Skip to main content
Skip to main menu Skip to spotlight region Skip to secondary region Skip to UGA region Skip to Tertiary region Skip to Quaternary region Skip to unit footer


Semitic language scholar joins UGA as the Ann and Jay Davis Professor of Jewish Studies

Alan Flurry

Aaron Rubin joined the University of Georgia in August 2023 as the Ann and Jay Davis Professor of Jewish Studies in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of religion. Rubin arrived at UGA after 19 years on the faculty at Penn State University.

Jewish Studies is a vast field, which includes the study of religion, history, literature, language, philosophy, art, sociology, political science, and more. Rubin hopes to work with other faculty and donors to help strengthen and expand the Jewish Studies program at UGA. "A flourishing Jewish Studies program,” Rubin said, “will be able to contribute to the UGA curriculum in a myriad of ways.”

Rubin is the author of eight books, and editor of five others, including, most recently, "Linguistic and Philological Studies of the Hebrew Bible and its Manuscripts" (Brill, 2023). His main field of study is Semitic languages, with an emphasis on Hebrew (ancient and modern), Modern South Arabian languages, and Ethiopian Semitic languages.

In 2016 he was the recipient of a John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, during which time he did research on Mehri and Jibbali, two unwritten, endangered languages spoken in Oman. He published the first comprehensive grammars of these languages, along with collections of oral texts gathered in collaboration with native speakers. Rubin thinks that the large Ethiopian-American community in the Atlanta metro area will offer excellent opportunities for future linguistic research.

Rubin’s research also focuses on Jewish languages, the subject of three of his books and several articles.

"My last book, Jewish Languages from A to Z, tells the story of 50 different Jewish languages and dialects, from communities as far away as India, China, and South Africa," he said. For his work on Jewish languages, Rubin has visited manuscript collections in more than a dozen libraries around the world, discovering and identifying unknown or little-known texts from Jewish history.  

"While I mainly focus on the study of language, I try to emphasize to my students (or my readers) that Jewish languages –– such as Yiddish, Ladino, Judeo-Arabic, and Judeo-Italian –– should be interesting not only to linguists, who can study their many grammatical and lexical peculiarities, but also to anyone studying Jewish history, the Jewish religion, or Jewish literature," he said. “The languages present an entry point into the great diversity of Jewish communities that have existed outside the land of Israel in the last 2000 years, or in some cases even longer.”

"I am delighted to be teaching at UGA, and honored to have been selected as the Davis Professor of Jewish Studies," Rubin said. "I look forward to bringing my diverse interests into the classroom, and am very eager to grow the field of Jewish Studies here."

Image: Aaron Rubin

Support Franklin College

We appreciate your financial support. Your gift is important to us and helps support critical opportunities for students and faculty alike, including lectures, travel support, and any number of educational events that augment the classroom experience. Click here to learn more about giving.