Yael Zerubavel, Director

Yael Zerubavel

The Founding Director of the Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Study, Dr. Yael Zerubavel is also a Professor of Jewish Studies and History. She has taught courses on Israeli culture, Jewish memory, the Jewish immigrant experience, Jewish space, memory and trauma, and Israeli literature, as well as an interdisciplinary graduate seminar in cultural memory.

Professor Zerubavel is a scholar of memory studies with an expertise in modern Israeli society and culture. Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach that informs both her teaching and writing, her work explores collective memory and identity, national myths, the transformation of traditions, war and trauma, and cultural perceptions of space. Her work addresses the impact of nationalism, secularization, immigration and dislocation, the Holocaust and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the reshaping of Jewish memory in Israel and developments within Israeli culture. Her award-winning book—Recovered Roots: Collective Memory and the Making of Israeli National Tradition (1995)—and numerous articles focus on the cultural construction of Israeli national myths and the politics of commemoration, drawing on historical sources, Hebrew literature, educational materials, popular and folkloric forms, as well as in-depth interviews.

Professor Zerubavel continues to explore the impact of the Holocaust and the Middle Eastern conflict on attitudes towards death, sacrifice, and bereavement and the image of the Israeli war-widow in Israeli fiction and film. She is nearing completion of a book entitled Desert in the Promised Land: Nationalism, Politics, and Symbolic Landscapes (forthcoming), and is at work on another that examines contemporary representations of antiquity and the changing role of the Bible in contemporary Israeli culture. Her study examines an array of cultural texts and mnemonic practices including works of fiction, media articles, popular performances, and tourist sites.