Jonathan Daniel Sarna
University Professor & Joseph H. Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University
Dr. Jonathan Sarna is University Professor and the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History. He is also a past president of the Association for Jewish Studies, Chief Historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, and co-chair of the advisory board of the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati.
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. In 2009, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the first American Jewish historian ever elected to that body. He is also a member of the American Academy for Jewish Research and holds four honorary degrees.
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 in 1979.
From 1979-1990, Dr. Sarna taught at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, where he rose to become Professor of American Jewish history and Director of the Center for the Study of the American Jewish Experience. He has also taught at Harvard, Yale, the University of Cincinnati, and at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Dr. Sarna came back to Brandeis in 1990 to teach American Jewish history in its Department of Near Eastern & Judaic Studies. He chaired that department three different times, and for a decade also chaired Brandeis’ Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program. He co-chairs the Academic Advisory and Editorial Board of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati.
Dr. Sarna has written, edited, or co-edited more than thirty books, including the new Coming to Terms with America as well as Lincoln and the Jews: A History (with Benjamin Shapell) and When General Grant Expelled the Jews. He is best known for the acclaimed American Judaism: A History, which recently appeared in a second, revised edition. Winner of the Jewish Book Council’s “Jewish Book of the Year Award” in 2004, it has been praised as being “the single best description of American Judaism during its 350 years on American soil.”
Dr. Sarna is married to Professor Ruth Langer, and they have two married children and three delightful grandsons.
AMERICAN JUDAISM: A HISTORY (2nd ed., Yale U Press 2019)
LINCOLN & THE JEWS: A HISTORY, with Benjamin Shapell ( St. Martin’s, 2015)
WHEN GENERAL GRANT EXPELLED THE JEWS (Nextbook/Schocken, 2012)
THE AMERICANIZATION OF JEWISH CULTURE, 1888-1988 (JPS 1989)
JACKSONIAN JEW: THE TWO WORLDS OF MORDECAI NOAH: (Holmes & Meier, 1981)