The Song of the Distant Dove

New Book Illuminates Pilgrimage of Beloved Hebrew Poet

Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
Office: (212) 678-8950

October 31, 2007, New York, NY

Dr. Raymond Scheindlin

Judah Halevi (ca 1085-1141), one of the best-known and most beloved of pre-modern Hebrew poets, abandoned his home and family in Spain and spent the last year of his life traveling to the Land of Israel, where he hoped to die amid its sacred ruins.

In his new book, The Song of the Distant Dove: Judah Halevi's Pilgrimage (Oxford University Press, November 2007), Dr. Raymond Scheindlin tells the story of Halevi’s journey using recently discovered letters of the age and his ever-popular poetry. In this, the only English-language book on the subject, Dr. Scheindlin explores the inner meaning of the Halevi’s work through discussions of his stirring poetry, presented in new verse translations with full commentary.

Touching on literature, religion, and history, the book provides a thorough introduction to Judeo-Arabic culture as well as a close look at a commanding personality of the age—a doctor, theologian, communal leader, and, above all, a poet—and at one of the best-documented episodes in medieval Jewish religious history.

Professor of Medieval Hebrew Literature at The Jewish Theological Seminary and director of JTS's Shalom Spiegel Institute of Medieval Hebrew Poetry, Dr. Scheindlin has been on the JTS faculty since 1974 and served as provost from 1984 to 1988.

Dr. Scheindlin teaches and conducts research on the encounter of Hebrew and Arabic cultures in Spain, especially as embodied in the poetry of the two traditions. An expert on Arabic literature, his book, 201 Arabic Verbs, used by nearly every student of Arabic in the United States, is appearing in a new edition titled 501 Arabic Verbs. "High Holiday Memoir," an autobiographical sketch, has just appeared in the journal Kerem: Literary Explorations of Judaism. In addition, a Festschrift in his honor, Studies in Arabic and Hebrew Letters in Honor of Raymond P. Scheindlin, has just been published by Gorgias Press, edited by two of his former students.

Dr. Scheindlin was a 2005-2006 Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library, and a visiting professor at Harvard University in the spring of 2007. The recipient of the 2004 Cultural Achievement Award of the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, and a former Guggenheim fellow, he served for three years as the part-time rabbi of the Kane Street Synagogue in Brooklyn. He is a fellow and a member of many societies and editorial boards. Dr. Scheindlin received a BA in Oriental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, a MHL and rabbinic ordination from JTS, and a PhD from Columbia University.

Reporters/Editors: To schedule an interview with Dr. Scheindlin, please contact Sherry S. Kirschenbaum in the Department of Communications at (212) 678-8953.

Founded in 1886 as a rabbinical school, The Jewish Theological Seminary today is the academic and spiritual center of Conservative Judaism worldwide, encompassing a world-class library and five schools. JTS trains tomorrow's religious, educational, academic, and lay leaders for the Jewish community and beyond.