Matthias Lehmann

picture of Matthias  Lehmann

Professor and Teller Family Chair in Jewish History, History
School of Humanities

Director, Center for Jewish Studies
School of Humanities

Ph.D., Freie Universität Berlin, 2002

Phone: History Department: (949) 824-6521
Fax: (949) 824-2865

University of California, Irvine
Department of History
200 Murray Krieger Hall
Mail Code: 3275
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
Modern Jewish history, Sephardic studies
Research Abstract
I am an historian of modern European and Mediterranean Jewish history at the University of California, Irvine. An elected member of the American Academy of Jewish Research, I am also co-editor of the journal Jewish Social Studies, and author of several books.

My most recent book is The Baron: Maurice de Hirsch and the Jewish Nineteenth Century (Stanford University Press, forthcoming 2022), a biography of Maurice de Hirsch (1831-1896), banker, railroad entrepreneur, and one of the most prominent Jewish philanthropists of the modern era. The book offers a new, trans-national perspective on the Jewish nineteenth century by exploring the life of Baron Hirsch - born in Munich, builder of Ottoman railroads, a citizen of Austria, resident of Paris, and founder of the Jewish Colonization Association and its colonization project in Argentina in the 1890s.

Previously, I wrote Emissaries from the Holy Land (Stanford University Press, 2014), which tells the story of a philanthropic network that was overseen by the Jewish community leadership in the Ottoman capital Istanbul between the 1720s and the 1820s, in support of the impoverished Jews of Palestine. The book explores how this eighteenth century philanthropic network was organized and how relations of trust and solidarity were built across vast geographic distances. It looks at how the emissaries and their supporters understood the relationship between the Jewish Diaspora and the Land of Israel, and it shows how cross-cultural encounters and competing claims for financial support involving Sephardic, Ashkenazi, and North African emissaries and communities contributed to the transformation of Jewish identities in the eighteenth century.

Other publications include Ladino Rabbinic Literature and Ottoman Sephardic Culture (Indiana University Press, 2005); The Jews: A History (Routledge, third edition, 2019), written together with John Efron and Steven Weitzman; and Jews and the Mediterranean (Indiana University Press, 2020), edited with Jessica Marglin.

I studied at the universities of Freiburg, Berlin, and Jerusalem, and did my graduate work at Freie Universität Berlin and the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas in Madrid. I am teaching courses on modern European and Mediterranean Jewish history and the history of antisemitism, and I accept applications from prospective graduate students who wish to work in these fields.

The Baron: Maurice de Hirsch and the Jewish Nineteenth Century. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2022.

Editor, with Jessica Marglin, Jews and the Mediterranean. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2020.

Co-author, with John Efron, and Steven Weitzman, The Jews: A History. New York and London: Routledge, third edition, 2019.

Emissaries from the Holy Land: The Sephardic Diaspora and the Practice of Pan-Judaism in the Eighteenth Century. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2014.

Ladino Rabbinic Literature and Ottoman Sephardic Culture, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005.

“Rethinking Sephardic Secularism: Social Conflict and Anticlericalism in El Correo de Viena,” El Prezente: Journal for Sephardic Studies, forthcoming.

“Baron Hirsch, the Jewish Colonization Association, and the Future of the Jews,” Jewish Studies Quarterly 27 (2020), 73-102.

“‘A New Book in Jewish Affairs Begins’: Maurice de Hirsch and the Waning Power of Jewish Philanthropy at the Fin-de-Siècle,” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 17 (2018), 472-486.

“La Puerta de la Franquía: Livorno and Pan-Jewish Networks of Beneficence in the Eighteenth Century,” in: Italian Jewish Networks from the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Century, ed. Francesca Bregoli, Carlotta Ferrara degli Uberti and Guri Schwarz (New York: Palgrave, 2018), 39-57.

“Networks of Patronage and the Birth of Two Ladino Newspapers,” in: Sepharad as Imagined Community, ed. Mahir Saul and José Ignacio Hualde (New York: Peter Lang, 2017), 133-146.

“Rabbinic Emissaries from Palestine and the Making of a Modern Jewish Diaspora: A Philanthropic Network in the Eighteenth Century,” in: Envisioning Judaism: Studies in Honor of Peter Schäfer on the Occasion of his Seventieth Birthday, ed. Ra'anan Boustan, Klaus Hermann, Reimund Leicht, Annette Yoshiko Reed, and Giuseppe Veltri, with the collaboration of Alex Ramos (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013), vol. 2, 1228-1246.

“Jewish Nationalism in Ladino: Jacob Moshe Hay Altarats’ Zikhron yerushalayim,” Jewish Studies Quarterly 17:2 (2010), 146-159.

"Rethinking Sephardi Identity: Jews and Other Jews in Ottoman Palestine," Jewish Social Studies, 15, no. 1 (2008), 81-109.

"Levantinos and Other Jews: Reading H.Y.D. Azulai's Travel Diary," Jewish Social Studies, 13, no. 3 (2007), 1-34.

"A Livornese 'Port Jew' and the Sephardim of the Ottoman Empire." Jewish Social Studies 11, no. 2 (2005): 51-76.
Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fellowship, University of Munich (2010-2011)
Fulbright research fellowship, Tel Aviv University (2016)
Professional Society
Fellow of the American Academy of Jewish Research
Last updated