Folklorist and Art Historian

Shalom Sabar

Shalom Sabar is Professor of Jewish Art and Folklore at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Sabar is the last Jewish baby born and circumcised in the ages old neo-Aramaic speaking Kurdish-Jewish community of Zakho. He earned his PhD in Art History from UCLA (1987), writing on the illustrated marriage contracts of the Jews in Renaissance and Baroque Italy. His research joins together the disciplines of art history and folklore, highlighting issues pertaining to the folk nature of Jewish art and Jewish material culture, visual materials and objects associated with rituals in the life and year cycles, and the evidence these materials provide about the relationships between the Jewish minorities and the societies that hosted them in Christian Europe and the Islamic East.

Among his books are: Ketubbah: Jewish Marriage Contracts of the Hebrew Union College Skirball Museum and Klau Library (1990); Mazal Tov: Illuminated Jewish Marriage Contracts from the Israel Museum Collection, Jerusalem (1994); Jerusalem – Stone and Spirit: 3000 Years of History and Art (with Dan Bahat; 1997); The Life Cycle [of the Jews in the Lands of Islam; 2006]. Sabar served as editor of Rimonim (a Hebrew periodical of Jewish art), co-editor of Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Folklore, and is on the editorial board of the periodical Pe’amim and a multi-volume series dedicated to the Jewish communities in the lands of Islam (both published by Ben Zvi institute).

He serves as a visiting professor and lectures widely in universities, museums, and public institutions in Israel, Europe and the US. Currently Prof. Sabar serves as the Schusterman Visiting Scholar in the Stroum Jewish Studies Program at the University of Washington, Seattle WA. In addition, he guides travelling seminars to Jewish sites in Europe, North Africa and Central Asia.

One of Prof. Sabar’s hobbies has been collecting a wide range of Jewish ephemera, which serve him and his students as an invaluable resource for study, research and teaching.

In the context of the history of The Magnes, Professor Sabar recalls that

Seymour Fromer z.l. was a close friend for many years. I admired and loved the man and his amazing achievements at the Magnes. In addition, I was a co-editor of a book Seymour and the Magnes published: A Crown for a King: Studies in Jewish Art, History, and Archaeology in Memory of Stephen S. Kayser.