It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our esteemed faculty member, Rabbi Isaac Jerusalmi, Ph.D., age 89, on April 27, 2018. Dr. Jerusalmi was Professor Emeritus of Bible and Semitic Languages at our Cincinnati campus and an internationally renowned scholar in the field of Bible and Cognate Studies. Associated with HUC-JIR for over sixty years, Dr. Jerusalmi was a beloved teacher and mentor to generations of students.
Born in Kuzguncuk, Istanbul, Turkey, Dr. Jerusalmi was the descendant of several prominent rabbis of the Turkish Sephardic community. He graduated from the University of Istanbul with a major in Classics. Fluent in French, German, Turkish, Ladino, Classical Greek, and Latin, he decided to study in the Rabbinical School at HUC-JIR as a consequence of his correspondence with Dr. Julian Morgenstern, then President Emeritus of HUC-JIR, and he entered the program in 1952. He was the second person in the long history of the Turkish Sephardic community to take rabbinical training outside of that country. He was ordained at HUC-JIR in Cincinnati in 1956, and received his Ph.D. in Semitics at the Sorbonne in Paris, France. He returned to HUC-JIR in 1963 to join the faculty and teach in both the Rabbinical School and the Pines School of Graduates Studies, where his teaching specialties included Aramaic, Arabic, Syriac, and Hebrew.
A prolific author, Dr. Jerusalmi published 51 works in 141 publications in 7 languages and 2,815 library holdings. His volumes included Jewish Voice from Ottoman Salonica: the Ladino Memoir of Sa'adi Besalel a-Levi by Saʻadi ben Betsalel Haleṿi, the complete text of the earliest known Ladino-language memoir about daily Ottoman Jewish life in Salonica; The Aramaic sections of Ezra and Daniel, a philological commentary with frequent references to Talmudic Aramaic parallels; Maʻaśeh de-Yosef tsadiḳa: The story of Joseph (Genesis 37; 39-47), a philological commentary; The Song of Songs in the Targumic tradition, vocalized Aramaic text with facing English translation and Lad̲ino versions; Mile de-ʻEzra ve-Daniyel armayata, the Aramaic sections of Ezra and Daniel, a philological commentary with frequent references to Talmudic Aramaic parallels; From Ottoman Turkish to Lad̲ino: the case of Mehmet Sadık Rifat Pasha's Risâle-i ahlâk and Judge Yehezkel Gabbay's Buen dotrino, enlarged original texts in Ottoman Turkish and Rashi scripts, with face-to-face transliterations, glossaries and an introduction; Pirḳe Avot la-matḥil - Basic Pirqé Avoth: a philological commentary; The Talmud is in Aramaic, non-halakhic passages in Aramaic selected from the Babli, vocalized and explained; Sūrat Yūsuf ʻalayhi as-salām- The story of Joseph in the Qurʼān, a philological commentary; Reuven Eliyahu Yisrael's Traduksyon livre de las poezias Ebraikas de Rosh ha-Shana i Kippur 5670 and the Six Selihoth of the 5682 edition, text in Rashi characters and in transliteration; The Selihoth of the Sepharadim, Hebrew text and Ladino translation of the Vienna 1865 Alschech edition; Sephardic life in Cincinnati, 1906-1976; Selihot̲: sigun uzansa de K"K Sefarad̲im de Estanbol, el oryente i el oksidente i Italya, in Hebrew and Ladino; Ḳanun nami di Penas: leṭras di muesṭro siniyor il rey: sigun lo esḳriṭo si divi di afirmar 5620; Nise de-shalma bi-yama de-Talmuda: liḳuṭim be-ʼAramit min ha-Bavli; and many others.
Dr. Jerusalmi and his wife Nimet accompanied the HUC-JIR Board of Governors on a mission to Turkey, which was a personal journey into Sephardic Jewish history and culture.
Our heartfelt condolences to his wife Nimet Neama Jerusalmi, their children Stella and Rabbi Cy Stanway '87, Professor David Jerusalmi, Rabbi Dr. Hanna Garcia Yerushalmi '96 and Rabbi Ari Goldstein '97, and Peninna Jerusalmi, and grandchildren Abraham Isaac Stanway, Naomi Rebecca Stanway, SaraAnn Stanway, Sela Jerusalmi Goldstein, Nava Jerusalmi Goldstein, Sammy Jerusalmi Goldstein, Juda Jerusalmi Goldstein.
Donations in Dr. Jerusalmi’s memory may be made to the Klau Library at HUC-JIR, 3101 Clifton Avenue, Cincinnati, 45220-2488.
May the Jerusalmi family find comfort among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.