Tributes paid to Orthodox educator and expert on Chasidism, who dies aged 75

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Tributes paid to Orthodox educator and expert on Chasidism, who dies aged 75

Ada Rapoport-Albert was known for having developed the world-leading Hebrew and Jewish Studies Department at University College London after a career lecturing around the world

Ada Rapoport-Albert
Ada Rapoport-Albert

Tributes have been paid to the well-loved Orthodox educator and historian Professor Ada Rapoport-Albert after she died in London this week aged 75.

Rapoport-Albert, who had both British and Israeli citizenship, developed the Hebrew and Jewish Studies Department at University College London (UCL), and specialised in the Chasidic movement, which began in Poland in the 18th century.

Her other interests included gender issues in the history of Judaism, as well as the linguistic and literary context of the Zohar, the most influential literary product of the Jewish mystical tradition.

“Ada worked assiduously to build up the department and developed it into one of the foremost in this country,” said Professor Emeritus Colin Shindler, speaking to Jewish News on Friday, following news of his peer’s death.

“She always worked hard for her students and her colleagues. Her insights into the life and times of the false messiah, Shabtai Zevi, were a real contribution to our understanding of the origins and evolution of the Chasidic movement.

“As a visiting examiner and supervisor to UCL, she always welcomed me with grace and kindness. She will live on through her exceptional contribution to academic Jewish Studies.”

Rapoport-Albert, who was born in Israel, lectured all over the world. Before setting up at UCL she taught at Oxford University, and held visiting professorships are esteemed US institutions such as Harvard and Stanford.

In later years she waded into the debate around antisemitism in the Labour Party, describing as “absolutely absurd” claims that former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was himself antisemitic.

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