Simon Dubnow Institute
for Jewish History and Culture at Leipzig University

Project »A New History of Hasidism«

Hellbraunes Buchcover, das an ein altes Buch erinnert, bibliografische Angaben in dunkelbrauner Schrift. In der Mitte schwarz-weiß Fotografie zweier Personen: ein älterer Mann mit langem weißen Bart fasst einem jüngeren Mann ans Kinn. Beide schauen in vertrauter Atmosphäre in ein Buch, auf das der Junge seiner Finger gelegt hat. Beide tragen einen großen Hut, Hemd und Mäntel.

In 1931 Simon Dubnow's classic two-volume study Toldot Chasidut appeared in a German translation, Geschichte des Chassidismus (Berlin: Jüdischer Verlag). It remained for a long time the sole comprehensive work on this religious movement that arose in the mid-eighteenth century in Eastern Europe.


An international group of researchers started their work on a New History of Hasidism in 2011. The research team aimed at writing a new and first truly comprehensive history of the movement as a whole, going beyond the time frame of Simon Dubnow's study, which utilized source materials down to 1815 as a cutoff point. It was comprised of experienced senior and younger historians from Poland, Israel, Great Britain and the United States.


The project, funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, included four research stays for the participating scholars between two weeks up to one month in order to deepen international scientific cooperation. In the summertime 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, these research stays at the DI assisted the research team in essential work and writing on the multi-volume study of Hasidism that was projected. Not only was the corpus of source materials so large that it could only be properly dealt with by a research collective; the material is also scattered in many localities, and is written in four languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish and Russian.


At the end of 2017, the new history of Hasidism compiled by David Assaf, David Biale, Benjamin Brown, Uri Gellman, Samuel C. Heilman, Moshe Rosman, Gadi Sagiv, and Martin Wodzinski has now been published:


Hasidism, A New History. With an afterword by Arthur Green, Princeton, N. J./Oxford: Princeton University Press 2018.

Team Members

David Assaf, Tel Aviv University 

David Biale (Projektleiter), University of California, Davis

Benjamin Brown, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Uriel Gellman, Tel Aviv University

Samuel Heilman, Queens College, New York

Elly Moseson, Boston University

Ada Rapoport-Albert, University College, London

Moshe Rosman, Bar-Ilan University

Gadi Sagiv, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem 

Marcin Wodzinski, Wroclaw University