The Ph.D. Program in History

at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

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3/16- A Black Jewish Messiah: The Travels of David Reubeni

A Black Jewish Messiah: The Travels of David Reubeni

March 16th 2023 at 6PM

Reserve a Spot Here


Professor Alan Verskin will share the world into which the semi-messianic figure, David Reubeni, peddles his vision of an autonomous Jewish country in the Holy Land; a world filled with fierce rivalries between Christian and Muslim powers, brutal conquest, and fantastic discovery.


A panel discussion will ensue with Professors Alan Verskin, Ronnie Perelis, and Francesca Bregoli followed by q&a.


In 1524 David Reubeni, also known as the black messiah, arrived in Venice, claiming to be the ambassador of a powerful Arabian Jewish kingdom. In an era of fierce imperial rivalry, and the fantastic discovery and brutal conquest of new lands, people across the Mediterranean saw signs of an impending apocalypse and dreamed of discovering new allies to join them in the coming war. Reubeni offered a Jewish take on these expectations. With his warriors from lost Israelite tribes, he pledged to recover the Holy Land and restore Jewish pride. Numerous Jews and conversos hailed him as the messiah.


Diary of a Black Jewish Messiah is the first English translation of Reubeni’s Hebrew diary.


Alan Verskin is associate professor of Jewish and Islamic History at the University of Rhode Island. His most recent book is A Vision of Yemen: the travels of a European Orientalist and his Native Guide.


Co-sponsored by the Diasporas Project at the Rabbi Arthur Schneier Program for International Affairs at Yeshiva University and The Center for Jewish Studies at the Graduate Center, CUNY.

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