Shalem College
Isaiah Gafni

Prof. Isaiah Gafni

Ph.D., Hebrew University of Jerusalem
M.A., Hebrew University of Jerusalem
B.A., Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Prof. Isaiah Gafni is a world-renowned scholar of Jewish history in the Second Temple period. Formerly a professor emeritus and the Sol Rosenbloom Chair of Jewish history at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he is the author or editor of numerous books, academic articles, and more than 100 entries in the Encyclopedia Judaica. Prof. Gafni was awarded the Holon Prize in Jewish Studies for his socio-cultural analysis of the Jews in Talmudic Babylonia, and was also honored by the Hebrew University’s Talmud Department with the prestigious Rosenthal Prize in Talmudic Studies. A dedicated teacher and mentor for more than four decades, Prof. Gafni is also the recipient of The Hebrew University’s Michael Milken Prize for exceptional teaching.

Prof. Gafni, who moved to Israel from New York in 1958, holds a Ph.D. in Jewish history from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he went served as director of the university’s Mandel Institute of Jewish Studies and as director of the graduate program of its Rothberg International School. He has also served as a visiting professor at numerous universities abroad, including Harvard, Yale, and Brown, and was honored as the Louis Jacobs Fellow in Rabbinic Thought at Oxford University

Much of Prof. Gafni’s academic career has also been devoted to the dissemination of Jewish historical knowledge on a popular level: He authored the first course in Jewish studies at Israel’s Open University, and served as chairman of the publications committee of Israel’s Zalman Shazar Center for Jewish History, devoted to the enhancement of Jewish historical consciousness. For a world-wide, English-speaking audience, Prof. Gafni filmed two courses for the highly regarded company, The Great Courses, a college-level series whose professors are leading figures in their fields of inquiry.

Prof. Gafni began his term as president of Shalem College on October 1, 2016.