Prof. Ofer Ashkenazi

Director and permanent academic member

Ofer Ashkenazi is an Associate Professor of History and the Director of the Richard Koebner Minerva Center for German History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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After he received his PhD from the Hebrew University in 2006, he conducted post-doctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley, and taught at the University of Minnesota. His research interests include Central European cultural and intellectual history, modern visual culture, and Jewish experience in twentieth-century Europe. He is the author of three monographs: "A Walk into the Night: Reason and Subjectivity in Weimar Film (2010); "Weimar Film and Modern Jewish Identity" (2012) and "Anti-Heimat Cinema: The Jewish Invention of the German Landscape, 1918-1968" (scheduled for summer 2020). He published articles on various topics, including German-Jewish immigration to Palestine, exile photography, and the German peace movement. His current research project examines Jewish photography in modern Germany.


Selected Publications



Anti-Heimat Cinema: The Jewish Invention of the German Landscape (University of Michigan Press, 2020)

Weimar Film and Modern Jewish Identity (Palgrave-McMillan, 2012)

Reviews of the Book:

German Studies Review – download in PDF format

German History – download in PDF format

H-Net Discussion Network – download in PDF format

H-Soz-u-Kult – download in PDF format

Jewish Film and New Media – download in PDF format

A Walk into the Night: Reason and Subjectivity in the Films of the Weimar Republic (Am Oved, Hebrew, 2010).

Reviews of the Book:

Tel Aviver Jahrbuch für deutsche Geschichte – download in PDF format

Haaretz – download in PDF format

Haaretz, “Before the Collapse” – download in PDF format


Edited Volumes

Ulrike Pilarczyk, Ofer Ashkenazi, Arne Homann (eds.), Hachschara und Jugend-Alija. Wege jüdischer Jugend nach Palästine, 1918-1940 (Gifhorn: Gemeinnützige Bildungs- und Kultur des Landkreises Gifhorn, 2020).

Ofer Ashkenazi, Udi Greenberg, Noah Strot (eds.), “From Weimar to the Cold War,” special issue of New German Critique (November 2015)

Ofer Ashkenazi, David Bargal, Eran Rolnik (eds.), Einstein, Freud and the Wars to Come: Why War? in Context (Carmel, 2018 [Hebrew])



Ofer Ashkenazi, “A Jewish Memory of a German Past: Jewish Amateur Photography in Nazi Germany,” Zion 82.2 (Dall 2020), 263-294

Ofer Ashkenazi, Guy Miron, “Jewish Vacations in Nazi Germany: Reflections on Time and Space amid an Unlikely Respite,” Jewish Quarterly Review 110.3 (Summer 2020): 523-552.

Ofer Ashkenazi, Jakob F. Dittmar, “Belonging in Auto/Biographical Comics: Narratives of Exile in the German Heimat,” A/B: Auto / Biography Studies ( 2020)

Ofer Ashkenazi, “Hidden in Plain Sight: The Nakba and the Heritage of the Israeli Historians’ Debate,” (review essay) Zeithistorische Forschungen 16.3 (2019), 549-563.

Ofer Ashkenazi, “Detoxification: Nazi Remakes of E.A. Dupont’s Films,” in Barbara Hales and Valerie Weinstein (eds.), Rethinking Jewishness in Weimar Film (Berghahn, 2020).

“Exile at Home: Jewish Amateur Photography under Nazism, 1933-1939,” Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook (November 2019)

"Transnational Antiwar Activity in the Third Reich: The Nazi Branch of the New Commonwealth Society," German History 36.2 (June 2018): 207-228

“Strategies of Exile Photography: Hans Casparius and Helmar Lerski in Palestine,” in Marc Silberman (ed.), Back to the Future: Traditions and Innovations in German Studies (Bern: Peter Lang, 2018), 87-119.

"1932 as a Watershed in Einstein Political activity," Ofer Ashkenazi, David Bargal, Eran Rolnik (eds.), Einstein, Freud and the Wars to Come: Why War? in Context (Carmel, 2018 [Hebrew])

"Improbable Twins: The Bifurcating Heritage of Weimar Culture in Helmar Lerski and Walter Frentz’s Kulturfilms," German Studies Review 40.3 (2017): 527-548

“The Non-Heimat Heimat: Landscapes and Identity in German-Jewish Films, from Weimar to the Cold War,” New German Critique (November 2015), 115-144

“The Jewish Place of Weimar Cinema: A Reconsideration of Karl Grune’s The Street,” in Steven Aschheim and Vivial Liska (eds.), The German-Jewish Experience: Contested Interpretations and Conflicting Perceptions (De Gruyter, 2015), 135-154

“The Symphony of a Great Heimat: Helmar Lerski’s Propaganda Film Avodah,” A Three-Way Street: Transnational German-Jewish Culture, Leslie Morris and Jay Geller (ed.), (University of Michigan Press, 2015), 91-121

"Jewish Displacement and Simulation in the German Films of E. A. Dupont," Simone Lässing and Miriam Ruerupp (eds.), Space and Spatiality in German-Jewish History (Berghahn, 2017), 88-106

"Place and Displacement in the New Israeli Documentary Film," Jewish Culture and History 15:3 (Fall, 2014): 212-233

“The Future of History as Film,” Rethinking History (Fall 2013)

“Biramschule in Context: The “German” Influence on Jewish Body-Culture in Mandate Palestine,” Tel Aviver Jahrbuch für deutsche Geschichte (2013): 17-39

“Zionism and Violence in Albert Einstein’s Worldview,” Journal of Jewish Studies, 62.2: (Fall 2012): 331-355

“German-Jewish Athletes and the Formation of Zionist (Trans-)National Culture,” Jewish Social Studies 17.3: (Spring/Summer 2012): 124-155

“Home-Coming as a National Founding Myth: Jewish Identity and East German Landscapes in Konrad Wolf’s I was Nineteen,” Religions 3 (Spring 2012): 130-150

“Re-framing the Interwar Peace Movement: The Curious Case of Albert Einstein,” Journal of Contemporary History 46:4 (Spring 2012): 741-766

“Ridiculous Trauma: Comic Representations of the Nazi Past in Contemporary German Visual Culture,” Cultural Critique 78 (Fall 2011): 88-118

“‘A New Era of Peace and Understanding’: The Integration of Sound-Film into German Popular Cinema, 1929-1932,” in Christian Rogowski (ed.). The Many Faces of Weimar Cinema, (Camden House, 2010), 249-267

“Middle-Class Heroes: Anti-Nationalism in the Popular Adventure Films of the Weimar Republic” in John A. Williams (ed.), Weimar Culture Revisited (Palgrave, 2010), 73-98

The Incredible Transformation of Dr. Bessel: Alternative Memories of the Great War in German War Films of the late 1920s,” History and Memory, (Spring/Summer, 2008), 20(1): 121-153

Prisoners’ Fantasies: The Longing for Law and Order in Weimar Film,” Journal of European Studies, (Fall 2009), 39(3): 290-304.

“‘A Zionist, not a National Jew’: Albert Einstein and Brit-Shalom,” Brit-Shalom and Bi-National Zionism: The ‘Arab Problem’ as a Jewish Problem, Adi Gordon (ed.), (Tel Aviv: Carmel, 2008), 123-148

“Beyond Stereotypes and Assimilation: The ‘Jewish-Comedy’ of the Weimar Republic,” Zion 73:3 (2007): 301-323



Photo credit: Esther Lassman

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Dr. Aya Elyada

Dr. Aya Elyada

Permanent academic member
Humanities Building, Room 6507

Senior Lecturer at the History Department, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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Before joining the Hebrew University in 2012 I spent five years as a visiting PhD student at the University of Munich, and another three years as a visiting post-doctoral fellow at Duke University. My book, “A Goy Who Speaks Yiddish: Christians and the Jewish Language in Early Modern Germany,” appeared in 2012 with Stanford University Press. The book explores the unique and unlikely phenomenon of “Christian Yiddishism” in early modern Germany, namely the Christian interest in and engagement with Yiddish language and literature from the beginning of the sixteenth century to the late eighteenth century. It explains why some Christians were preoccupied with Yiddish and discusses the various ways in which they depicted this Jewish language and literature in their writings. In the process, it sheds light on the broader linguistic, theological, cultural, and social concerns of early modern Christian authors and their intellectual environment.
My main fields of interest are German and German-Jewish history and culture; Christian-Jewish relations; Yiddish language and literature; the history of the Yiddish-German encounter; and the social and cultural history of language and translation. My current project explores the place of Old Yiddish literature in modern German and German-Jewish culture.


Employment and Positions
Oct’ 2020-    Chair of the History Department, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
2019-2020    Interim Director of the Richard Koebner Minerva Center for German History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
2018-2019    Visiting Scholar at the Oxford Center for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Oxford UK
2017-            Senior Lecturer (tenured), Department of History, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
2012-2017    Lecturer (Assistant Professor), Department of History, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Fall 2010    Visiting Lecturer at the Department of History, Tel Aviv University
2009-2012    Visiting Scholar, Department of History, Duke University


2010    PhD  The Graduate School of Historical Studies, Tel Aviv University
2004-2009    PhD studies at The Graduate School of Historical Studies, Tel Aviv University, and as a visiting doctoral student at the Lehrstuhl für Jüdische Geschichte und Kultur, Ludwigs-     Maximilians-Universität, Munich. 
2001-2004    MA    The Graduate School of Historical Studies, Tel Aviv University. summa cum laude.
1998-2001    BA    Department of History, School of History’s Honors Program and Amirim Honors Program in Humanities, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, summa cum laude.


Fellowships and Grants (recent years)
2014    Research Grant of the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (GIF), Young Scientists Program
2013-2017    Research Grant of the Israel Science Foundation (ISF)
2013-2017    Marie Curie Career Integration Grant (CIG)
2012-2015    Yigal Alon Fellowship for Outstanding Junior Faculty, Israeli Council for Higher Education
2012-2013    International Fellowship of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture
2012-2013    Gerald Westheimer Career Development Award, Leo Baeck Institute


Honors and Awards (recent years)
2017                Rector's list of excellence in teaching, 2015-16
2016                Rector's list of excellence in teaching, 2014-15


Selected Publications

Contested Heritage: Old Yiddish Texts in German-Jewish Culture (1800-1938) (work title, in preparation)

A Goy Who Speaks Yiddish: Christians and the Jewish Language in Early Modern Germany. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012.
Reviews: The American Historical Review 118:5 (2013), 1587-1589; Sixteenth Century Journal 44:4 (2013), 1183-1185; AJS Review 37:2 (2013), 425-427; Religious Studies Review 39:4 (2013), 282-283;The Yiddish Daily Forward April 25, 2013; Jewish Culture and History 15:1-2 (2014), 141-144; Journal of Early Modern History 18:6 (2014), 609-611

Edited Volumes
Irene Aue-Ben-David, Aya Elyada, Moshe Sluhovsky, and Christian Wiese (eds.), Jews and Protestants from the Reformation to the Present, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2020
Aya Elyada, Guest Editor of Yiddish in German and German-Jewish Culture: Special Issue of Naharaim – Journal of German-Jewish Literature and Cultural History 10 (2016)

Selected Articles

  • “Contested Heritage: Wissenschaft des Judentums and the Yiddish Biblical Literature in Nineteenth-Century Germany,” Zion: A Quarterly for the Research of Jewish History [in Hebrew] (forthcoming 2021)
  • “Between Rejection and Nostalgia: Yiddish as a Post-Vernacular in Modern German-Jewish Culture,” Chidushim – Studies in the History of German and Central European Jewry 20 (2018): 6-26 [in Hebrew]
  • "Deutsch-jüdisches Gelehrtentum und altjiddische Literatur: Zur Rehabilitierung einer vergessenen  Tradition," Naharaim – Journal of German-Jewish Literature  and  Cultural History 11 (2017), 167-188
  • "Bridges to a Bygone Jewish Past? Abraham Tendlau and the Rewriting of Yiddish Folktales in Nineteenth-Century Germany," Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 16 (2017), 1-18
  • "Early Modern Yiddish and the Jewish Volkskunde, 1880-1938," Jewish Quarterly Review 107 (2017), 182-208
  • "Zwischen Austausch und Polemik: Christliche Übersetzungen jiddischer Literatur im Deutschland  der  Frühneuzeit," Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte 69 (2017), 47-73
  • “Yiddish and German in Early Modern Christian Works,” Chidushim – Studies in the History of German and Central European Jewry 15 (2011), 41-55 [in Hebrew]
  • “‘Eigentlich Teutsch’? Depictions of Yiddish and Its Relations to German in Early Modern Christian Writings,” European Journal of Jewish Studies 4 (2010), 23-42
  • “Protestant Scholars and Yiddish Studies in Early Modern Europe,” Past and Present 203 (2009), 69-98
  • “Yiddish – Language of Conversion? Linguistic Adaptation and Its Limits in Early Modern Judenmission,” Leo Baeck Institute Year Book 53 (2008), 3-29


Research Students
Current Students:

Daniel Lehmann, 2018-: Representations of the Reformation in the Protestant-Jewish Polemic: Intra-Christian Conflict in the "Presence" of Jews (Ph.D. thesis, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; joint supervision with Prof. Ram Ben-Shalom).
Meirav Reuveni, 2017-: Polemics on the Hebrew Language in the Tri-Lingual Jewish Press in Central and Eastern Europe 1856-1914 (Ph.D. thesis, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; joint supervision with Prof. Richi Cohen).
Amit Levy, 2016-: The New Orient: German-Jewish Orientalism in Palestine/Israel (Ph.D. thesis, joint supervision with Prof. Yfaat Weiss).

Past Students:
Yael Levi, 2016-2020: The Emergence of the Yiddish and Hebrew Press in the United States, 1870–1900: Culture, Law, and Politics (Ph.D. thesis, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; joint supervision with Prof. Yfaat Weiss)
Niels Eggerz, 2013-2020: Converted Through God’s Grace, Becoming like the Other: Johan Kemper (Moses Aaron/Johann Christian Jacob) and his Commentary on the Zohar (Ph.D. thesis, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; joint supervision with Prof. Paweł Maciejko)
Tuvia Singer, 2013-2020: Jews, 'Gypsies' and the Volk: Wandering Minorities in the Folk-Narratives and German Mythology of Brothers Grimm and Ludwig Bechstein (Ph.D. thesis, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; joint supervision with Prof. Galit Hasan-Rokem)
Rima (Reyze) Turner, 2017-2019: Confronting the Jewish Rejection of Jewish Particularism: Chaim Zhitlowsky’s Pedagogical Intervention into Ashkenazi American Assimilation (M.A. thesis, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, summa cum laude)
Daniel Lehmann, 2016-2018: Anthonius Margaritha's Refutation of the Jews' Entire Faith and the Past, Present, and Future of the Christian-Jewish Polemic (M.A. thesis, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, summa cum laude)
Meirav Reuveni, 2015-2017: Shai Ish Hurwitz and the Journal "heAtid" (1903-1914): Historical Consciousness and the Revival of the Hebrew Language (M.A. thesis, magna cum laude).
Amit Levy, 2014-2016: From Breslau to Jerusalem: Martin Plessner's Encounters with the Orient (M.A. thesis, joint supervision with Prof. Yfaat Weiss, summa cum laude).


Academic Teaching (selected courses)
Language and the Construction of Culture in Germany, 15th-18th centuries
The Yiddish-German Encounter Throughout the Ages
Christian Hebraism in Medieval and Early Modern Europe
The Reformation as a Religious, Social, and Cultural Revolution
Luther, the Reformation and the German Language
Christian-Jewish Relations in the First Reich (1096-1648)
Religion and Society in 16th-Century Germany
Poverty and Crime in Early Modern Europe
Subordinated Groups in Early Modern Germany
Women and Gender in the Protestant Reformation
Books and Readers in Early Modern Germany


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Amir Engel

Dr. Amir Engel

Affiliated academic member

Received his PhD from Stanford University in 2011

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. His first book, an intellectual biography of the renowned Kabbalah Jewish German and Israeli scholar Gershom Scholem, is scheduled for publication with university of Chicago Press. Currently he is a research fellow at the Martin Buber Professur für Jüdische Religionsphilosophie, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main. His current project seeks entails a survey of postwar German-Jewish literature.

Gershom Scholem: an Intellectual Biography, Chicago University press, Forthcoming.
Renewal in the Shadow of the Catastrophe: Martin Buber, Hannah Arendt, and Paul Celan in Germany, German Studies Review, Forthcoming

Jacob Taubes, From Cult to Culture. Eds. Amir Engel and Charlotte Fonrobert, Stanford University Press, 2010, 445 pp.
“Gershom Scholem’s ‘Kabbalah and Myth’ Beyond German Jewish Romanticism,” (in German), Gershom Scholem in Deutschland: Zwischen Seelenverwandtschaft und Sprachlosigkeit, Eds. Matthias Morgenstern and Gerold Necker, Mohr Siebeck, (in press).
“Above the Abyss and Away: Barbara Honigmann, Gershom Scholem and German Jewish Culture after the Holocaust,” (in German), Weimarer Beiträge, (in press).
“Reading Gershom Scholem in Context: Salomon Maimon’s and Gershom Scholem’s German Jewish Discourse on Jewish Mysticism,” New German Critique, 121, Winter 2014.

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