Zerubavel, Yael

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  • Yael Zerubavel
  • Professor Emeritus of Jewish Studies and History
  • Schools: Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, M.A. University of Pennsylvania, B.A. Tel-Aviv University
  • Office Address: 14 College Avenue, Miller Hall 106
  • Email Address: yael.zerubavel@rutgers.edu

Former Professor of Jewish Studies and History, Former Founding Director, The Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life


Desert in the Promised Land
Desert in the Promised Land


Recovered Roots
  • Collective memory, autobiographical memory, history and memory
  • Nationalism, national myths 
  • Tradition and change
  • Israeli culture, Israeli literature
  • Jewish memory, Jewish space
  • Jewish immigrant literature


Israeli Culture
Cultural Memory
Jewish Immigrant Experience
Jewish Memory
Jewish Space
Trauma and Memory in Israeli Culture
Israeli Society through Film



Books Authored

Desert in the Promised Land (Stanford University Press (in press), December 2018)

Recovered Roots: Collective Memory and the Making of Israeli National Tradition,         
    University of Chicago Press, 1995
    Paperback edition, University of Chicago Press, 1997
    Winner of the 1996 Salo Baron Prize of the American Academy for Jewish Research

Recent Articles (Selected)

“Putting Numbers into Space: Place Names and Collective Remembrance in Israeli Culture,” in Taking Stock: Cultures of Enumeration in Contemporary Jewish Life, edited by Michal Kravel-Tovi and Deborah Dash Moore. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016, 69-92

“’Numerical Commemoration and the Challenges of Collective Remembrance in Israel,” History and Memory 26, 1 (Spring/Summer 2014): 5-38.
Hebrew version: “Hantsaha misparit ve-shiyum he-avar: zikaron ve-shikhekha ba-merhav ha-tziburi be’israel,” in Majority-Minority Relations: Memory and Oblivion in Geographical Place Names, eds. Amer Dahamshe and Yossi Schwartz. Tel Aviv: Resling (191-223)

"Passages, Wars, and Encounters with Death: The Desert as a Site of Memory in Israeli Film,” in Deeper than Oblivion: Trauma and Memory in Israeli Cinema, edited by Raz Yosef and Boaz Hagin. New York & London: Bloomsbury, 2013, 299-327.

Ha’tanakh akhshav: Ikh’shuv, satira politit ve’zikaron le’umi” [“'The Bible Now': Contemporizing, Political Satire, and National Memory”], a combined issue of Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Folklore vol. 28 and Jerusalem Studies in Hebrew Literature vol. 25 in honor of Galit Hasan-Rokem, (2013), II, 755-74 [in Hebrew].

“Transforming Myths, Contested Narratives: The Reshaping of Mnemonic Traditions in Israeli Culture,” in National Myths: Constructed Pasts, Contested Presents, edited by Gérard Bouchard. London: Routledge, 2013, 173-90.

Ha’hazara el ha’tanakh:Ha’tiyul ve’zikhron ha’avar ba’siah ha’tayaruti be’israel [“Back to the Bible: Hiking in the Land as a Mnemonic Practice in Contemporary Israeli Tourist Discourse”], in History and Memory: Essays in Honor of Anita Shapira, edited by Meir Hazan and Uri Cohen. Jerusalem: Zalman Shazar Center for Jewish History, 2012, vol. 2, 497- 522 [in Hebrew].

“Coping with the Legacy of Death: The War Widow in Israeli Films,” in Israeli Cinema: Identities in Motion, edited by Miri Talmon and Yaron Peleg. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2011, 84-95.


Public Space (Ha-Merhav Ha-Tziburi), Tel Aviv University (editorial board, 2016-present)
Association for Jewish Studies (board member, 1993-2002, 2006-present)
Association for Israel Studies (board member, 1997-2001; 2006-09)
Israel Studies (editorial board, 1995 – present)
Journal of Israeli History (editorial board, 2002 – present)
Israel Studies Forum (editorial board, 2000 – present)
Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts and Contemporary Worlds (editorial board, 2005-present)
Rutgers University Press, Jewish Cultures of the World Series, (editorial board, 2007- present)
Academic Studies Press, Israel: Society, Culture, And History Series (editorial board, 2009-present)
AJS Perspectives, the bi-annual magazine of the Association for Jewish Studies (editorial board, 2009 – present)


Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Kazan State University, Russia
Ben-Gurion Research Center, Ben-Gurion University, Sde Boker
Institute for Advanced Studies, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem
École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris


The Inaugural Michael Feige Annual Lecture, “The Desert and the Island as Symbolic Spaces: On Landscapes, Identity and Memory in Israeli Culture,” Ben-Gurion Research Institute on Israel and Zionism, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, May 2018

“The Performance of Origins in Modern Hebrew Culture,” Conference on “The Origins of Jews,” Brown University, March 2017

“The 'Return to the Bible' and the Performance of the Past in Israeli Culture,” Frankel Institute for Judaic Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, September 2016

“Numerical Commemoration and Commemorative Place Names: Memory and Forgetting in Israeli Public Space,” The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, January 2015

The David Patterson seminar, “The 'Return to the Bible' in Popular Israeli Culture,” Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies at Yarnton Manor, October 2013

Keynote address: “Israel, Cultural Memory, and the Transformations of a National Tradition," Graduate student conference in Israeli Studies, Yeshiva University, New York, May 2013.

The Einhorn Endowed Lecture, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, "The Bible, the Lure of Antiquity, and Israeli Popular Culture," April 2012.

Keynote address: "Heritage, National Memory, and Identity Politics in Israel," International Society for Cultural History, annual meeting on "History – memory – myth,” Oslo, 2011.

The Forkosh Judaic Studies Lecture, “Imagining Exile in the Homeland: Cultural Diversity and the Politics of Remembrance in Israel,” at Carleton College, Minnesota, February 2010.

The Samuel and Althea Stroum Lectures, “Encounters with the Past: Remembering the ‘Bygone’ in Israeli Culture,” University of Washington, May 2009.

Faculty News

Music department's Associate Director, Rebecca Cypess, discusses the meaning of music on Work of Art: The Mason Gross Podcast. - Listen now

Professor Paul Hanebrink's book, A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism, is reviewed by Aidan Beatty. - Read review

"Orthodox Female Clergy Embodying Religious Authority" article by Assistant Professor, Michal Raucher, is published in the Fall 2019 AJS Perspectives. Read article or check out magazine

Tartakoff CoverDepartment Chair and Associate Professor, Paola Tartakoff's new book, Conversion, Circumcision, and Ritual Murder in Medieval Europe, is now available. - Order now

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