Gil Ribak | The Arizona Center for Judaic Studies

Gil Ribak

About Gil Ribak


I am an Associate Professor at the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies. In 2021-2022, I served as the European Union’s Marie S. Curie Senior Fellow at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS), Albert-Ludwig’s University, Freiburg, Germany.


Born and raised in Israel, I came to the U.S. on a Fulbright dissertator fellowship, and completed my Ph.D in History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Afterward I served as the Lewin Postdoctoral Fellow at Washington University in St. Louis, and as the Schusterman Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Arizona. Later I served as the Director of the Institute on American Jewish-Israeli Relations at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles and taught at Oberlin College, before returning to the University of Arizona on a tenure-track position.


I am a scholar of Modern Jewish history, who focuses on the varied ways Jews perceived their non-Jewish surroundings, and how those perceptions affected their interactions with non-Jews, especially in the context of immigration and transnational history. While there are many studies of antisemitism, my research reverses the question and examines how the Jewish minority viewed the majority, as well as various ethnic and racial groups within that majority. My scholarship has always been interdisciplinary in nature, bringing together history, sociology, folklore, ethnic studies, and literature. My scholarly interests and expertise span various fields of Jewish history – American Jewish history, Yiddish Culture, Eastern European Jewish history, and histories of Modern Israel. 



Selected Publications


The book Gentile New York: The Images of Non-Jews among Jewish Immigrants:



Refereed Journal Articles:

“The Organ of the Jewish People: The Yidishes Tageblat and Uncharted Conservative Yiddish Culture in America”, Jewish Quarterly Review 112 (Fall 2022): 795-822.


“Israelis Are from Mars, American Jews Are from Venus? Cultural Differences and Rivalry in American Jewish Attitudes toward Israel”, Israelis: A Multidisciplinary Bilingual Periodical for the Study of Israel & Zionism 10, special issue about Israel and the Jewish World (2021): 209-236.


“Reportage from Blotetown: Yisroel-Yoysef Zevin (Tashrak) and the Shtetlization of New York City”, East European Jewish Affairs 50 (Fall 2020): 209-236.


“’Negroes Must Not Be Likened to Jews’: The Attitudes of Eastern European Jewish Immigrants toward African Americans in a Transnational Perspective”, Modern Judaism 37 (October 2017): 271-296.


“’For Peace, Not Socialism’: The 1917 Mayoralty Campaign in New York City and Immigrant Jews in a Global Perspective”, American Jewish History 101 (Fall 2017): 465-488.


“Between Germany and Russia: Images of Poles and the Ensuing Cultural Trajectories among Yiddish and Hebrew Writers between 1863 and World War I”, Polin: A Journal of Polish-Jewish Studies 28 (December 2015): 225-248.


“’The Jew Usually Left Those Crimes to Esau’: The Jewish Responses to Accusations about Jewish Criminality in New York, 1908-1913”, AJS Review 38 (April 2014): 1-28.


“’Beaten to Death by Irish Murderers’: The Death of Sadie Dellon (1918) and Jewish Images of the Irish”, Journal of American Ethnic History 32 (Summer 2013): 41-74.


“A Jew for All Seasons: Henry Kissinger, Jewish Expectations, and the Yom Kippur War”, Israel Studies Forum 25 (Fall 2010): 1-25.


“’They Are Slitting the Throats of Jewish Children’: The 1906 New York School Riot and Contending Images of Gentiles”, American Jewish History 94 (Sep. 2008): 175-196.


Book Chapters:

“’Cleanliness Like That of the Germans’: Eastern European Jews’ Views of Germans and the Dynamics of Migration and Disillusionment”, in Steven J. Gold (ed.), Wandering Jews: Global Jewish Migration (West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2020), 119-150.


“’There Was No Uncor­rupt Israel’: The Role of Israelis in Delegitimizing Jewish Collective Existence”, in Alvin H. Rosenfeld (ed.), Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, and the Dynamics of Delegitimization (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2019), 255-280 (ref.).


“’The Shkotsim Were Even Worse than the Dogs’: Yiddish Memoirists and the Reimagining of the Eastern European Jewish Experience in Postwar America”, in Sheila Elana Jelen and Eliyana Adler (eds.), Absorbing Encounters: Constructing American Jewry in the Post-Holocaust Decades (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, forthcoming, 2017).


“’You Can’t Recognize America’: American Jewish Perceptions of Antisemitism as a Transnational Phenomenon after World War I”, in Christian Wiese and Cornelia Wilhelm (eds.), American Jewry: Transcending the European Experience? (London: Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2017), 281-304.


“’There Was No Uncor­rupt Israel’: The Role of Israelis in Delegitimizing Jewish Collective Existence”, in Alvin H. Rosenfeld (ed.), Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, and the Dynamics of Delegitimization (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, forthcoming 2017).


“Getting Drunk, Dancing, and Beating Each Other Up: The Images of the Gentile Poor and Narratives of Jewish Difference among the Yiddish Intelligentsia, 1881-1914”, in Leonard J. Greenspoon (ed.), Wealth and Poverty in Jewish Tradition: Studies in Jewish Civilization, Volume 26 (West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2015), 203-224.


“’A Victory of the Slavs Means a Deathblow to Democracy’: The Onset of World War I and the Images of the Warring Sides among Jewish Immigrants in New York, 1914-1916”, in Yigal Levin and Amnon Shapira (eds.), War and Peace in Jewish Tradition: From the Ancient World to the Present (Oxford, UK: Routledge, 2012), 203-217.


“German-Jewish Migration to the United States” (with Adi Gordon), in Thomas Adam (ed.), Germany and the Americas: Culture, Politics and History (Santa Barbara, CA and Oxford, UK: ABC-Clio, 2005), 13-22. I also wrote two biographical entries about Jacob Schiff and Isaac Leeser in that volume.



Other Publications:

I translated from the Yiddish a short feuilleton by Yisroel-Yoysef Zevin, “Against Your Will You’re a Jew” (1909), published in East European Jewish Affairs 50 (Fall 2020): 75-77.

“Drunkards Lying on the Floor: Jewish Contempt for Non-Jewish Lower Classes”, AJS Perspectives: The Hate Issue (Spring 2020): 46-47.


“’Mexicans Are Just Like Every Oriental People’: The Southwest in Sholem Asch’s Yiddish Writing”, in Legacy: Newsletter of the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society 32 (Spring 2018): 1, 4-5.


“Helpless Refugees or the Seed of Amalek: A Cautionary Note about the Use of Judaism as a Means to Justify Various Political Agendas”, CrossCurrents 67(3) (September 2017): 555-564.

The entry “Gentiles in Modern Judaism”, in Dale C. Allison Jr. (ed. et al), Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2015), 10: 36-38.


“Toldot ha-mechaber” (biography), in Pinchas Giller (ed.), Moshe Ha-Cohen Reicherson, Be’er Moshe (Los Angeles: Fryd, 2015, Hebrew), 9-13.


I had a blog in the Times of Israel


“Never Say Never” was published in the Israeli daily newspaper Ma’ariv, March 25, 2012 (Hebrew).


“’Earning Like Episcopalians, Voting Like Puerto-Ricans’: Why American Jews Voted for Obama” (with Arnon Gutfeld), Kivunim Chadashim 20 (July-August 2009, Hebrew): 28-49.


“’New’ Historians, the Holocaust, and the Critique of Israeli Society”, Midstream 49 (April 2003): 29-32.


“’Inside Babylon’: The Character of the American New Left”, Zemanim 64 (Fall 1998, Hebrew): 44-54.




Courses Taught in the Past

  • Introduction to American Jewish History
  • The Emergence of Modern Jewish Politics, 1848-1948
  • Introduction to Jewish Civilization
  • Jewish-Gentile Relations in Urban America
  • Neighbors and Strangers: Jewish-Blacks Relations in the United States
  • Introduction to Yiddish Culture
  • Modern Jewish Philosophy
  • Modern Israel
  • U.S. History From the Civil War to the Present


Gil Ribak's picture

Contact Information

Gil Ribak
Ph.D., Associate Professor, Judaic Studies
Telephone: Main Office (520) 626-5758
Fax: (520) 626-5767

Courses Taught

322 "Modern Jewish Thought"
325 "Jewish Philosophy"
370A "History of the Jews: Modern Jewish History"
377 "Modern Israel"