June 09, 2011


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By Julia Ferrante

LEWISBURG, Pa. - A professor and top researcher from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem will join Bucknell University for the upcoming academic year as a Fulbright Scholar in Sephardic studies.

Zvi Stampfer, who also is an ordained rabbi and has a law degree, currently teaches at the Ben-Zvi Institute in Jerusalem. Proficient in English, German, Arabic and various ancient languages, Stampfer has edited and translated books about the laws of divorce and Jewish law.

While at Bucknell, Stampfer will research medieval Iraq and Spain as "interfaith breeding grounds for jurisprudential cross-fertilization," examining and comparing Jewish law as it was shaped in medieval Iraq and Andalusia. He also will teach two courses -- Sephardic Jews: Muslim-Jewish Cultural Interaction in the Middle Ages and Topics in Sephardic Judaism: Sexuality in Jewish and Islamic Law.

Rivka Ulmer, professor of Jewish studies at Bucknell and chair of the Department of Religion, said Stampfer's research and expertise as a top scholar in his field is of "utmost importance" to the understanding of Judaism and Jewish-Muslim relations. His visit to Bucknell will allow students the opportunity to learn about the origins of today's conflicts in the Middle East, many of which stem from events in medieval times.  

"This is a unique opportunity for our students to learn about Judaism beyond the recent crises," Ulmer said. "I hope that students will learn, through their interactions with Professor Stampfer, that Israel is a normal country with top scientists in many fields and a culture that promotes creative learning. Almost everything in modern Judaism is an outcome of rabbinic Judaism of late antiquity and the Middle Ages or a reaction to it."

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