Ada Rapoport-Albert

Ada  Rapoport-Albert’s London doctoral dissertation was a study of the process by which the Hasidic movement, which began in mid 18th century Poland, developed from a small circle of charismatic individuals into a fully institutionalized mass movement of spiritual revival, which swept through much of East-Central and Eastern European Jewry in the course of the 19th century. Since then, Prof. Rapoport-Albert has published many studies of Hasidism, focusing on its distinctive institutions, particular schools of thought, problematic historiographical practices, and the nature of women’s affiliation with the movement. She edited the collective volume Hasidism Reappraised (1996), and co-edited a special issue of the journal Jewish History entitled Toward a New History of Hasidism (2013). She is a member of the international team of Hasidic scholars engaged in the collaborative production of a major new history of Hasidism, working under the auspices of the Simon Dubnow Institute in Leipzig. In addition to her work on Hasidism, Prof. Rapoport-Albert's interests include gender issues in the history of Judaism, especially the gendered perception of the ascetic life and its implications for the Jewish mystical tradition. She is completing a book entitled Female Bodies - Male Souls: Asceticism and Gender in the Jewish Mystical Tradition. Her study of the exceptional prominence of women in the 17th-century messianic heresy of Sabbatai Zevi, including its 18th-century sectarian ofshoots, was published in 2011 as Women and the Messianic Heresy of Sabbatai Zevi, 1666-1816.  Professor Rapoport-Albert directed a major 5-year AHRC-funded research project on the linguistic (largely Aramaic) and literary context of the Zohar - the most influential literary product of the medieval Kabbalah

Course taught:  

Asceticism, Mysticism, and Gender in Jewish Tradition