The Shalom Spiegel Institute for Medieval Hebrew Poetry

The Spiegel Institute was established in 1996 in memory of Shalom Spiegel (1899–1984), one of the greatest scholars of Judaica of his generation and a leading expert in medieval Hebrew literature.

Dr. Spiegel taught at JTS from 1944 until his death 40 years later. The institute carries on Dr. Spiegel's work in medieval Hebrew literature by providing fellowships to graduate students in the field, fostering international research projects, and caring for and providing access to the research materials assembled by Dr. Spiegel during his long and distinguished career.

Summer Seminars in Medieval Hebrew Poetry

The Shalom Spiegel Institute for Medieval Hebrew Poetry at The Jewish Theological Seminary holds a one-week intensive seminar in medieval Hebrew poetry at JTS every few years. The courses meet daily from Sunday through Friday with the curriculum consisting of three mini-courses such as:

  • Ibn Gabirol
  • The genre of the maqama
  • Manuscripts and paleography

The summer seminar is available without charge and without academic credit to up to 20 graduate students who are working in medieval Jewish studies or Hebrew literature. Participants' Hebrew must be sufficiently advanced to permit them to study Medieval Hebrew poetry in the original language.

The program is intended to supplement academic programs that offer medieval Jewish studies and Hebrew literature but do not provide courses in which Hebrew poetry is read in the original. It is also expected to benefit students in programs in which such courses are offered, but whose academic interests make it desirable for them to acquire more intensive training in this area.

Students who participated in past Spiegel Institute Summer Seminars may apply again. Arrangements are made for returning students not to duplicate the manuscript and paleography work completed on the earlier occasion.

Program Details:

  • Opens with an informal gathering on Sunday and immediately begins with two separate two-hour class sessions
  • Monday to Thursday: three two-hour class sessions per day, with appropriate coffee breaks
  • Friday: one class session and a panel discussion, followed by a concluding luncheon of a somewhat more ceremonial nature
  • Group lunch with students and faculty each weekday
  • Mini-courses are supplemented by evening lectures and entertainment
  • Students will be housed in the dormitory of a local institution
  • Subvention funds for transportation may be available


Dr. Raymond P. Scheindlin, director, is professor of Medieval Hebrew Literature at The Jewish Theological Seminary.

He is the author of Wine, Women, and Death: Medieval Hebrew Poems on the Good Life (1986); The Gazelle: Medieval Hebrew Poems on God, Israel, and the Soul (1991); The Song of the Distant Dove: Pilgrimage Poems by Judah Halevi (2007); and numerous articles and translations. He has taught the course on Ibn Gabirol.

Dr. Jonathan Decter, assistant professor and the Edmond J. Safra Chair in Sephardic Studies in the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University, is a specialist in Hebrew literature in the medieval Judeo-Arabic environment and the author of Out of the Garden: Estrangement and Transition in Iberian Jewish Literature (2007).

Dr. Menahem Schmelzer, former librarian of the The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary, is both a specialist in medieval Hebrew poetry and a distinguished expert on Hebrew books and manuscripts. He is the author of Isaac Ben Abraham Ibn Ezra: Poems (1980) and Studies in Jewish Bibliography and Medieval Hebrew Poetry (2006).

For further information about future sessions, write the director at