Sabbatai Tsvi: Man, Messiah, and Living Myth

For the Public
Monday, November 21, 2022
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EST

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Sabbatianism—the movement that evolved around the figure of Sabbatai Tsvi—is considered the largest and most impactful messianic phenomenon in Jewish history. This talk will explore the metamorphosis of Tsvi’s historical and sacred image through cross-cultural interactions between Jews and Muslims in Ottoman society. We will begin with the scandalous events of the movement’s heyday in the mid-seventeenth century, and end with its late peculiar offshoot in the twentieth century.  

About the “Messiahs and Messianism” Series

How did Jews in the past envision and enact messianic futures? Did the appearance of a messianic figure always stand in tension with normative Judaism—and how were such figures received by non-Jews? What traditions and ideas did Jews from the ancient through the early modern world draw on in building messianic movements and myths? Spanning the first through the nineteenth centuries, this series explores the background and outlook of Jewish messianic actors and thinkers, including familiar names and those who are less well known.


About the image above: Illustration from Account of a Journey from Venice to Palestine, Mount Sinai and Egypt (German, ca. 1467), British Library, Egerton 1900, courtesy of


Hadar Feldman Samet

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Hadar Feldman Samet is an assistant professor at the department of Jewish History at Tel Aviv University. She teaches and researches the history of Jews in the Islamic world, focusing on the study of the cultural practices and devotional lives of the Sephardi diaspora in the Ottoman Empire and its multifaceted encounters with Muslim culture and society.

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We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Klatt Family and the Harry Stern Family Foundation.