Aryeh Shmuelevitz, too soon

Aryeh Shmuelevitz, a member of the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University and a colleague, died of a heart attack on Wednesday, while attending a university event. He was only 72, and although he had retired, he came to his campus office each day, met with colleagues, and guided students. The sudden loss has been felt keenly by us.

Shmuelevitz specialized in Ottoman, contemporary Turkish and Iranian history, and the history of the Jews in the Ottoman empire. He trained at the Hebrew University under the great German-born orientalists of the old school, in particular the Turcologist Uriel Heyd, and he had a full command of Ottoman and modern Turkish. Shmuelevitz was one of the founders of the Shiloah Institute (precursor of the Dayan Center) in the years before it migrated to the university. He was instrumental in assisting Shimon Shamir in bringing the institute to the campus, and his later record of service to the university, as a teacher and administrator, was long and impressive.

His edition of the sixteenth-century history of the Ottoman empire by the Candian rabbi-historian Eliyahu Capsali (Seder Eliyahu Zuta) is his chief scholarly monument. But he also wrote widely on contemporary Turkey, and loved to travel through the length and breadth of that country. The Turkish ambassador to Israel attended his funeral this morning.

There is a saying in Turkish, that God takes those he loves early. Aryeh will be missed by all. This link is to an article he published on Ataturk’s policy toward the great powers.