April 2017 , No.7 
Convert of the Month


Kalman (d. 1470), the cantor of Regensburg, was on the threshold of baptism.  On May 4th, 1470, the young Jew Kalman was arrested and questioned in Regensburg by Hans Ebran – a judge appointed by Duke Ludwig of Bavaria Landshut (situated on the Danube in South-East Germany), who held the legal rights over the largest Jewish community in late medieval Ashkenaz- that of  Regensburg. These are the details of the case, according to Kalman’s first and second confessions:
On Good Friday, Kalman the cantor and learned scholar of Regensburg went to a passion play outside the Church of Saint Peter in Regensburg dressed in Christian garb. He also went to hear the Vi-Bishop‘s sermon and dined with high-ranking municipal officials for the Easter feast, together with the monks of the Augustinian order. Kalman visited the homes of influential Christians in the city, dined with them and conversed with them as old friends regarding his Jewish past and his honest deliberations regarding baptism. When Kalman conversed with one of his Christian friends, he explained that it was difficult for him to choose the path of conversion, for, as he claimed: "Conversion is like a journey to a distant land, leaving all my friends and all my goods behind".
Kalman finally decided not to convert to Christianity and returned to the bosom of the Jews and to Judaism; however, several days later Kalman was arrested and was accused of being a renegade and spy for the Jewish community by Duke Ludwig of Bavaria Landshut. Kalman was never baptized and so could not have been tried as being a lapsed convert. Instead, he was accused of being sent by the Jewish community in order to study Christian theology and later write polemical books for the Jews. Moreover, Kalman was questioned about a request made to him by the rabbis of the Regensburg community, to bring them some of the Eucharist- the sacred bread, to this Kalman answered that they did ask him but he had forgotten to bring the bread with him when he returned to the Jewish quarter. Kalman was designated to write polemic writings based on his scholarly background in both religions. As he tried to balance his liminal position between Christianity and Judaism, he was perceived in the Jewish and Christian communities as an opportunity to confirm speculations about the competing religion and was questioned about secret passages, stolen saints and the powers of the Eucharist. Based on a chain of letters between the city of Regensburg and the Duke, records of receipts, and especially the 6-page confession of the almost Christian cantor, this unique case sheds light on the thirst for greater knowledge of the neighboring religion and the balance between power and religion. Understanding Kalman and the political and social world he acted in may help unravel some of the foundations of Jewish-Cristian relations on the threshold of Reformation in general and most specifically in Regensburg.  Jews had lived in Regensburg at least since the 11th century and Jewish-Christian relations were more or less stable in Regensburg throughout the Middle Ages. A turn in the attitude towards Jews in Regensburg began mainly in the second half of the 15th century due to numerous causes, as Raphael Strauss, Markus Wenniger, Ronnie Po-chia Hsia and others have noted. Kalman’s tragic end, sentenced to death by drowning in the river, on June 18th 1470, could be seen in my view as a first swallow announcing the beginning of the end of the Jewish community in Regensburg, expelled but 50 years later in 1519.

Ahuva Liberles Noiman


Events invitations


The launch event will be held on May 4th 2017 at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
In "A Historian in Exile", Jeremy Cohen shows how Solomon ibn Verga's Shevet Yehudah bridges the divide between the medieval and early modern periods, reflecting a contemporary consciousness that a new order had begun to replace the old.


Prof. Jean-Claude Schmitt, École des hautes études en sciences sociales [EHESS]:
"Revisiting and Discussing the Conversion of Hermann the Jew: Autobiography, History and Fiction"
The seminar will be held on May 9th 2017 at Bar Ilan University.


Public Lectures


A series of eight lectures (given by members of the Center, in Hebrew) will be held at The Museum of Islamic and Near Eastern Cultures, Beer Sheva, discussing various aspects of their research regarding calligraphy, words and documentation.
Each lecture will be followed by a guided tour featuring unique aspects of the exhibition or of an artist's workshop. Coordinated by Dr. Keren Abbou Hershkovits, member of The Center for the Study of Conversion and Inter-Religious Encounters.
The schedule of the full Hebrew program is appended to this newsletter.


Future Events




April 25, 2017
Dr. Lena Salaymeh
Tel Aviv University 


May 9, 2017
Prof. Jean-Claude Schmitt
(École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS 


June 6, 2017
Dr. Debra Kaplan
Bar-Ilan University


International Conference


CSOC- 5th Annual International Conference
 Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
May 22-25, 2017


Faculty Activities




Ahuva Liberles Noiman: 
“Almost a Christian: Uncertainties and Decisive Factors on theThreshold of Baptism in Late Medieval Regensburg", at: Juden und Christen in Bayern, Böhmen und Österreich (1349–1648), Tagung des Historischen Seminars der LMU München und des Historischen Instituts bei der Tschechischen Akademie der Wissenschaften Prag Thon-Dittmer-Palais, Regensburg, Germany, September 14, 2016.
"Forgetting Conversion in Late Medieval Ashkenaz", at: Describing Dynamics of Jewish Ritual Practices In  Pluralistic Contexts from Antiquity to the Present", Erfurt, Germany, October 28, 2016.
"'Like a Journey to a Distant Land'- Considering Conversion in Late Medieval Germany", at: 500 Years of Reformation: Jews and Protestants – Judaism and Protestantism, Annual International Conference of the Leo Baeck Institute, Jerusalem, February 14, 2017.
"Concepts of Localization in the Writings of Rabbi Yehuda heHasid", at: Sefer Hasidim in Context, National Library and Beit Belgia, Edmond J. Safra Campus, Givat Ram, Jerusalem, March 21, 2017. 


Alexander van der Haven:
"Predestination and Toleration: The Sole Persecution of Jews in the Dutch Republic in the Context of Calvinist Debates about Free Will", Leo Baeck Institute Jerusalem for the Study of German and Central European Jewry. 500 Years of Reformation. Jews and Protestants – Judaism and Protestantism, February 2017.


Amir Ashur: 
"Maimonidean and Maimonidean-related Documents from the Genizah - New Discoveries and Future Plans", From Fustat To Haifa: an International Research Workshop of the Israel Science Foundation Celebrating 120 Years of Genizah Research, University of Haifa, May 15th-18th 2017.


Avraham Yoskovich: 
“Oral and Written Torah (Jewish Law): Reality and Ideology”, Lecture at the Islamic Museum in Beer Shebba, February 2017. (Hebrew)
"En Ata O'med Be-Meimecha' (You Don't Stand in your Water) - The Meaning of an Enigmatic Phrase,” Bar Ilan 1st Workshop for Early Career Researchers of Talmud and Halacha Studies, March 2017.


Daniel J. Lasker:
“Jewish Anti-Christian Polemical Treatises in Early Modern Eastern Europe: Where are They?” Third International Conference on Christian Hebraism in Eastern and Central Europe, Wroclaw, April 28, 2017.
“Concerning Translations of and Commentaries to The Book of Kuzari of Rabbi Judah Halevi,” Study Day in Honor of the Publication of Michael Schwarz z”l’s New Translation of The Book of Kuzari, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, May 3, 2017. (Hebrew)


Dennis Halft:
Ismāʿīl Qazvīnī: A 12th/18th-Century Jewish Convert to Imāmī Shīʿism and His Critique of Ibn Ezra’s Commentary on the Four Kingdoms (Daniel 2:31-45)/. Paper presented at the Persianate Forum, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel, March 15, 2017.

A Shiite Muslim Controversy about the Purity of Wine. Paper presented at the Friedberg Genizah Workshop “Theologians in a Jurist’s Robe: Relations between Theology and Law in the Judaeo-Islamic Milieu,” University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada, March 21, 2017.


Ehud Krinis: 
“The Scientific-Philosophical and Apocalyptic-Messianic Traditions”. Seminar at the Shalem College in Jerusalem, November 2016.

“Interpreting Judah Halevi’s Kuzari: Leo Strauss, Shlomo Pines and Beyond”. International Conference “Philosophy and Law: Islamic and Jewish Thought between the Poles of Theocracy and Theology”. 
Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, February 2017. 


Keren Abbou Hershkovits:
“Man, Woman, Faith: Female Activism in light of Conversion in Early Islam”, The Annual Conference of Gender Programs in Israel. Tel-Aviv University, March, 2017.
“Canonization and Conceptions of Scientific Knowledge”, Friedberg Geniza Workshop: Theologians in a Jurists Robes: Relations between Theology and Law in Judeao-Islamic Milieu", University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada, March 21 2017.
“Healing words, Omens and Talisman”, at the Museum of Islam and Eastern Cultures in Beer Sheva, April 2017. (Hebrew)


Pnina Arad: 
“Conversion of Space and Cultural Memory: The All-Saints’ Church in Wittenberg,” in: Art and Cult, Conference organized by Imago: Israeli Association for Visual Culture in the Middle Ages, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, March 16, 2017. (Hebrew)

(together with Katrin Kogman-Appel), “The World and the Holy Land in Medieval Maps,” in: Graduate Interdisciplinary Seminar, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, March 26, 2017. (Hebrew)


Yossi Yisraeli:
Joseph Albo's Sefer ha'Ikkarim: Between Polemics and a Judeo-converso Creed. Hispania
Judaica, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, March 27, 2017. (Hebrew)


New Publications


Ayelet Harel-Shalev:
"Gendering ethnic conflicts: Minority women in divided societies – The Case of Muslim Women in India", Ethnic and Racial Studies, 40(12) (2017), Online first view in:


Daniel J. Lasker :  
“The History of a Karaite Rabbi in Eastern Europe”, in:
“Introduction” to R. Judah Halevi, The Book of Kuzari, trans. Michael Schwarz, Beer-Sheva, 2017, pp. xi-xxix.

(With Joseph Yahalom) “Judah ha-Levi,” Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception, vol. 14, Berlin/Boston, 2017, pp. 893-898.
“The Connection between Love of God and Sanctification of the Name in Medieval Jewish Philosophy,” in Yosef Y. Tobi, et al., eds., Yuvalei Ahavah. Qovetz Zikaron le-Yuval Heiman HY”D, Jerusalem, 2017, pp. 109-114. (Hebrew)


Dennis Halft:
“The ‘Book of Books’ in Persian,” in: M. Pehlivanian, Ch. Rauch, and R. Vollandt, eds, Oriental Bible Manuscripts from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – PK: An Illustrated History, Wiesbaden: Reichert, 2016, 150-154.

“A Persian Gospel Manuscript and the London Polyglot,” in: M. Pehlivanian, Ch. Rauch, and R. Vollandt, eds, Oriental Bible Manuscripts from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – PK: An Illustrated History, Wiesbaden: Reichert, 2016, 155-157.

“Towards a New Perception of Islam: The Influence of Marie-Dominique Chenu’s Theology of Incarnation on Christian-Muslim Relations,” in: M. Attridge, D. Dias, M. Eaton, and N. Olkovich, eds, The Promise of Renewal: Dominicans and Vatican II, Adelaide: ATF Theology, 2017, 225-239.


Keren Abbou Hershkovits:

“Kinship, Expectations and God”, forthcoming in HAWWA. 


Pnina Arad:
“Frederick III’s Holy Land Installation in Wittenberg during the Cultural Transition of the Reformation,” Viator: Medieval and Renaissance Studies 48.1 (2017). 


Yaniv Fox:
Co-editor with Yossi Israeli: Contesting Inter-Religious Conversion in the Medieval World. London: Routledge, 2017.


Yossi Yisraeli:
Were God’s People Destined to be Ruled by a Mortal King? A Judeo-Converso-Christian Tradition,"Journal
of Levantine Studies
. 6 (2016): 13-33

Co-editor with Yaniv Fox: Contesting Inter-Religious Conversion in the Medieval World. London: Routledge, 2017.