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Indiana University Bloomington
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Matthias Lehmann

Associate Professor, Jewish Studies and History

I am a historian of early modern and modern Jewish history with a special interest in the history of the Spanish Jews and the Sephardi diaspora in the Mediterranean world. In my first book, Ladino Rabbinic Literature and Ottoman Sephardic Culture (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 2005), I look at the transformation of Ottoman Jewry in the nineteenth century through the lens of popularized rabbinic literature written in the vernacular language of the Ottoman Sephardim, Ladino or Judeo-Spanish. This vernacular rabbinic literature, negotiating between perpetuating rabbinic tradition and addressing the challenges of modernity, provides a fresh perspective on the modernization of Ottoman Jewry and the complex role of the rabbis in this process. My current project, tentatively entitled Philanthropy and Identity in the Sephardi Diaspora, 1660-1860, looks at rabbinic networks and networks of support for the Jewish communities of Palestine in the Sephardi diaspora prior to the advent of European and European-Jewish international organizations in the second half of the nineteenth century. I studied at the universities of Freiburg, Berlin, and Jerusalem, and did my graduate work at Freie Universitšt Berlin and the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas in Madrid. I am teaching courses on early modern and modern European and Mediterranean Jewish history.

Areas of Interest

  • Sephardic Studies
  • Modern Jewish History
  • Mediterranean Jewish History