Research Group

Research Group: Big Data and Planets

big data

[RG # 157] Big Data and Planets

May 1, 2019 – July 31, 2019

Organizer:

Tsevi Mazeh (Tel Aviv University)

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Astronomy is in the midst of a transformation brought on by exponentially progressing technological advances in the information age. New detector capabilities and faster computation have created a new era in which the use of advanced data mining and inference methods could bring new answers to long-standing scientific questions. The proposed research group, which includes leading figures in data analysis of exo-planets will 

• prepare algorithms for analysis of data from the forthcoming TESS space mission, 

• apply Gaussian Processes and machine learning algorithms to model stellar variability in transit and radial-velocity studies of exo-planets, and 

• study exo-planetary system architectures by developing population models and confront them with the accumulating data, using new statistical tools. 

We expect the research group to provide a better understanding of the exo-planetary population via advanced statistical tools — a giant leap in one of the most exciting fields of present science. 

 

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Research Group: The Reception and Impact of Aristotelian Logic in Medieval Jewish Culture

medieval jewish

[RG # 156]  The Reception and Impact of Aristotelian Logic in Medieval Jewish Culture

Sept. 1, 2018 - July 1, 2019

Organizers:
Charles Manekin (University of Maryland),
Yehuda Halper (Bar-Ilan University)

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The purpose of the research group is to investigate: the reception, followed by the naturalization, of Aristotelian logic into medieval Jewish cultures in Europe; and the repercussions of the introduction of logic into the Jewish intellectual matrix in numerous other areas of Jewish thought, beyond the field of logic itself. The proposed group will bring together scholars from various corners of medieval intellectual history: two historians of logic (specializing in the history of logic in Hebrew and Arabic); historians of medieval science, medicine, and philosophy; and scholars who study medieval religious polemic and Biblical exegesis, with an emphasis on the use of logic therein. Among the questions to be considered will be: What was the place of logic in the overall transfer of rationalist philosophical/scientific culture to European Jews in the Middle Ages (12th-15th centuries)? How did the study of logic affect intellectual activity in various areas, including traditional Jewish subjects (e.g. religious polemics; medicine; biblical exegesis; Talmud study).

By highlighting the interdisciplinary importance of medieval logic in Hebrew, we anticipate that the impact of this group will extend beyond the history of medieval philosophy, into the fields of general European medieval culture and history, Christian intellectual history, history of philosophy and logic, history of medicine, kabbalah, etc. We hope to bring to the attention of scholars of Jewish intellectual history and historians of logic just how widespread the study of logic by Jews in the Middle Ages was, and how it impacted their other intellectual endeavors.

 

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Research Group: The Day Unit in Antiquity and the Middle Ages

humanities

[RG # 151]  The Day Unit in Antiquity and the Middle Ages

Mar 1, 2018 - Aug 1, 2018

Organizers:

Jonathan Ben-Dov (University of Haifa) 
Sacha Stern (University College London)

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This project aims to shed light on a dark corner in history, which was surprisingly very little investigated until now: how was it that the unit of ‘day’ and its primary division into 12 ‘hours’ came to ne conceived in human culture? The division seems to have been gradually developed in ancient Egypt and then migrated also to cuneiform sources from Mesopotamia. It then circulated, not quite smoothly, into the Greek world and subsequently into western late antique and medieval culture. This account remains vague because there is no comprehensive and solid research that could clarify it more pointedly.

New concepts of the division of the day required proper technological means to express them. After tracing this historical riddle, however, a lot remains to be explored for subsequent periods in history. We ask how the science and technologies of time measurement determined the structure and division of the day unit, conceptually as well as in practice, and conversely, to what extent did conceptual and practical divisions of the day unit underpin and influence the development of time measurement technologies. Time is in many ways a human construction, which requires a set of rituals and cultural agents in order to reinforce it. We aim to study these various mechanisms.

The suggested team is a unique combination of experts for the history of time in their respective fields. Such a group has never before been assembled to study this type of question. The group consists of historians of science and technology as well as of law and of religious and cultural institutions. The historical periods and geographical spread covered by the group is exceptionally wide: from ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, to ancient Jewish culture (Second Temple, rabbinic) and into Medieval Judaism, Greek and Roman history, Islamic culture, and the literature of medieval Ethiopia.

 

 

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Research Group: Geometric,Topological and Computational Aspects of High-Dimensional Combinatorics

[RG # 153]  Geometric, Topological and Computational Aspects of High-Dimensional Combinatorics

Sep 1, 2017 - Jul 1, 2018

Organizers:  

Alexander Lubotzky (The Hebrew University) 
Tali Kaufman (Bar-Ilan University) 

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Combinatorics in general and the theory of expander graphs, in particular, have been fruitful areas of  interaction of pure and applied mathematics. In recent years a "high dimensional" theory has been emerged. This theory beside its intellectual interest has also a great potential for various applications in mathematics and computer science. This theory calls for a cooperation of experts in combinatorics, topology, geometry, group theory and computer science. We propose to organize a program that will bring together people from these areas in order to create a community of scholars who can cooperate on these new challenges.

 

 

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Research Group: New Directions in the Study of Javanese Literature

jav

[RG # 155] New Directions in the Study of Javanese Literature

September 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019

Organizer:

Ronit Ricci (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

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Javanese literature is among the world’s richest and most unusual literary traditions yet it is currently little known outside of Java, Indonesia. The vast majority of Javanese texts, in manuscript and print form, remain untouched by scholars.

The Javanese are the largest Muslim ethno-linguistic group in the world and the largest ethnic group in Indonesia, with their language spoken today by approximately 100 million people. Beginning in the ninth century and into the present they have produced a complex, diverse and intricate literary corpus that is a gateway to understanding Javanese writing practices, approaches to language, poetics, and translation strategies. Through its narrative histories, theological and legal treatises and interlinear translations from Arabic to Javanese, this literature also offers insights on Java’s remarkable transition to Islam, half a world away - geographically, culturally and linguistically - from Islam’s birthplace in the Middle East.

The study of Javanese in western universities has declined dramatically and it is currently on the verge of disappearance. The research group aims to revitalize this important humanistic field by:

  1. creating a rare opportunity for scholars to read, study and discuss Javanese texts collaboratively

  2. examining and analyzing yet unstudied Javanese works, thus broadening the basis of Javanese texts on which to generalize and theorize

  3. exploring anew previously studied texts, employing innovative methodological and theoretical perspectives from Comparative Literature, Islamic Studies, Cultural Studies and Performance Studies, and

  4. in light of the above, reconceptualizing and remapping major dimensions of the field of Javanese literature including periodization, contextualization, literary categorizations, and interpretive methods.

Mindful of the newness of Indonesian and Javanese Studies within Israeli academia, group members also aim to contribute (individually and collectively) to the expansion and strengthening of these fields in Israel. 

 

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Research Group: The Subject of Antiquity: Contours and Expressions of the Self in Ancient Mediterranean Culture

physics

[RG # 152]  The Subject of Antiquity: Contours and Expressions of the Self in Ancient Mediterranean Culture

Sept. 1, 2017 - July 1, 2018

Organizers:

Ishay Rosen-Zvi (Tel Aviv University) 
Maren Niehoff (The Hebrew University)

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There is a growing scholarly consensus that new notions of the self emerged in Greco-Roman Antiquity, which prompted philosophers, artists, law-makers and biographers to conceive of human beings as individuated selves, situated in specific cultural and historical contexts. We wish to examine these emerging discourses of the self, their interaction and expressions in the material and textual culture of Greeks and Romans, Jews and Christians.

While such an intellectual project seems very much a scholarly desideratum, it is also a complex challenge, since its successful achievement is contingent upon bringing together scholars from disparate disciplines. The constraints imposed by existing academic frameworks are thus often an impediment to its realization. We believe that the Institute provides the most suitable venue for a joint venture to explore the potential of combining various areas of research in order to achieve new understandings of this phenomenon.

The proposed research group consists of leading experts and one young scholar in the fields of Greek philosophy, Roman law and literature, Early Christianity, Jewish Hellenism and rabbinics. Most of us are in the process of embarking on book projects in new areas, which require intensive collaboration with colleagues in adjacent fields. Working closely together for a period of a year will enable us to shed new light on areas and genres which have regularly been studied in isolation. We hope to highlight both shared understandings across religious boundaries as well as culturally distinct types of self-fashioning.

 

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fellow

Oded Zinger

FELLOW
Duke University
Oded is a Perilman Postdoctoral Fellow at Duke University Center for Jewish Studies. His research interests are the social and cultural history of …

Research Group: Rethinking Early Modern Jewish Legal Culture: New Sources, Methodologies and Paradigms

legal culture

[RG # 154] Rethinking Early Modern Jewish Legal Culture: New Sources, Methodologies and Paradigms

September 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019

Organizers:

Jay Berkovitz (University of Massachusetts Amherst),
Arye Edrei (Tel Aviv University)

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A substantial number of new sources for the study of Jewish history and law have come to the attention of scholars during the past fifteen years. Only recently, rabbinic and lay court records from Jewish communities in early modern Europe and the Mediterranean world have begun to be inspected, though very few systematic studies of these sources have yet been undertaken. Rabbinic and community court records are fundamental not only to our understanding of Jewish autonomy and politics. They also represent a basic tool for discovering how Jewish law functioned in practice. Our goal is to incorporate these sources into the historical narrative so that we can better understand the role that Jewish and general law played in the life of individuals and their communities.

The following questions are central to the year-long investigations that are planned:

  1. Did Jews engage in forum shopping between Jewish and non-Jewish courts, how was this viewed by rabbinic and lay authorities, and where there was opposition, what were the steps taken to prevent this?

  2. Were adjustments in Jewish law (halakhah) among these steps, how familiar were Jews with general law, and did Jewish jurists incorporate aspects of general law, such as the ius commune, into their decisions?

The proposed Research Group intends to use rabbinic and lay court records to (re)define the place of Jewish law in daily life through modern legal theory and historical investigation.

Toward this end, we will place historians and legal scholars in dialogue on the substance and ramifications of these recently rediscovered sources. 

 

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Verena Kasper-Marienberg

Verena Kasper-Marienberg

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NC State University

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Verena Ines Kasper-Marienberg is a professor of History at North Carolina State University.

Her research focuses on the intersection of Jewish and Christian communities in the early modern period. She is especially interested in questions of legal practice, gender relations, and socio-economic structures in early modern societies.  In her teaching, she focuses on Jewish religion and culture, minority history, early modern autobiographies, the history of museums, and the rhetorical structures of political texts.

2018-2019 Fellow: Rethinking Early Modern Jewish Legal Culture 

Read more about Professor Kasper-Marienberg here

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Dovi Poznanski

Dovi Poznanski

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Tel Aviv University
Professor Dovi Poznanski is a senior lecturer and researcher at Tel Aviv University.
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His main research interests focus on the observation and study of supernovae of the different kinds, thermonuclear or core-collapse, nearby or far away, known or predicted. Recently, he has been working on the subject of cosmic dust and the interstellar medium, with a focus on developing tools to correct for the effect of dust on cosmological and astrophysical observations.

2018-2019 Fellow: Big Data and Planets

Read more about Professor Poznanski here.  

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Debra Kaplan

Debra Kaplan

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Bar-Ilan University

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Debra Kaplan is a faculty member of the Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry at Bar-Ilan University. A social historian, her research focuses on the daily life in premodern Ashkenaz. Kaplan has also written several articles about Jewish women and economics, about Jewish autobiographical texts, and about Jews and the Reformation.

2018-2019 Fellow: Rethinking Early Modern Jewish Legal Culture 

Read more about Dr. Kaplan here

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