Yael Wilfand

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Research Associate in Rabbinic Literature

Yael Wilfand is responsible for rabbinic literature. 


Yael Wilfand earned her BA and MA in Jewish history from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (both Magna Cum Laude). During her years at Hebrew University, Yael also studied and taught Talmud and other Jewish texts in a number of Beit Midrash programs. She then attended Duke University, where she received her PhD in Religion (2011). An expanded version of her dissertation Poverty, Charity and the Image of the Poor in Rabbinic Texts from the Land of Israel was later published by Sheffield Phoenix Press (2014). This book explores rabbinic explanations of and attitudes toward poverty, and how rabbis in the land of Israel negotiated between biblical directives to care for the poor and Roman notions of hierarchy, benefaction and patronage. Yael continues to research rabbinic approaches to poverty and charity, and she has published a number of articles on these themes. Yael is also interested in the junctions of texts and material culture (such as epitaphs, architecture, mosaics), and in the relationship between rabbinic texts and the Roman- and Byzantine worlds. She has published also a number of articles on these subjects.

Yael was recruited to research rabbinic texts from the land of Israel for the ERC “Judaism and Rome” project in July 2015. Before joining the project, Yael was a postdoctoral fellow in the “Jewish Culture in the Ancient World” program. Since completing her dissertation, she has taught Jewish history at the Open University of Israel. In 2018–2019, she was a Research Associate at the Melton Centre for Jewish Education at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She now teaches Jewish history at the School of Basic Jewish Studies of Bar Ilan University.



Poverty, Charity and the Image of the Poor in Rabbinic Texts from the Land of Israel. Social World of Biblical Antiquity, Second Series, 9; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2014.

The Wheel that Overtakes Everyone: Poverty and Charity in the Eyes of Sages in the Land of Israel. Tel-Aviv: Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 2017. [Revised and expanded Hebrew version of English monograph].


Selected Papers

“Charity and Philanthropy.” Pages 293-310 in On the Economy and on the Sustenance: Judaism, Society and Economics. Edited by Itamar Brenner and Aharon Ariel Levi. Jerusalem: Reuven Mas, 2008. [Hebrew]

“Did the Rabbis Reject the Roman Public Latrine?” BABESCH Annual Papers on Mediterranean Archaeology84 (2009): 183-196.

 “Aramaic Tombstones from Zoar and Jewish Conceptions of the Afterlife.” Journal for the Study of Judaism 40 (2009): 510-539.

“From the School of Shammai to Rabbi Yehuda the Patriarch's Student: The Evolution of the Poor Man's Tithe.” Jewish Studies Quarterly 22 (2015): 36-61.

“Supporting non-Jewish Poor: 'Goyim' (Gentiles), 'Others', and 'Those Who Do Not Belong to the Covenant'” Sidra: Journal for the Study of Rabbinic Literature 30 (2016): 35-46. [Hebrew]

“'Even a Horse, Even a Slave'?: The Provision of Personal Needs versus the Application of Uniform Standards in Rabbinic Almsgiving.” Pages 369-399 in Pursuing Justice: Society and Economy in Jewish Sources. Edited by Hanoch Dagan and Benjamin Porat. Jerusalem: The Israel Democracy Institute, 2016. [Hebrew]

 “‘No-one can Avoid this Measure’ Explaining Poverty among Individuals according to the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds.” Pages 215-240 in Between Babylonia and the Land of Israel: Studies in Honor of Isaiah M. Gafni. Edited by Geoffrey Herman, Meir Ben Shahar and Aharon Oppenheimer. Jerusalem: The Zalman Shazar Center for Jewish History, 2016.

“Serpent or Furled Sail: An Analysis of the Ships in the Madaba Map.” Eastern Christian Art in its Late Antique and Islamic Contexts 10 (2014-2016): 113-124.

 “The Roman Context for the Rabbinic Ban on Teaching Greek to Sons.” Journal of Ancient Judaism 8 (2017): 365-387.

“Did Roman Treatment of Freedwomen Influence Rabbinic halakhah on the Status of Female Converts in Marriage?” The Journal of Legal History 40 (2019): 182-202.

“‘How Great Is Peace’: Tannaitic Thinking on Shalom and the Pax Romana.” Journal for the Study of Judaism 50 (2019): 223-251.

“‘A Proselyte whose Sons Converted with Him’: Roman Laws on New Citizens’ Authority over Their Children and Tannaitic Rulings on Converts to Judaism and Their Offspring.” Zion 84 (2019): 445–461.  [Hebrew]

“Alexander the Great in the Jerusalem Talmud and Genesis Rabbah: A Critique of Roman Power, Greed and Cruelty.” In Reconsidering Roman Power: Roman, Greek, Jewish and Christian Perceptions and Reactions. Edited by Katell Berthelot. Rome: Ecole Française de Rome, 2020.


Review of Steven Fine, Art, History and the Historiography of Judaism in Roman Antiquity, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2014).

Review of Stuart S. Miller, At the Intersection of Texts and Material Finds: Stepped Pools, Stone Vessels, and Ritual Purity among the Jews of Roman Galilee, Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies (JEMAHS) 6 (2018): 163-166. 


Last updated: 1 June 2020