Dr. J. H. Chajes - Brief Biography

J. H. (Yossi) Chajes (Ph.D., Yale University 1999) is Associate Professor in the Department of Jewish History at the University of Haifa and the director of its Center for the Study of Jewish Cultures. A former recipient of Fulbright, Rothchild, Wexner, and Hartman Fellowships, Chajes has also been a visiting professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, a fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem, and at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften of Goethe University Frankfurt. Chajes has been invited to the University of Pennsylvania’s Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies three times, and is currently the Maurice Amado Foundation Fellow for their 2017-18 year of research devoted to the topic Nature between Science and Religion: Jewish Culture and the Natural World.

Chajes’s book, Between Worlds: Dybbuks, Exorcists, and Early Modern Judaism (2003) was listed by the Wall Street Journal in 2013 as among the top five books ever written on spirit possession, alongside Aldous Huxley’s The Devils of Loudun. Chajes’s research interests include Kabbalah, early modern Jewish egodocuments, women’s religiosity, the history of Jewish attitudes towards magic, and the visualization of knowledge. Chajes currently directs the Israel Science Foundation-supported “Ilanot Project”—an ambitious and unprecedented attempt to catalogue and describe all kabbalistic cosmological diagrams. Chajes’s pioneering work has been awarded three Israel Science Foundation grants, as well as the Friedenberg Prize for the outstanding ISF-funded project in the humanities (2014). A considerable number of publications relating to the Ilanot Project are forthcoming. Some of Chajes’s publications may be found at https://haifa.academia.edu/JHChajes

Yossi’s recent contribution to the British Library’s online Hebrew manuscript exhibit:


For the buzz generated by this little article, see https://blogs.cul.columbia.edu/jewishstudiesatcul/2016/05/11/three-brother-manuscripts-identified-paris-london-and-new-york/

Yossi is married to Julie, is the father of five children (Ktoret, Levana, Yoel, Nehora, and Yishai), and lives with his family in Zichron Yaaqov, Israel.

For the brochure from Yossi’s recent month-long Hurvitz Scholar-in-Residence series in Houston, see


Yossi was also a student and accompanist of R. Shlomo Carlebach for many years, and has been invited by communities around the world to teach and to lead inspirational, musical services. Yossi was the founding Hazzan of London’s revolutionary Grassroots Jews High Holiday initiative, and has led Days of Awe services for Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Orthodox communities for over a decade. For recommendations from rabbis across the denominational spectrum, see http://research.haifa.ac.il/~chajes/chajes/haskamot.html.

Brief teaching for Grassroots Jews London newsletter