Dr. Almog Behar is currently a Polonsky postdoctoral fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. Behar gained his PhD in Literature at Tel Aviv University (2015), and received his MA in Hebrew Literature from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
His PhD dissertation, “From the Late Liturgical Jewish Poetry to the Mizrahi Literature in the 20th Century: Toward a Genealogy of Mizrahi Literature in Israel,” explores the writing of piyyut (liturgical Jewish poetry) in the Muslim world in the 20th century, and the connections of new Mizrahi literature in Israel to the traditions of piyyut. As a Polonsky fellow, his research – “Between Hebrew and Arabic in the literature of the Jews of the Arab world in the twentieth century” – will map the relationship between Hebrew and Arabic in the writing of authors from the Jewish communities in the Arab world during the twentieth century, who wrote either in Hebrew (rabbinical or Israeli) or in Arabic (Judeo-Arabic or literary Arabic). Central to his work is an examination of the various options this writing suggests poetically, linguistically and in terms of identity. He will explore how the transitions between languages are connected to questions of religiosity, secularization and Orientalism, migration, exile and nationalism, and to attempted formulations of national, ethnic, class and gender identities. Poetry, piyyut, and literary fiction will be at the core of this examination, as well as memoirs, translations between Hebrew and Arabic and anthologies of oral stories, poems and proverbs.
Almog Behar has taught at the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University (Fall 2013), at the Department of Literature at Tel Aviv University (2008-09), and at the Department of Jewish Literature at Bar-Ilan University (2007-08). He now teaches at the Sapir College, Sderot, and at the David Yellin Teachers College, Jerusalem.