Noam Zadoff

Assistant Professor, Department of History

Department of History

IU; IU Bloomington

Full Biography

In my research I am interested in the ways emotions serve as a motivating factor in the decisions that individuals and collectives take throughout history. In the history of Israel and the Near East, they play a central role in building a self-understanding or the image of the enemy. Analyzing textual representations and expressions of emotions, I am interested in the process in which collective and private emotions crystallize and transform through intellectuals into (calls for) action.

In my last book, I examined the journey of the religious studies scholar Gershom Scholem (1897-1982) from Berlin to Jerusalem and back to Germany. Being a Zionist, Scholem immigrated to Palestine in 1923 to discover that his Zionist Utopia could not be fulfilled in the way he expected. His disillusionment with his Zionist dream and the despair he experienced in Palestine during the years of the Holocaust brought him to gradually return to the post-1945 German-speaking intellectual world. In post-war Germany he played the role of a father figure and a moral authority for a younger generation of intellectuals who could not trust their own father generation. For Scholem, the return to Germany reflected his own disillusionment with the State of Israel and its political direction.

My recent research deals with the impact of the Six-Day War on Israel from 1967 down to today. At the center of my research stands the question of the relationship between Land and People in Israel/Palestine after 1967. Many Jewish intellectuals regarded the Six-Day War as a turning point. For many Israelis, the Zionist utopia was revived through the victory and the unexpected occupation of new territories, while others warned about the dangers to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state in the wake of the War. This project aims to analyze different reactions of intellectuals to the occupation of the territories in the Six-Day War. Another central aspect in my research is in the field of environmental history. The Land of Israel/Palestine is one geographical region, in which Israelis and Arabs share the same natural resources and ecological system. My research analyzes the idea of sustainability in Israel after 1967, especially in relation to the notion of environmental justice and the changing attitudes within Israeli society towards human rights. Finally I also seek to trace the emotional relation to the land in Israeli imagination and to examine the role of the Six-Day War as a turning point in this context.

I look forward to working with students who wish to understand better the complexities accompanying Zionism and the State of Israel from the turn of the century and until today, and students who are interested in the history of Israel in relation to other countries and in comparison with similar phenomena from all over the world.

Honors and Awards

  • Jonatan Shapiro Award for Best Book in Israel Studies, The Association for Israel Studies (2016)
  • Jacob Katz Prize of the Leo Baeck Institute Jerusalem (2012)
  • Jacob Talmon Prize for excellence in the Humanities, Department of History at the Hebrew University Jerusalem (2011)
  • Max Gruenwald Doctoral Award, the Leo Baeck Institute Jerusalem (2005)
  • Moshe Starosta Prize Faculty of Humanities, the Hebrew University Jerusalem (2004)

Research Interests

  • Intellectual and Cultural History of the State of Israel
  • Zionism and Zionist Thought
  • Life and Work of Gershom Scholem
  • Environmental History and History of Emotions
  • Post-War European History


  • Ph.D. at Hebrew University, Jerusalem 2011
  • M.A. at Hebrew University, Jerusalem 2005
  • B.A. at Hebrew University, Jerusalem 2003


  • Gershom Scholem: From Berlin to Jerusalem and Back (Waltham: Brandeis University Press, 2017)
  • Von Berlin nach Jerusalem und zuruck: Gershom Scholem zwischen Israel and Deutschland, (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2017). 
  • (Editor) Scholar and Kabbalist: Gershom Scholem's Life and Work (Leiden: Brill, 2017), with Mirjam Zadoff
  • "Science and Politics: On the Presence and Future of Israel Studies in Germany", “Orchidee oder Mimose? Ein halbes Jahrhudert deutscher Forschung und Lehre über das Judentum in Deutschland, ed. by Andreas Lehnardt (Berlin: deGruyter, forthcoming 2017)
  • "Zionismus und Exil: Robert Weltsch und Gershom Scholem am Schnittpunkt zwischen Holocaust und jüdischem Nationalismus", Jahrbuch für Exilforschung 34 (2016)
  • From Berlin to Jeruslaem and Back: Gershom Scholem between Israel and Germany (Hebr., Jerusalem: Carmel, 2014). 
  • "From Mission to Memory: Walter Benjamin and Werner Scholem in the Life and Work of Gershom Scholem," Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, 13, 1 (2014), together with Mirjam Zadoff.
  • "The Archive, the Students, and the Emotions of a German Israeli Intellectual: Review Essay," Jewish Quarterly Review 103, 3 (2013), pp. 415-428
  • (Ed.), Gershom Scholem and Joseph Weiss: Correspondence 1948-1964 (Hebr., Jerusalem: Carmel, 2012).
  • "'Zion's self-engulfing light': On Gershom Scholem's Disillusionment with Zionism," Modern Judaism 31, 3 (2011), pp. 272-284.