Jun. 25, 2020


Dr. Iris Idelson-Shein from BGU's Department of Jewish History was elected earlier this week a member of the Israel Young Academy ​of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

The election committee noted that, “Dr. Idelson-Shein has a proven track record of excellence in research and original thinking, initiative, and contributions to society in the public sphere."  Her term is for a period of four years.

This year, five researchers were elected to the prestigious forum. Members of the Israel Young Academy (eligible until 45 years of age) are first-class outstanding researchers who excel in their fields. The Israel Young Academy was established in 2012 as an incubator for ideas and initiatives to leverage Israel's academic abilities. Inter alia, the Academy aims to strengthen the relationship between Israeli academia and policymakers and between Israeli academia and society, to develop the abilities of young scholars in Israel, to promote research and scientific capabilities and to help deal with challenges of national and international importance.

Idelson-Shein completed her PhD at the School of Historical Studies at Tel Aviv University. Her dissertation focused on the ways in which Jewish authors dealt with the changes that took place in the understandings of identity and difference throughout the eighteenth century. The dissertation was published as a book by the University of Pennsylvania in 2014 titled: Difference of a Different Kind: Jewish Constructions of Race During the Long Eighteenth Century.  After obtaining her doctorate, she was a research fellow in the Historisches Seminar at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich and the Martin Buber Chair in Jewish Thought at Goethe University in Frankfurt. Her post-doc investigated representations of monstrosity in early modern Jewish literature and art.

Just under a year ago, she began a new research project, which received generous funding from the prestigious European Research Council (ERC), and which deals with translations of non-Jewish texts into Jewish languages (Yiddish, Hebrew, Ladino and Judeo-Italian) in early modern Europe.

Dr. Idelson-Shein has developed an interesting insight into studying history. Her motto – If you want to become acquainted with the past, you have to forget the present. “One of the common conceptions concerning historians is that they have been gifted with a good memory," she says, “But the truth is that historical research demands that first we forget everything we think that we know about human nature, about how people think and act. In my research I try to be as attentive as I can to the past, and each time I am amazed to discover just how much, if I only let it, history can surprise me."​