Beinart, Haim

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BEINART, HAIM (1917– ), Jewish historian specializing in Spanish Jewry in the Middle Ages. Born in Pskow, Russia, Beinart received a traditional Jewish and general education at the Hebrew High School in Riga. He arrived in Palestine in 1937 as a student and commenced his academic studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Concentrating on the history of the Jews in Spain, Beinart spent a research year in the Archivo Historico Nacional in Madrid and in the Archiva General de la Corona de Aragon in Barcelona. He received his Ph.D. in 1955 for his thesis on "The Trials of the Inquisition against the Judaizers in Toledo in the period of the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain."

Beinart taught in the department of Jewish history at the Hebrew University from 1952, becoming a full professor in 1972.

From 1965 to 1969 he served as academic adviser for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at what was to become the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and was dean of the faculty from 1969 to 1973. Beinart served also as the head of the Institute of Jewish Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Beinart was awarded the Israel Prize in 1991 for Jewish history and in 2004 he received the Rothschild Prize.

Beinart's research work dealt extensively with the history of Spanish Jewry in the Middle Ages, based on original sources he uncovered through his meticulous searches in various libraries throughout the world. His research concentrated on the century before the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, although he investigated numerous other areas including studies on the Jews expelled from Spain and their search for refuge in other countries. This includes archival material about Marranos who formed the nucleus for the revival of Jewish communities outside of Spain.

Beinart published hundreds of scholarly articles in various journals in Spanish, Hebrew and English. His four-volume Records of the Trials of the Spanish Inquisition in Ciudad Real, which includes the reports of the trials against the Marranos during the Spanish Inquisition, his Conversos on Trial, and his Expulsion of the Jews from Spain made a major contribution to the study of the era.

Beinart founded and edited the Hispania Judaica Series (1978– ) which publishes historical monographs on the Jewish community in Spain. He was a member of the editorial board of the quarterly Zion and of The Shorter Jewish Encyclopaedia in Russian and was editor of the history of the Jews in Christian Spain for the first edition of the Encyclopaedia Judaica.

[Elaine Hoter]