Israel Prize laureate Shamma Friedman is the Benjamin and Minna Reeves Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at The Jewish Theological Seminary teaching at The Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, and Adjunct Professor in the Talmud Department at Bar Ilan University. He has held a variety of positions at the Seminary, including Professor, acting Librarian, Editor of Hebrew publications and Director of the Schocken Institute. During the 1970s and 1980s, Friedman was the Dean and Director of JTS’s Jerusalem campus, now known as the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies.
As a student and young scholar, Shamma Friedman forged a special relationship with Saul Lieberman, Seminary Rector and doyen of Talmud scholarship in the twentieth century. In 1985, Friedman founded the Saul Lieberman Institute of Talmudic Research, which encourages innovative Talmud scholarship and provides sophisticated tools for its implementation. The Institute today, under Friedman’s direction, distributes The Sol and Evelyn Henkind Talmud Text Databank, a computerized database containing the text of almost all surviving Talmud manuscripts, and a computerized page-by-page bibliography of hundreds of books. The product of decades of work, these resources are aimed at opening new horizons in the field of Talmud Study.
Together with Prof. Leib Moscovitz, he has developed an internet site devoted to bringing together all the primary textual witnesses of Tannaitic literature, with Tosefta currently represented, and halakhic midrashim under preparation.
In the early 1990’s, Friedman established The Society for the Interpretation of the Talmud, a collaborative venture in which a group of scholars has undertaken the preparation of an edition of the Babylonian Talmud with commentary based on scholarly standards and aimed to a wide reading audience.
The author of books and articles dealing with various aspects of Talmudic studies, including literary and conceptual development, stratification of the Talmudic sugya, linguistic studies in Hebrew and Aramaic, and the nature of variant readings of the Talmudic texts, Friedman has applied these disciplines systematically in the form of consecutive commentary. In 1996, JTS Press published Talmud Arukh, Bava Metzi’a VI: Critical Edition with Comprehensive Commentary, which demonstrates this approach. His most recent work is Tosefta Atikta, Synoptic Parallels of Mishna and Tosefta Analyzed, with a Methodological Introduction, published by Bar-Ilan University.
In addition to his professorship at JTS and Bar Ilan, Friedman has taught at several universities around the world, including Harvard, the Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University, and has sponsored more than 25 graduate students in advanced degrees. He was elected to the Israel Academy of the Hebrew Language and the American Academy of Jewish Research, is Talmud division editor of the Encyclopaedia Judaica, and is a member of the editorial board of Jewish Studies, an Internet Journal.
Shamma Friedman, born in Philadelphia in 1937, and Rachel (neé Swergold) have lived in Jerusalem since 1973.