Speaker Bio:

Prof. Rachel Elior is the John and Golda Cohen Professor of Jewish Philosophy and Jewish Mystical Thought and the head of the Department of Jewish Thought in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  She is one of the foremost experts in the world on Jewish mysticism, and is widely regarded as one of the most important activists and theoreticians on behalf of women in Israel.

Prof. Elior was born in Jerusalem, and earned both her BA and PhD Summa cum Laude at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where she has taught since 1978 to date. Her research interests are focused on the history of Jewish Mysticism and Kabbalah, on Early Jewish Mysticism in antiquity known as the Merkavah and Heikhalot Literatures, on Sabbatianism, Hasidism and Frankism in the modern era and on presence and absence of women in Jewish intellectual history.

Prof. Elior has taught at Princeton University, Tokyo University and Yeshiva University, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Case Western University in Cleveland, Oberlin College and University College, London. She was a research fellow of the Oxford Center for Hebrew and Jewish Studies and she is a senior research fellow at the Scholion Interdisciplinary Center of the Hebrew University and a senior research fellow at Van Leer institute in Jerusalem (where she participates in the Framework for Contemporary Jewish Thought and Identity).

She has written 13 books and has edited 7 others. Her three latest English books are Jewish Mysticism: The Infinite Expression of Freedom Oxford: Littman 2007; The Mystical Origins of Hasidism, Oxford: Littman 2006 and The Three Temples: On the Emergence of Jewish Mysticism, Oxford: Littman 2004 (The book has been nominated as a finalist in the Jewish Book Award 2004). The last three books that she edited are: Creation and Re-Creation in Jewish Thought: Festschrift in Honor of Joseph Dan on the Occasion of his Seventiesth Birthday, Eds. Rachel Elior and Peter Schafer, (Tubingen: Mohr 2005) HaHalom ve Shivro: The Sabbatian Movement and its Aftermath: Messianism, Sabbatianism and Frankism, (2 volumes) (Jerusalem: JSJT 2001); Men and Women: On Gender Judaism and Democracy, (Jerusalem: Van Leer and Urim  2004).

Prof. Elior is the recipient of many awards, among them the Fridenberg excellence award of the Israeli National Academy for the Sciences, Yigal Alon-Brekha fellowship, Warburg prize, Memorial Foundation fellowship and Yad Avi Hayishuv award. In May 2006, she was awarded the Gershom Scholem Award for the research of kabbalah by The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.