Zvi Zohar

 Home address: 34 Kiriat Yearim St., Giv'at Zeev, Israel 90917
 Home telephone:  972-2-362220
 E-mail : mszzohar@pluto.mscc.huji.ac.il

Ph.D. Institute of Contemporary Jewry, Hebrew University, 1988
Ph.D. Title: Halakhic Responses of Syrian and Egyptian Rabbis  to Legal and Technological Change


1981- present  - Founder and Coordinator, Center for Halakha and Contemporary Thought, Shalom Hartman Institute
1984- present  - Teaches at Hebrew University,  Institute of Contemporary Jewry, Jerusalem
1989- present  - Senior Scholar, Advanced Institute of Judaic Research, Shalom Hartman Institute.
1991- present  - Founder and Coordinator, Center for Sephardic Thought and Culture, Shalom Hartman Institute
1997- present   - Senior Lecturer, Ramat Gan College of Law

Teaching Record Taught various courses in the following categories:

 M.A. courses at Hebrew U. Institute for Contemporary Jewry
   * History of Jews in 20th century M.E. (Iraq, Egypt, Syria)
   * History of Jews in Modern Egypt
   * Halakha and Modernization in North Africa and the M.E.
   * Social and Cultural History of Jews in Late Ottoman & Mandatory Eretz Israel
   B.A. courses:
   * Halakhic Responses to Modernization by Sephardic Rabbis
   * History of Jews in 20th century Syria
   * History and Culture of Jews in Ottoman Egypt
   * History and Culture of Jerusalem's  Sephardic-Rabbinic Elite (1841-1991)
Courses in Jewish Law:
   * Introduction to Jewish Law and Halakha
   * Conversion and Jewish Identity in Jewish Law
   * Sociology of Halakha

Areas of Competence:

  * The Sociology and History of Jewish Law and Halakha
  * The History of the Jews of the Middle East in Modern Times
  * The Culture and Creativity of Sephardic-Oriental Rabbis in Modern Times

Work in Progress:

  At present, I am working on several articles and on two books; In addition, I have just received a grant which enables me to begin work on a new major research project.

Articles in Progress include:

   'A Religious-Cultural Socio-Drama in Interwar Aleppo'
    (An analysis and interpretation of a fascinating sequence of interaction between conservative, modernist and pragmatic social factions in the Jewish community of Halab in the 1930's)

   'Halakha, Suicide and Social Policy'
    )A sociological and cultural analysis of Rabbi Raphael Aharon Ben-Shim'on's c. 1895 policy decision to utilize halakha to mobilize social pressure against European-influenced suicid!!!!e in the Jewish community of Cairo)

   'A Jewish Arabist Society in Damascus'
    (Newspaper and archival sources reveal the existence in Damascus, c.1908-1916, of a group of young Jews who formed and conducted an 'Arabist' society; in this article I present and analyze the 'rise and fall' of the society, and the subsequent 'conversion' of some of its members to Zionism)

   'Should Ashkenazim Pray in Modern ['Sephardic'] Hebrew ?'
  (Following Ben-Yehuda, the modern Zionist revival of the Hebrew language adopted the pronunciation common amongst the Sephardic community of Eretz Israel. In 1932, Chief Rabbi Kook published an article in which he maintained that Ashkenazim are forbidden to pray with that pronunciation. Several contemporary Sephardic rabbis wrote halakhic and ideational responses, highly critical of Kook's position. In this article, I present and analyze the debate and its broader impl!!!!ications and meaning)

  Books in Progress include:

   Halakha, Deviance and Secularization: Halakhic Attitudes towards Public Desecrators of the Sabbath )from Talmudic times to the present (together with Prof. Avi Sagi)
    Talmudic texts affirm that the status of a person who publicly desecrates the Sabbath is equal to that of a [Jewish] idolater; Maimonides writes that both these deviants are 'as Gentiles in every respect'. The radical increa!!!!se [in the past two centuries] in the number of Jews who outrightly desecrate the Sabbath led to a fascinating diversification in the range of halakhic opinions with regard to the status of such Jews. In this book, Avi Sagi and I present and analyze the halakhic sources on the topic, from Talmudic to contemporary times. Following the methodology we employed in our book 'Giyyur and Jewish identity', we develop the notion of halakha as relating to concentric circles of Jewish identity, and discuss the implications of the material at hand for an understanding of halakhic responses to the modern secularization of the majority of the Jewish People.
    We plan to complete the manuscript by the end of 1999.

Traditional Innovation: Halakhic Responses of Algerian Rabbis to the Realities of Algerian Jewish Life, 1870-1962  (with rabbi David Asulin)
    In 1870, the vast majority of Jews resident in Algeria were unilaterally granted French citizenship. As French citizens, Algerian Jews became increasingly secularized and integrated into French civil and cultural identities (ultimately leading the vast majority to choose France and not Israel as their home, when Algeria attained independence in 1962).
These developments posed before Algeria's indigenous North African rabbis challenges of a scope and degree unknown in other Jewish communities in Muslim lands. In response, they formulated rich and fascinating halakhic rulings on a very wide range of topics and issues. In this book, Rabbi David Asulin and I present  and analyze this 'world of halakha' and its religious and cultural significances. We plan to complete the manuscript by the end of 2000.

New Research Project Initiated

Recently, I received a positive response to a request for a preliminary research grant which will enable me to begin work on a major new project, entitled:

   Halakhic Creativity in The State of Israel, 1948-1998

We are now entering the second half-century of the existence of the State of Israel. Arguably, never before in the history of the Jewish People have so many people devoted so much of their lives to Torah -- as in contemporary Israel. Also, many rabbis from many Diaspora communities came on 'aliya' to Israel, thereby enriching its 'Torah World'. What has all this endeavor produced?  Virtually no 'picture' or analysis exists of the fruits of halakhic writing in Israel, during the first 50 years. The goal of this project is to document, survey and analyze halakhic creativity in Israel. The grant I have received will enable a survey of books, monographs and rabbinic-halakhic articles written by rabbis who lived in Israel in the first decade )1948-1958(. This will then make possible a study of the contents and characteristics of these works --- the study to be published as the first of several volumes which will ultimatelyáò"ä) ( cover the full span of 1948-1998.

Publications   (H = Hebrew)

a. Books and Monographs

1.  TRADITION AND CHANGE: Halakhic Responses of Egyptian and Syrian Rabbis to Legal and Technological Change (H)  Ben-Zvi Institute, Jerusalem, 1993

2.  (with Avi Sagi)  GIYYUR AND JEWISH IDENTITY: a Study in Halakha (H) Bialik Institute, Jerusalem, 1994

Edited Volumes

1. STUDIES IN A RABBINIC FAMILY: THE DE BOTONS , Misgav Yerushalayim, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, 1998 (co-editors: M. Ben-Sasson, W.Z. Harvey, Y. Ben-Naeh, Zvi Zohar)

c. Articles
1.  The Halakhic Teachings of Modern Egyptian Rabbis (H) Pe'amim 16 (1983), p. 65-88.

2.  On the Relation Between Natural Language and the Language of Halakha, (H), In:  Rabbi S.Israeli, Rabbi Prof. N.Lamm, Dr. I.Raphael (eds.),   Rabbi J.B.Soloveichik Jubilee Volume  Mossad HaRav Kook (Jerusalem) & Ktav (New York), 1984 p. 59-71.

3.  Un grand decisionnaire sepharade defend les droits de la femme (A Great Sephardic Halakhic Respondent Supports Women's Sufferage) Pardes 2 (1985), p. 128-148.

4.  Halakhic Decision-Making in an Era of Change,(H)  In:  Shlomo Deshen (ed.),   Half the Nation, The Kotlar Institute for Judaism and Contemporary Thought, Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan, 1986. p. 21-51

5.  The Consumption of Sabbatical Year Produce in Biblical and Rabbinic Literature , In: Harvey E. Goldberg (ed.),  Judaism Viewed from Within and from Without: Anthropological Studies Albany (SUNY Press), 1986. p. 75-106

6.  Halakhic Responses of Syrian and Egyptian Rabbinical Authorities to Social and Technological Change,  Studies in Contemporary Jewry 2 (1986), p. 18-51.

7. Lowering Barriers of Estrangement:  Rabbinite-Karaite Intermarriage in Twentieth Century Egyptian Halakha,
 In: Shimon Shamir (ed.),   The Jews of Egypt, A Mediterranean Society in Modern Times,  Westview Press, Boulder and London, 1987. p. 143-168

8.  Between Alienation and Brotherhood: Karaite-Rabbinite Intermarriage according to Egyptian Jewish Scholars in the Twentieth Century (H) Pe'amim 32 (1987), p. 21-39. >=Revised Hebrew version of 7, above

9. The Alliance Israelite Universelle: Regarding its Character as a Missionary Society,and its Non-Uniform Impact on its Target  Communities,(H)  In: S.Schwarzfuchs (ed.),  The "Alliance" in the Communities of the Mediterranean Basin during the late 19th Century and its Socio-Cultural Impact, Misgav Yerushalayim, Jerusalem, 1987. p. 31-35

10. Halakha and Modernization in Egypt, 1882-1918 (H)  In: Jacob M. Landau (ed.),  The Jews in Ottoman Egypt, 1517-1914, Misgav Yerushalayim, Jerusalem, 1988 p. 577-608

11.   New Horizons: A Major 19th Century Baghdadi Posek's Hightened Awareness of Socio-Cultural Variety and Change, (H) Pe'amim 36 (1988), p. 89-107.

12.   "Seder Ha'Avodah" of The Atonement Day Service: Form,Function and Meaning,(H) AJS Review, XIV (1989).

13.   Three Traditional Modes of Understanding the Commandment of Tokheha (Rebuke) -  and their Socio-Religious Implications  In  S.Fishbane & Jack N. Lightstone (eds.):  Essays in the Social Scientific Study of Judaism and Jewish Society  , Concordia University, Montreal, 1990, p. 105-121

14.  Aleppo's Rabbis Act to Counter Erosion of their Economic and Political Standing (Late 19th and early 20th centure ) (H)
 In: Proceedings of the Tenth World Congress of Jewish Studies, Division B, volume 1, World Union of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem 1990 p. 281-288

15.    Jewish Communities in Syria 1880-1918: Demography, Economics and Communal Institutions in the Late Ottoman Period, (H) Pe'amim 44 (1990), p. 80-109.

16.   Dialogue Between a Philosopher and a Talmudist, S'vara, Vol. 2 (1 ) (1991) p.48-51 (with George Fletcher)

17.  La Tradition sepharade sur la galout et le sionisme politique: La position halakhique de R. Yaakov Moshe Toledano,
 Pardes, 15 (1992), p. 169-184.

18.  Activist Conservatives: The Socio-Religious Policy of Aleppo's Rabbis (c.1865-1945 )  (H) Pe'amim 55 (1993) p.57-78

19.  A Rabbi and Maskil in Alep!!!!po: Rabbi Yitzhak Dayan's 1923 Programmatic Essay on Jewish Education
 In: George Zucker and Yedida K. Stillman  (eds.), New Horizons in Sephardic Studies, SUNY Press, New York 1993, 93-107

20.  Le processus de responsum  In: Shmuel Trigano (ed.), La Societe Juive a Travers L'Histoire, Tome IV  Fayard Press, Paris, 1993, P. 179-199

21.  La circulation de la Halakha dans les espaces et les temps In: Shmuel Trigano (ed.),  La Societe Juive a Travers L'Histoire, Tome IV  Fayard Press, Paris, 1993, P. 245-!!!!290

22.  "Miqveh Yisrael HaShem": the rationale and the significance of the Atonement service (H)  AJS Review XIX,2 (1994)    [note: continues where #12 left off]

23.  Giyyur, Jewish Identity and Modernization: An Analysis of Halakhic Sources  Modern Judaism 15,1 (1995) 49-68 [with Avi Sagi]

24.  'The Halakhic Ritual of Giyyur and its Symbolic Meaning', Journal of Ritual Studies, 9, 1 (1995), 1-13 [with Avi Sagi]

25.  Reflections and Insights regarding the Immigration of Syrian Jews to Palestine in the 1940's  (H) Pe'amim 66,1 (1996) 43-69

26. Traditional Flexibility and Modern Strictness: A Comparative Analysis of the Halakhic Positions of Rabbi Kook and Rabbi Uzziel on Women's Suffrage, In: Harvey Goldberg (ed.),  Sephardi and Middle Eastern Jewries: History and Culture, Indiana University Press, 1996, 119-133

27.  'Sephardic Rabbinic Response to Modernity: Some Central Characteristics' In:. Deshen and W.P. Zenner (eds.),  Jews Among Muslims: The Anthropology of Communities in the Pre-Colonial Middle East, London: Macmillan and New York University Press, 1996, 64-80

28.  Sephardic Hakhamim, Modernity, and the Theology of Haim David HaLevi  In:  Walter Zenner and Kevin Avruch (eds.),  Critical Essays on Israeli Society, Religion, and Government (Books on Israel, Vol. IV) Albany (SUNY press) 1997, 115-136.

29. Giyyur, identite juive et modernisation, in: Florence Heymann & Danielle Storper Perez (eds.), Le Corps du Texte: pour une anthropologie des texts de la tradition juive, Paris (CNRS), 1997, 293-318 (with Avi Sagi)

30. The Independence of the Contemporary Posek (=halakhic decisor) with regard to halakhic precedent, in: Ze'ev Safrai and Avi Sagi (eds.), Between Authority and Autonomy in Jewish Tradition,  (H) Tel-Aviv, 1997, 304-320.

31. The Responsibilty of the Knesset for the Moulding of Halakha, in: Menahem Mautner, Avi Sagi and Ronen Shamir (eds.), Multiculturalism in a Democratic Jewish State: Memorial volume for Prof. Ariel Rosen-Zvi, Tel-Aviv, 1998, 301-339 (H)

32.  Residents of The King's Palace: the value and importance of life i!!!!n the Land of Israel, in the thought of  Sephardic rabbis who lived there  (c. 1750-1850)  (H)  In: Avi Ravitsky (ed.), The Land of Israel in Jewish Thought in Modern Times Ben Zvi Institute, Jerusalem, 1998, 326-358

33. Sephardic Halakhic Tradition on Galut and Political Zionism, In: Noam Stillman and Yedida K. Stillman (eds.),  From Iberia to Diaspora: Studies in Sephardic History and Culture, Leiden (Brill) 1999, 223-234

34. Religion: Rabbinic Tradition and the Impact of Modernization, in: Reeva S. Simon, Michael M. Laskier and Sara Reguer (eds.), A History of the Jews in the Middle East and North Africa in Modern Times (1798-1998), Columbia University Press, 1999 (in print)

35. Universal Political Ideals and Religious Zionism: Aspects of the Thought of Rabbi Haim David HaLevi, in: Avi Sagi, David Schwartz and Yedidya Stern (eds.), Judaism Between the Inner and the Outer: a Dialogue Between Cultural Worlds, Jerusalem (Magnes Press), 1999 (in print)  (H)

36.  'On the basis of Perfect Torah Judaism': Rabbi Ammiel's polemic against enlightenment, secularity, nationalism, Mizrahi and Agudah, in: Nahem Ilan  (ed.), 'Ayyin Tova' , -- Dialogue and Polemic in the Jewish Tradition,  (H) HaKibbutz Hameuchad press, Tel Aviv, 1999 (in press)

37. A Nationalist Thinker in Aleppo: an analysis of Rabbi Y. Dayyan's 'The Torah of Israel and the People of Israel', in: A. Sagi and Dov Schwartz (eds) One Hundred years of Religious Zionism, Bar Ilan U. Press, 1999 (in press)

38.  Rabbi Ya'akov Moshe Toledano's view on Exile and Political Zionism, in: A. Sagi and Dov Schwartz (eds) One Hundred years of Religious Zionism, Bar Ilan U. Press, 1999 (in press)