Patai, Raphael, 1910-1996

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From the description of Reminiscences of Raphael Patai : oral history, 1980. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 122419151

Raphael Patai (1910-1996) was a prominent cultural anthropologist and authority on Jewish cultures around the world. He was born in Budapest, Hungary on November 22, 1910, the son of Hungarian Jews, Edith (Ehrenfeld) Patai and Joseph Patai (1882-1953). Until 1935, Patai used his birth name Ervin George Patai. His father was a prominent scholar, editor and Zionist who published a biography of Theodor Herzl and who was the editor from 1910 to 1940 of a monthly journal of Jewish affairs entitled Mult Es Jovo (Past and Future). Patai's father was also a founder of the Zionist Organization in Hungary and was instrumental in procuring the support for the settlement of Jews in Palestine where he also settled in 1939.

Raphael was educated in rabbinical seminaries and at the universities of Budapest and Breslau. In 1933, after receiving a doctorate in Semitic languages and Oriental history from the University of Budapest, he settled in Palestine where he continued his studies at the Hebrew University from which he received (in 1936) a doctorate in Palestinology. Afterwards, he returned briefly to Budapest where he was ordained at the Rabbinal Seminary.

In Palestine, Dr. Patai held several teaching posts at Hebrew University and at Haifa Technion. In 1944, he founded the Palestine Institute of Folklore and Ethnology, serving until 1948 as its director of research and editor of its quarterly journal Edoth which he also founded.

In 1947 with the aid of a fellowship from the Viking Fund for Anthropological Research Patai studied the Jews of Mexico. Upon the completion of his research, Patai settled in the United States where he became a naturalized American citizen in 1952.

During his academic career, Dr. Patai held numerous visiting professorships at American universities including Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, New York University and Ohio State University. He held professorships of Anthropology at Dropsie College (1948-1957) and at Fairleigh Dickinson from 1966 until his retirement. He also directed (1955-1956) a research project on Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan for the Human Relations Area Files, Inc. (New Haven, Connecticut) and prepared a special report on social conditions in the Middle East for the United Nations in 1952 .

Patai has also served as Director of Research for the Herzl Institute and editor of the Herzl Press, and as an advisory editor of Encyclopedia American. He was President of the American Folklore Society and a fellow of the American Anthropological Association.

Dr. Patai's principal contributions to scholarship have been in the fields of cultural anthropology of the ancient Hebrews and Jews and of the modern Middle East. He has published hundreds of scholarly articles and authored or edited some thirty-five books including The Arab Mind (1973), Gates to the Old City (1980), The Hebrew Goddess (1967), The Jewish Mind (1976), The Messiah Texts (1979), and The Vanished Worlds of Jewry (1980). With Robert Graves he co-authored Hebrew Myths (1964). --------------------------------------

By his first marriage to Naomi Tolkowsky, Dr. Patai had two daughters, Jennifer (Dr. Jennifer Patai-Schneider), born 1940 and Daphne (Dr. Daphne Patai, born 1942). Patai was married three more times, to Irene Patai, Ann Uhl Drevet, and Frances Sheldon.

From the guide to the Raphael Patai papers, 1937-1999, 1975-1995, (The New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Raphael Patai papers, 1937-1999, 1975-1995 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Patai, Raphael, 1910-1996. Reminiscences of Raphael Patai : oral history, 1980. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn The Nation, records, 1879-1974 (inclusive), 1920-1955 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Graves, Robert, 1895-1985. Robert Graves collection. [1934-1970]. University of Victoria Libraries, UVic
creatorOf Patai, Raphael, 1910-1996. Raphael Patai papers, 1937-1999 bulk (1975-1995). New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Papers of Victor D. Sanua, 1938-2009, bulk 1960-2005 American Sephardi Federation
referencedIn Papers of Robert Graves: Correspondence (arranged by correspondent), c1909 to 2004 St John's College, Oxford
referencedIn Dorson mss., 1925-1981 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
referencedIn Papers of Robert Graves: Lectures and speeches, 1958 to 1973 St John's College, Oxford
referencedIn Papers of Robert Graves: Works by others: pamphlets, offprints and other materials, 1824 to 2006 St John's College, Oxford
referencedIn Papers of Robert Graves: Critical prose and journalism, 1927 to 2003 St John's College, Oxford
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Dorson, Richard Mercer, 1916-1981 person
associatedWith Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Learning. corporateBody
associatedWith Fairleigh Dickinson University corporateBody
associatedWith Goldmann, Nahum, 1895-1982. person
associatedWith Graves, Robert, 1895-1985. person
associatedWith Graves, Robert Windham, 1858-1934 person
associatedWith Makhon ha-Eretsyiśreʼeli le-folḳlor ṿe-etnologyah corporateBody
correspondedWith Nation (New York, N.Y. : 1865). corporateBody
associatedWith Palestine Institute of Folklore and Ethnology. corporateBody
associatedWith Sanua, Victor D. person
associatedWith Stein, Rose, person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Middle East
Middle East
Jews, American
Jews, Hungarian
College teachers


Birth 1910-11-22

Death 1996-07-20









Ark ID: w6cr7qjb

SNAC ID: 60306219