Fischel, Walter Joseph

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FISCHEL, WALTER JOSEPH (1902–1973), scholar of Oriental Jewry. Fischel was born in Frankfurt on the Main. From 1926 to 1945 he was a member of the faculty of Oriental studies in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, taking part in several expeditions to all countries of the Near and Middle East and India. From 1945 he was professor of Semitic languages and literature at the University of California, Berkeley. After his retirement in 1970 he was appointed professor of Jewish studies and history at the Santa Cruz campus of the University of California. Fischel's publications centered around two major research areas: medieval Islamic civilization and Jewish civilization. In the former field, his major publications include Ibn Khaldun and Tamerlane-Their Dramatic Meeting in Damascus in 1401 (1952), Ibn Khaldun in Egypt (1967), and Jews in the Economic and Political Life of Medieval Islam (1937; reissued with an essay as The Court Jew in the Islamic World, 1969). He wrote on economic aspects of medieval Islam. In his research on Jewish civilization, he stressed the history and literature of the Jewish Diaspora in the Orient, especially *Iraq, *Kurdistan, *Persia, *Afghanistan, *Bukhara, and *India. He discovered many significant documents in Dutch, Portuguese, and Indian archives. His works on Persia include The Bible in Persian Translation, Israel in Iran – A Survey of the Judeo-Persian Literature, and History of the Jews in Persia and Central Asia and Their Literature. On the Jews of India he wrote many monographs including a comprehensive work in Hebrew, Ha-Yehudim be-Hodu (1960). Fischel served as departmental editor of the Encyclopaedia Judaica for the history of the Jews in Persia, Afghanistan, Central Asia, and India.