Yosef H. Yerushalmi, Scholar of Jewish History, Dies at 77

Historians in the News

Yosef Haim Yerushalmi, a groundbreaking and wide-ranging scholar of Jewish history whose meditation on the tension between collective memory of a people and the more prosaic factual record of the past influenced a generation of thinkers, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. He was 77 and lived in Manhattan.

The cause was emphysema, said his wife, Ophra Yerushalmi, a concert pianist.

An elegant writer and mesmerizing raconteur, Dr. Yerushalmi earned his reputation as one of his generation’s foremost Jewish historians by plumbing eclectic subjects like the history of the Jews expelled from Spain and Portugal in the 1490s, messianism, the intellectual history of modern German Jewry and Freud’s relationship with his religion. In 1982, Dr. Yerushalmi, then the Salo Wittmayer Baron professor of Jewish history, culture and society at Columbia University, published perhaps his most influential work, “Zachor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory,” a slim volume whose title bore the Hebrew imperative “Remember!”...

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