Jewish Storytelling Coalition

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Peninnah informs us today that Professor Haya Bar-Itzhak has died. She had been a protege of Dov Noy - and following his tenure at the IFA, she became its Director for about 25 years. She is also the co-author of "The Power of a Tale". May her name be a blessing! Read below for details. 

Passing of Prof. Haya Bar-Itzhak


Discussion published by Shalom Berger on Wednesday, October 28, 2020

H-Judaic is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Prof. Haya Bar-Itzhak (1946-2020), an eminent folklorist and  emeritus chair of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of Haifa.  
Shulamith Z. Berger kindly passed along this news along with the following necrology prepared by Simon Bronner:

It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that eminent folklorist Haya Bar-Itzhak died October 25 at her home in Haifa, Israel. She was born in Berlin, Germany, on August 17, 1946 to Polish Holocaust survivors. After emigration to Israel, she received her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Haifa and finished her Ph.D. in 1987 at Hebrew University of Jerusalem with a dissertation on "The 'Saints' Legend' as a Genre in Jewish Folk Literature" under the supervision of Professor Dov Noy. She returned to the University of Haifa as a professor and in 1992, became chair of the Department of Hebrew and Comparative Literature and in 1994, head of folklore studies and  the Israel Folktale Archives. She also held visiting professorships at Indiana University, University of Michigan, Penn State University, University of Pennsylvania, and the University of California, Berkeley. In addition, she was a fellow of the Simon Dubnow Institute in Leipzig.


Her research and publications in English and Hebrew earned her renown globally for work in Jewish folk narrative, history of ethnography in Israel and Europe, ethnopoetics, and women's folklore. Her authored books in English include Jewish Poland--Legends of Origin (Wayne State University Press, 2001), Israeli Folk Narratives: Settlement, Immigration, Ethnicity (Wayne State University, 2005), and with Aliza Shenhar, Jewish Moroccan Folk Narratives from Israel (Wayne State University Press, 1993). Her edited books include Encyclopedia of Jewish Folklore and Traditions, 2 vols. (M.E. Sharpe, 2013), Pioneers of Jewish Ethnography and Folkloristics in Eastern Europe (Scientific Research Center of the Academy of Science and Arts, 2010), and with Idit Pintel-Ginsberg, The Power of A Tale (Wayne State University Press, 2019). In Hebrew, she edited Folklore and Ideology: Studies Dedicated to Prof. Aliza Shenhar (University of Haifa, 2014), Legends of Poland: Ethnopoetics and Legendary Chronicles (Sifriyat Poalim, 1996), and with Aliza Shenhar, Folktales from Beth-She'an (University of Haifa, 1981). She also was the editor of the journals Chuliyot: Journal of Yiddish Culture and Dappim: Journal of Literary Research. She served on the editorial boards of the Jewish Cultural Studies book series (Littman Library of Jewish Civilization), Raphael Patai Series on Folklore and Anthropology (Wayne State University Press), Cultural Analysis, Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Folklore, and the Jewish Folklore and Ethnology Review.


Among her honors is selection as an International Fellow of the American Folklore Society, Lerner Foundation for Yiddish Culture Award, and National Jewish Book Award (for Jewish Poland--Legends of Origin). In 2020, her students, colleagues, and admirers presented her with a bilingual festschrift in her honor Masoret Haya, edited by Tsafi Sebba-Elran, Haya Milo, and Idit Pintel-Ginsberg (Pardes Publishing, 2020).

We extend deepest condolences to Prof. Bar-Itzhak's family, colleagues, and students.

Jonathan D. Sarna
Chair, H-Judaic