Dr. Daniel Tsadik, a former professor of Sephardic and Iranian Studies at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, has been awarded The Prime Minister’s Prize (Israel) for the Encouragement and Empowerment of Jewish Communities in Arab Countries and Iran for The Jews of Iran and Rabbinic Literature: New Perspectives, published by Mosad Ha-Rav Kook.
The prestigious prize is awarded annually to encourage research of Jewish communities in Arab countries and Iran. The selection process is conducted by Israel’s Ministry of Social Equality in coordination with the Prime Minister’s Office.
Dr. Tsadik’s book addresses the question of Iranian Jewry’s familiarity with rabbinic literature from the 16th century to the beginning of the 20th century. Many of the book’s theses challenge and revise prevailing views that see this Jewry as largely isolated from world Jewry and its rabbinic legacy.
“I came across some letters that were written in impressive Hebrew, at times utilizing a variety of Jewish sources, from the Hebrew Bible to the Mishna, midrashim, Talmud and kabbalistic texts. This surprised me, as the common wisdom was that the Jews of Iran were cut off from the Jews residing elsewhere, and, consequently, were ignorant of mainstream Judaism.” In the last few years, after finishing Between Foreigners and Shi’is: Nineteenth-Century Iran and its Jewish Minority (Stanford University Press), he decided to revisit those letters.
“In undertaking my research for the current book, a whole world became open to me as I came across a lot more than just missives, such as Hebrew and Judeo-Persian manuscripts, Shi’ite anti-Jewish polemical compositions, missionary reports and diplomatic dispatches, among other sources,” he said. “The end result, in showing the affinity of Jews in Iran with rabbinic works, is a revision of the field.”
“Professor Tsadik brought a unique perspective to us during his years at Revel,” said Dr. Daniel Rynhold, dean of the school. “His immense popularity among students and colleagues means that we share his delight at this prestigious award honoring his groundbreaking work on the history of Iranian Jewry.”