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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Middle Eastern Studies
University Lecturer in Hebrew & Aramaic
Email address: 
01223 335143

I was born in Leningrad, USSR in 1972, and was brought at the age of eight to New York, where I grew up until my emigration to Israel in 2007. I am a graduate of New York’s Stuyvesant High School, the University of Chicago (BA, MA), and the Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University (PhD), where I studied Northwest Semitic philology and wrote a dissertation on the language of the Hebrew liturgical poetry of Byzantine-period Palestine. After a few years spent on post-docs of various sorts, I settled down in Jerusalem, where I met my wife, had two children, and worked as a researcher in the medieval poetry section of the Historical Hebrew Dictionary Project of the Academy of the Hebrew Language.  In 2013, I arrived with my family to Cambridge to take up a position at the University. 

Teaching responsibilities: 

Dr Rand teaches undergraduate courses in Hebrew and the history and culture of the Middle East

Supervision information: 

Dr Rand is happy to supervise graduate students in areas relating to his research.

Research interests: 

My research specialty is the Jewish liturgical poetry (piyyut) that was composed—mostly in Hebrew, but some also in Aramaic—in Byzantine-period Palestine. This poetry is preserved in two types of manuscript sources: Jewish liturgical books (mahzorim) from various areas in medieval Europe, and an enormous cache of manuscripts discovered in the second half of the 19th century in Old Cairo, known as The Cairo Genizah. The majority of the manuscripts originating in the Genizah are now held by the Cambridge University Library. As a result of prolonged close contact with manuscripts I have also come to learn a lot about Hebrew paleography. Within the field of piyyut, I am particularly interested in the work of Eleazar be-rabbi Qillir, a poet who flourished during the first half of the 8th century. Qillir is one of the great geniuses of medieval Hebrew literature, and the corpus of his surviving works has been expanded significantly with the discovery of the Genizah. Some of these newly-added materials have been edited, while many others still await publication.

Current PhD students

Paul Rodrigue: Working title: Jerome’s translation of the Book of Daniel