Israel Prize to be awarded to Prof. Chava Turniansky for her work on Jewish language and literature

Cover of ‘Yiddish Literature in the Nineteenth Century: An Anthology of Yiddish Literary Research and Criticism in the Soviet Union’, edited by Prof. Turniansky (publisher: The Hebrew University Magnes Press Ltd.)

January 31, 2013: Israel’s Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar has announced that Prof. Chava Turniansky from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem will receive the 2013 Israel Prize. Prof. Turniansky, the Spitz Professor Emeritus of Jewish Studies (Yiddish) in the university’s Department of Yiddish, will receive the award for her work on the Jewish language and literature.

The award committee noted that “Chava Turniansky is one of the greatest scholars of Yiddish today. Her research encompasses the history of Yiddish language and literature throughout different time periods and geographical areas where Yiddish was the language of Ashkenazi Jewish communities. Her multi-disciplinary research deals with the historical, linguistic and cultural aspects of the bilingual reality that pertained in the Jewish Diaspora from antiquity to modern times.''

The award will be presented at an Israel Independence Day ceremony in April attended by Israel's president, prime minister, Supreme Court president and other national leaders. Established in 1953, the Israel Prize is considered Israel’s highest honor and is awarded to Israeli citizens or organizations that have displayed excellence in their field or contributed significantly to Israeli culture.

Prof. Turniansky was born in Mexico in 1937 and immigrated to Israel in 1957. Her extensive studies included undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees from the Hebrew University, culminating in a PhD in Yiddish Literature, with a doctoral dissertation on bilingual (Hebrew and Yiddish) literature in Ashkenaz in the early modern period.

For the past 50 years Prof. Turniansky has been affiliated with the Hebrew University's Department of Yiddish, and she served for many years as the head of department. A widely published author, her writing sheds light on many diverse aspects of Ashkenazi life, literature and culture, including literacy and transmission of knowledge, education and instruction of males and females, book production, and women readers and writers.

Prof. Turniansky has been a visiting lecturer at universities in Mexico, Italy, the United Kingdom and United States. Her outstanding research work has earned her the Emma Schaver Prize, the Itzik Manger Prize and, in 2006, the Bialik Prize in Jewish Studies and Literature. In 2007 she was named a Member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

Prof. Turniansky will be the 272nd Hebrew University faculty members or graduate to win the Israel Prize.

Source: Dept. of Media Relations, Hebrew University