Henry (Hillel) Abramson (born 1963) is the Dean of the Lander College of Arts and Sciences in Flatbush, New York. Before that, he served as the Dean for Academic Affairs and Student Services at Touro College's Miami branch (Touro College South). He is notable for his teachings on Jewish history and Judaism as a religion.
|Other names||Hillel Abramson|
|Education||Doctor of Philsophy (History), University of Toronto, 1995.|
|Occupation||Dean of Lander College of Arts and Sciences, educator, author, lecturer|
Henry Abramson was born and raised in Iroquois Falls, Ontario. He received his doctorate in history from the University of Toronto in 1995, studying under Professor Paul Robert Magocsi, earning the first PhD in Ukrainian-Jewish history awarded since the establishment of the Chair of Ukrainian Studies there. His research was also supervised by Professor Michael Marrus and Professor Zvi Gitelman.
Abramson was named to the Shevchenko Scientific Society in 1999.
He was Assistant and later Associate Professor of History/Jewish Studies at Florida Atlantic University from 1996-2006 and during that time held appointments at a number of institutions including Oxford University, Cornell University, Harvard University, and Hebrew University. While teaching at Hebrew University, he simultaneously attended the class taught by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach at Ohr Somayach, Jerusalem. His study partners there included Rabbi Natan Gamedze. As Associate Professor and University Library Scholar of Judaica, he worked with the large collection of Yiddish materials in the Wimberly Library, and in this capacity he founded the Kultur Festival of Yiddish Culture in Boca Raton.
In 2006, Abramson moved to his position at Touro College South. Since 2015 he serves as Dean of the Avenue J campus of Touro College in Brooklyn, New York. He has since founded the Flatbush Society of Fellows, an honours program for students at the Avenue J campus of Touro College who are projected to become successful leaders who will change the world.
Effective from September 2018, he was named Dean and Chief Academic Officer of Machon L’Parnasa Institute for Professional Studies at Touro College. The responsibilities of this esteemed position include works with the College architects and construction teams in the design and construction of a new campus, the overhaul of existing associate degree programs and the creation of vocation-oriented academic programming. Abramson also gives a class on the Mesillat Yesharim at the Young Israel of Lawrence Cedarhurst.
Henry Abramson is largely known for his scholarship in Ukrainian Jewish history and antisemitic iconography, but his interests also include the history of Orthodox Judaism, the Talmud and the Haskalah. He authored the "Ukraine" entry in The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe as well as the "Zionist movement" entry in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine. Abramson also was curator for an exhibit on the history of antisemitic iconography in Florida entitled "The Art of Hatred". He has written two introductory books directed toward general audiences about the Talmud and lectures regularly at Touro College South about the history of Orthodox Judaism. His greatest accomplishment is teaching an amazing History of Jewish People course in Touro College.
Abramson has also been a popularizer of Jewish thought, publishing a primer of Talmud and other works on the Jewish intellectual tradition. He is also known for his research on the development of five major narratives for Jewish national identity, first presented at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan in 2003 (Citation: "The End of Intimate Insularity: New Narratives of Jewish History in the Post-Soviet Era," Construction and Deconstruction of National Identities in Post-Soviet Eurasia, ed. Tadayuki Hayashi, Sapporo: Hokkaido University, 2003, 87-115.) and for his work on Rabbi Kalonymus Kalmish Shapiro, a Hasidic Rabbi active in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust. In 2014, Abramson published "The Kabbalah of Forgiveness: The Thirteen Levels of Mercy", a translation of Tomer Devorah by Moses Cordovero ("Date Palm of Devorah").
Abramson is the author of the Jewish History in Daf Yomi podcast, a project of the Orthodox Union Daf Yomi Initiative. Since the Spring of 2019, he has been recording brief videos discussing historical aspects of the daily Talmud study program called Daf Daf Yomi. The overall project will require over 2,700 videos over seven years of research.
- Distinguished Honors Professor of the Year, University Scholars Program, Florida Atlantic University, 2002.
- Kathleen Raymond Award for Excellence in Teaching, IMPAC Award (Individuals Making Personal and Academic Contributions), Florida Atlantic University, 2001.
- Distinguished Professor of the Year, Phi Alpha Theta History Honors Society, Xi Omega Chapter, Florida Atlantic University, 2001.
- Excellence in the Academy Award (category: The Art of Teaching), National Education Association, 2000.*
- 1999/2000 Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Florida Atlantic University, 2000.
- Who's Who Among America's Teachers listing, 2000.
- Award for Outstanding Teaching, Life Long Learning Society, Florida Atlantic University,1999.
Research Grants and AwardsEdit
- Ray D. Wolfe Fellow for Advanced Research in Jewish Studies, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, 1992-1993.
- Eugene and Daymel Shklar Fellow in Ukrainian Studies, Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University, Summer 2002.
- Scholar\Humanist Fellowship, Florida Humanities Council, 2002.
- Fellow, Oxford Center for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Oxford University, Oxford UK, 2003.
Abramson has pioneered the development of Jewish education online. His "This Week in Jewish History" videos are a regular feature in Rabbi Gil Student's Torah Musings (Hirhurim) blog as well as Torahcafe. He shares his research in teacher training seminars in Miami.
In addition to "This Week in Jewish History", Dr. Abramson also developed the first continuing education program for Touro College, with weekly lectures and a broad online following, where he teaches both History of the Jewish People I & II. These courses contain public discussions and are designed to be more interactive than traditional online courses. The courses cover the conflicts and challenges that the Jewish people encountered throughout history.The discussions encourage students not only to formulate answers for the weekly question posed by Dr. Abramson, but also to reply to their fellow students' posts, and bring out new ideas. Additionally, students are required to take part in group projects. All students have access to the group presentation and submit their work in a cohesive manner with their fellow students, allowing students to engage with one another, an important aspect that is missing from most online classes. This allows students to earn their grade through a points system, by showing their academic excellence in Jewish history. The course information is provided in video format, stimulating a regular classroom lecture and helps the students understand the survival of the Jewish people through physically and spiritually trying times.
Many of Dr. Abramson's lectures are free and open to the community, which can be found on online media platforms like YouTube (its statistics as of July 2019: over 20,200 subscribers, 2.5m total views, over 360 lectures, 2.5K viewers daily in 156 countries, average watch time 15 minutes). He has additional lectures posted on TorahAnytime.com. $15,000 in online micro-donations have been raised from the series for student scholarships.
Dr. Abramson also teaches an online Jewish history course at the Lander's college for men and the Lander's college for women. He often uses many of his various videos and lectures from YouTube as lecture material. He incorporates videos of lectures he has given about different historical figures into the course to help build a picture of a certain era in Jewish history.
- Henry Abramson, A Prayer for the Government: Ukrainians and Jews in Revolutionary Times, 1917-1920. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1999.
- Henry Abramson, Reading the Talmud. New York, NY: Feldheim, 2006, reprinted 2012 by Parnoseh Books at Smashwords.
- Henry Abramson, The Art of Hatred: Images of Intolerance in Florida Culture. Miami Beach, FL: Jewish Museum of Florida, 2001.
- Henry Abramson, The Sea of Talmud: A Brief and Personal Introduction Miami Beach, FL: Parnoseh Books at Smashwords, 2012.
- Henry Abramson, "Moses Maimonides on Teshuvah: The Ways of Repentance, A New Translation and Commentary" Smashwords/Createspace, 2012.
- Henry Abramson, The Kabbalah of Forgiveness: The Thirteen Levels of Mercy in Rabbi Moshe Cordovero's Date Palm of Devorah (Tomer Devorah) Smashwords/Createspace, 2014.
- Henry Abramson, Torah from the Years of Wrath 1939-1943: The Historical Context of the Aish Kodesh CreateSpace, October 2017.
Since early 2011, Henry Abramson has been delivering biographical lectures on Jewish leaders, including: Sarah Schenirer, Bar Kochba,  Hannah Szenes, Golda Meir, Evgenia Ginzburg, Emanuel Ringelblum, Shimon Dubnow, Moses Mendelssohn, Nathan of Hanover, Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, Don Isaac Abravanel, Johannes Pfefferkorn, Yehudah Ha-Levi, Rashi, Benjamin of Tudela, Rachel, wife of Rabbi Akiva, Sarah Bernhardt, Leon Trotsky, Shalom Aleichem, Theodor Herzl, Rahel Varnhagen, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Rabbi Yosef Karo, Shabbetai Tsvi, Gluckel of Hameln, The Ba'al Shem Tov, Menachem Begin, Stephen Samuel Wise, Albert Einstein, Betty Friedan, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Isaac Bashevis Singer., Maimonides., King David.
Link to Dean Abramson YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeNr6gwqin_7e_atjVnJcCQ›
Lars Fischer, the Academic Director at The Woolf Institute, criticized Abramson's work for privileging claims made by historians largely sympathetic to traditional Ukrainian narratives while claiming to follow the trend of synthesizing of Jewish and Ukrainian historiographical approaches; Abramson, in a rebuttal, rejected this criticism. In a later article, Fischer noted that while he would "now be more prepared to acknowledge the extent to which Abramson has indeed succeeded in creating a historiographical synthesis," he "would add that it is precisely the desire to synthesise rather than radically deconstruct the existing paradigms that is in fact the problem" and still maintains Abramson's "approach fairly consistently privileges and perpetuates the paradigms that traditionally constitute the National Ukrainian approach".
- Touro College - Touro College South: Faculty and Staff Archived 2009-02-25 at the Wayback Machine
- page vi of Reading the Talmud
- Abramson, Henry (2003). "The End of Intimate Insularity: New Narratives of Jewish History in the Post-Soviet Era" (PDF). Construction and Deconstruction of National Identities in Post-Soviet Eurasia: 87–115.