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Welcoming Simon Rabinovitch

by Laura Frader

The Jewish Studies Program is delighted to welcome Professor Simon Rabinovitch, with a joint appointment in Jewish Studies and History. Professor Rabinovitch received his PhD from Brandeis University in 2007 in Comparative History and has taught at Boston University since 2009. Between 2007 and 2009 he was an Alexander Grass Postdoctoral Associate at the University of Florida. Professor Rabinovitch’s areas of expertise are Modern European Jewish History, Russian History, and Modern Legal History. While at Boston University he was Associate Director of the Arts and Sciences Core Curriculum and held an appointment in the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies. Professor Rabinovitch has also held visiting appointments at several universities including Tel Aviv University, the University of Helsinki, and Hebrew College, Boston. He is currently an Associate of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard. In 2017-2018 he was a Luce/ACLS Fellow in Residence at the Northeastern Humanities Center.

Professor Rabinovitch’s research has focused on the legal, political, and intellectual dimensions of Jewish political development and nationalist claims. His first book, Jewish Rites, National Rights: Nationalism and Autonomy in Late Imperial and Revolutionary Russia was published by Stanford University Press in 2014, received the Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award, and was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. In this book he examined the development of Jewish rights claims in Russia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, looking particularly at the writings of Jewish intellectuals and political activists. His edited volume, Jews and Diaspora Nationalism: Writings on Jewish Peoplehood in Europe and the United States (Brandeis University Press, 2012), gathered previously unpublished texts by Jewish intellectuals documenting Jewish Diaspora nationalism in the nineteenth century. Professor Rabinovitch’s research has turned increasingly to the legal dimensions of group rights and nationhood. His recent edited volume, Defining Israel: the Jewish State, Democracy, and the Law (Hebrew Union College Press, 2018) examines the controversies over Israel’s effort to pass a nation state law and what the effort to define Israel as a nation means for Israeli democracy. He is currently completing a second monograph, a comparative study of Jewish collective rights in Europe, North America, and Israel, under contract with Yale University Press.

In this work he challenges the belief that individual rights were always central to the emergence of liberal democracies. Studying Jewish communities, he argues, demonstrates how religious communities have forced democratic states to recognize collective rights. Professor Rabinovitch has lectured and presented conference papers widely, in the US, Canada, Israel, France, Germany, and Ukraine. He has received external support for his research from the Henry Luce Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Jewish Cultural Endowment. In addition to his many published articles and book chapters, Professor Rabinovitch has written for the Israeli daily Haaretz, and for Marginalia (Los Angeles Review of Books).

At Northeastern, Professor Rabinovitch will add not only his scholarly expertise, but will contribute much needed Jewish history courses to the curriculum of the Jewish Studies Program and will also teach courses on legal history, and on pre-revolutionary Russia, among others. It is a pleasure to welcome him to our community.

Laura Frader is Professor of History.

Read the rest of the Spring 2019 Newsletter here.

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