish Languages, and the editor of the Languages and Linguistics Section of the online edition of the Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. In the years 2011/2 and 2016/7 she was a visiting professor at Harvard University.

Tirosh-Becker is a recipient of the 2011 Asaraf Prize from The Academy of the Hebrew Language, the 2013 Ben-Zvi Award for Research of Jewish Communities in the East, and the 2013 Polonsky Prize for Creativity and Originality in the Humanistic Disciplines (First Prize). Her two-volume book Rabbinic Excerpts in Medieval Karaite Literature was published in 2011 (Vol. 1: Philological and Linguistic Studies, Vol. 2: A Critical Annotated Scientific Edition of the Texts).

Her research focuses on the contacts between Arabic and Hebrew, including: North-African Judeo-Arabic; Judeo-Arabic translations of the Bible and of post-biblical literature; Medieval Hebrew; Hebrew in Algeria in the 19th-20th centuries; The contact between Hebrew and Arabic in the Middle Ages; Rabbinic Hebrew in Karaite writings.

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Joseph Witztum

Dr. Joseph Witztum

Room 6424. Office Hours: By appointment

Joseph Witztum completed his BA and MA at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and his PhD at Princeton University

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. His main fields of interest include the following topics: the Quran in light of Jewish and Christian traditions, Quranic exegesis, Hadith, pre-Islamic Syriac literature, and works translated from Syriac to Arabic.

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