Current fellow Hadar Feldman Samet has been working for years on a trove of particularly intriguing but difficult manuscripts. She is decoding the dense, multilingual songs of the sect of Sabbatians that maintained secretive religious beliefs and practices for centuries. Based on indicators in the handwritten texts of hundreds of hymns, full of kabbalistic and messianic symbols and abbreviations, she has managed to reconstruct the tunes that some were sung to.
JQR 112.3 is now available, online* and in print.
In this issue:
Hadar Feldman Samet’s essay Ottoman Songs in Sabbatian Manuscripts: A Cross-Cultural Perspective on the Inner Writings of the “Ma’aminim” (JQR 109.4) explores a little-known set of liturgical songs produced and used by members of the religious group devoted to Shabbetai Tsvi, a seventeenth-century messiah who was embraced by Jewish masses all over the world but then rejected by most after his conversion to Islam.
The Katz Center used the 2018 Meyerhoff Lecture as an opportunity to reflect on the field of Sephardi studies by inviting field pioneer Aron Rodrigue (Stanford University) to discuss his own fascinating intellectual biography, and to trace its legacy through the work of three influential students of the next generation. Julia Philips Cohen, one of Rodrigue’s students, now associate professor of History at Vanderbilt University, ended her reflections with the following.