Dr. Rhona Seidelman joined the History Department and the Schusterman Center of Judaic and Israel Studies as Schusterman Chair of Israel Studies in August of 2015. Professor Seidelman’s research interests are in the history of immigration, the history of medicine and public health and Israel. Originally from Canada, she has a B.A. and an M.A. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a Ph.D. from Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Before coming to OU she taught at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Her book Under Quarantine: Immigrants and Disease at Israel’s Gate came out with Rutgers University Press in 2020. Under Quarantine tells the story of Shaar Ha’aliya, Israel’s “Ellis Island”. Focusing on the conflicts surrounding the camp’s medical quarantine, this book argues that we cannot fully understand Israel until we understand Shaar Ha’aliya and its complicated role as the country’s largest center of arrival for hundreds of thousands of immigrants.
Currently Professor Seidelman is working on two new projects. ‘Claiming My Egypt’ is inspired by, and continues in the tradition of, scholarly, autobiographical reflections of women intellectuals of Middle Eastern descent. This project explores questions of identity among the children of Egypt’s Jewish diaspora. Her second project ‘Zionism, Tuberculosis and the Making of the 20th Century’ is a book on patients’ experiences with tuberculosis in Palestine/Israel from 1882 until today.
Dr. Seidelman’s articles on health and immigration in Israel have been published in various journals including: The American Journal of Public Health, The Journal of Israeli History, AJS Perspectives, and Ha’aretz.