Raphael Patai 1910-1996
The Raphael Patai Memorial Lectureship Series is an annual endowed lecture honoring the late Rabbi Raphael Patai. Raphael Patai, a prominent cultural anthropologist, historian, and Jewish Studies scholar, wrote over three-dozen books in his lifetime. One of his books, The Hebrew Goddess, presented a thesis about the role of a goddess in ancient Israelite religion that was regarded as radical, even heretical when it was published in 1967. In the early 1970’s, however, archaeological discoveries vindicated his seemingly radical thesis.
Raphael Patai drew on both his research and his personal experience to produce the controversial classic, The Arab Mind, which is widely regarded as indispensable to those trying to understand the roots of some of the major political conflicts of our time. This book also has its critics, and these are generally unaware of what may be regarded as a “companion volume,” The Myth of the Jewish Race, co-written with his daughter Jennifer Schneider.
Upon his death in July 1996, Patai was memorialized in the Jerusalem Report as a “prolific cultural anthropologist and Jewish and Mideast Studies scholar.” The subjects of his books ranged widely from Jewish history, Biblical Studies, family life in the ancient and modern Middle East, Jewish alchemy, a history of the Hungarian Jews, and Jewish seafaring.
Raphael Patai died in 1996 at the age of 85.
The Raphael Patai Lecture is made possible by the generosity of his daughters Jennifer Schneider & Daphne Patai and by Simone Boy.