• Zerubavel, Yael
  • Professor Emerita of Jewish Studies and History
  • Schools: Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, M.A. University of Pennsylvania, B.A. Tel-Aviv University

Founding Director

The Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life

Image Zerubavel CV May 2023


  • Nationalism, national myths 
  • Israeli culture, Israeli literature, Israeli film
  • Jewish memory, Jewish space
  • Trauma and identity


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






זרובבל מדבר אי חומ

Co-editor (with Amir Goldstein), Tel Hai, 1920-2020: History and Memory [Bein historia le'zikaron], Jerusalem: Yad Yitzhak Ben-Zvi & the Chaim Weizmann Institute, Tel Aviv University, 2020 (Hebrew)

Desert in the Promised LandStanford University Press, 2019

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

Desert, Island, Wall: Symbolic Landscapes the Politics of Space in Israeli Culture,[Revised translation of Desert in the Promised Land], Ben-Gurion Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism, and Shazar Center for Jewish History (Hebrew).

Forthcoming: Desert Images: Visions of the Counter-Place in Israeli Culture
(under contract with the University of Chicago Press)


Recent Articles (Selected)

“My Life as a Dialogue: An Autobiographical Essay” [Ha’hayim be’dialog: Masa otobiographit] in Kavin li’demutenu, edited by Avner Ben-Amos and Ofer Shiff, Ben-Gurion Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism, Ben-Gurion University & Yediot Ahronot, 2020 (Hebrew).

“The Shepherd, the Well, and the Jug: National Memory and Symbolic Bridges to Antiquity in Modern Hebrew Culture", in Contexts of Folklore: Festschrift for Dan Ben-Amos, edited by Simon J. Bronner and Wolfgang Mieder. Peter Lang Publishers: 2019, 333-42.

“Negotiating Difference and Empathy: Cinematic Representations of Passing and Exchanged Identities in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” in Rethinking Peace: Discourse, Memory, Translation and Dialogue, edited by Alexander Laban Hinton, Gorgio Shari and Jeremiah Alberg. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2019, 93-107.

“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.

“Zikaron ve-shikheha ba-hevra ha-yisra’elit” [Memory and Forgetting in Israeli Society], in Zikaron, hafatsim ve-yitsugim [Memory, Artefacts and Representations], edited by Naama Sheffi and Edna Lomsky-Feder. Haifa: Pardes Publishing, 2023, 29-43 (Hebrew).

Identity (Ex)Changes, Gender, and Family Ties: Cinematic Representations of Israeli Jews and Palestinians,” in Reel Gender: Palestinian and Israeli Cinema, edited by Sa’ed Atshan and Katharina Galor, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2022, 197-229


  • Israel Studies Review, Association for Israel Studies, 2000 – present
  • Journal of Israeli History (Tel Aviv University), 2002 – present
  • AJS Perspectives, the bi-annual magazine of the Association for Jewish Studies, 2010-present
  • Merhav Tziburi [Public Space] (Tel Aviv University)- 2016- Present
  • Academic Studies Press, series on Israel : Society, Culture, and History – 2009-present
  • Association for Jewish Studies (Board of Directors, 1993-95; 1995-2002; 2006-10)
  • Association for Israel Studies (Board of Directors, 1990-94, 1997-2001; 2006-09)


Lifetime Achievement Award, Association for Israel Studies, 2019
Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Fall 2016
Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 1994-95, 2009-10
Ben-Gurion Research Center at Ben-Gurion University, Israel, Spring 2005 (visiting fellow)
Institute for Advanced Studies, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Spring 2004
Center for the Critical Analysis of Contemporary Culture at Rutgers, 2001-2
École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris, Spring 2000 (visiting fellow)
The 1996 Salo Baron Prize of the American Academy for Jewish Research


Lectures & Programs related to Desert in the Promised Land:

  • Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies, February 2020
  • Middle Eastern Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison, October 2019
  • Middle East Centre, St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford, May 2019
  • The Woolf Institute, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge, May 2019
  • Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London, May 2020
  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst, September 2019
  • Plenary Session, Association for Israel Studies, June 2019
  • Taub Center for Israel Studies, New York University, April 2019
  • Kwartler Lecture, Princeton University, November 2018
  • Middle East Studies, Yale University, October 2018

“Israeli Memorial Landscape: Competing Approaches to Remembrance and Forgetting," Israel Studies Colloquium, University of California, Berkley, February 2020

"Re-enacting the Bible: Iconic Symbols and Subversive Narratives in Israel," Jewish Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison, October 2019

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 for the Study of Zionism and Israel at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Sde Boker, May 2018

“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