Prof. Yaron Harel, of Bar-Ilan University’s Israel and Golda Koschitzky Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry, has been Dean of BIU’s Faculty of Jewish Studies since 2018. He has published books and dozens of articles in leading journals in Israel and abroad that focus on the social, cultural and spiritual life of the Jewish communities in Syria, Iraq, Kurdistan, Yemen, Bukhara, Greece, Lebanon, the Land of Israel, and Egypt in modern times.
A graduate of BIU’s direct doctoral program in Jewish History, Prof. Harel has chaired the Koschitzky Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry, while also chairing the Dahan Center’s Academic Committee. He is the incumbent of BIU’s Yekutiel and Hannah Klein Chair in the History of the Modern Rabbinate in Europe. He has also taught at Jordan Valley Regional College, Safed Regional College, Touro College, Schechter Institute, Yeshiva University (New York) and Nanjing University (China) and was a visiting scholar at New York University.
Prof. Harel has won numerous scholarships and awards, including the Wolfson Post-doctorate Scholarship in the Humanities (Israel Academy of Sciences); the Ben Zvi Prize for his book "By Ships of Fire to the West: Changes in Syrian Jewry during the Period of the Ottoman Reform 1840-1880”; the Frankfurter Award (BIU) for the essay "Rabbi Isaac Aboulafia: Leader of the Education Revolution in Damascus 1864-1895"; the Shazar Prize for his book "Between Intrigues and Revolution: The Appointment and Dismissal of Chief Rabbis in Baghdad, Damascus and Aleppo 1744–1914"; and the President of the State Award for 2010.
He has received research grants from the Israel Science Foundation (ISF), the Research Foundation of the World Center for Aleppo (Halab) Jews Traditional Culture, Yad Tabenkin, the Ihel Foundation, the National Authority for Ladino Culture, the Rivlin Institute for the Research of Erets Yisrael, the Amado Foundation (UCLA), and the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism (the Hebrew University.).
Prof. Harel sits on the editorial board of journals and academic publishing houses, including the Shazar Center, the Ben-Zvi Institute, and the Bialik Institute; and he is a member of the Middle East and Islamic Studies Association of Israel. As to his public roles, Prof. Harel served as a member of the Allocation Committee of the Ministry of Religious Affairs for religious research Institutions, as chair of the History Study Committee of the Ministry of Education, and as vice chairman of the Historical Society of Israel.
Bar-Ilan’s Faculty of Jewish Studies, headed by Prof. Harel, is the largest of its kind in the academic world and publishes ten journals, including an electronic journal. The faculty has some 300 academic faculty members and 2,000 students. In addition, thousands of other university students take Jewish heritage courses.