Former JTS Professor Haim Zalman Dimitrovsky Dies at 91

Press Contact: Holly Martin
Office: (212) 678-8950

August 9, 2011, New York, NY

On August 1, 2011, Dr. Haim Zalman Dimitrovsky (z”l), a revered faculty member of The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) for more than 30 years, passed away in Jerusalem at the age of 91. JTS joins his family, friends, colleagues, and students in mourning the loss of this venerable member of the Jewish community, and honors the extensive contribution Dr. Dimitrovsky made to JTS and to the field of Talmudic study.

Dr. Dimitrovsky began teaching Talmud and Rabbinics at JTS in 1951, eventually becoming the Judge Abraham Lieberman Professor of Talmudic Exegesis. In 1958, he was appointed to oversee the training of students for Talmudic, Midrashic, and Rabbinic studies. Many students he advised went on to become esteemed members of the academic community, including JTS professors and rabbis Shamma Friedman, Mayer Rabinowitz, Joel Roth, and Burton L. Visotzky. Dr. Dimitrovsky was also a mentor and role model for Professor Daniel Boyarin of the University of California, Berkeley, and Professor Marc Hirshman of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Dr. Dimitrovsky won the Israel Prize in 1994.

Dr. Dimitrovsky was a prolific writer as well as a valued teacher. He authored books and articles on a wide range of ancient to early modern Talmudic and Rabbinic subjects. One of his most significant publications was his Seridei Ha-Bavli, in which he pieced together fragments of the Babylonian Talmud produced in the 15th century and analyzed their impact on the learning of Spanish rabbis before and after the expulsion of Jews from Iberia. Dr. Dimitrovsky also devoted much of his life to studying Rabbi Solomon ibn Adret, the Rashba. The volumes he edited on the Rashba became the model for publishing the works of medieval rabbinic authorities. He was busy with yet another such project in his last days.

Chancellor Arnold M. Eisen, Board Chair Abby Joseph Cohen, JTS administrators and faculty, and the JTS community have lost a friend whose unwavering devotion to Jewish history, texts, and traditions and to the education of future Jewish scholars and leaders has been a paradigm for students of Judaism around the world. May Dr. Dimitrovsky’s family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

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