Brandeis University

Dr. Jonathan D. Sarna is University Professor and the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History and Director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University, and Chief Historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. Dubbed by the Forward newspaper in 2004 as one of America’s fifty most influential American Jews, he was Chief Historian for the 350th commemoration of the American Jewish community, and is recognized as a leading commentator on American Jewish history, religion and life. He is the only American Jewish historian ever elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Born in Philadelphia, and raised in New York and Boston, Dr. Sarna attended Brandeis University, the Boston Hebrew College, Merkaz HaRav Kook in Jerusalem, and Yale University, where he obtained his doctorate. He has taught and lectured on four continents, has appeared in half-a-dozen documentary films, and is regularly quoted in newspapers across the world and has written, edited, or coedited more than thirty books, most recently Lincoln and the Jews: A History published by Thomas Dunne Books in March 2015.  He is probably best known for his acclaimed American Judaism: A History, winner of the Jewish Book Council’s Jewish Book of the Year Award, and soon to appear in a second revised edition. It has been praised as being “the single best description of American Judaism during its 350 years on American soil.”

Lectures:

  • Abraham Lincoln and the Jews
  • An Old Faith in the New World: The History of American Judaism
  • George Washington’s Correspondence with the Jews of Newport [text study]
  • Looking Ahead: American Judaism in the 21st Century
  • That Obnoxious Order: Ulysses S. Grant and the Jews