SPRINGFIELD, Ohio - Jonathan D. Sarna, an acclaimed historian of Jewish history, will help celebrate the national commemoration of the 350th anniversary of American Jewish history during the month of September with a visit to Wittenberg University, Monday, Sept. 27, as part of the Wittenberg Series. Like all events of the Series, Sarna's lecture is free and open to the public.
The author and co-author of 20 books on topics ranging from immigration and Zionism to ethnicity and public policy, Sarna will discuss "American Judaism: The 350-Year History of an Old Faith in the New World," at 7:30 p.m. in Weaver Chapel. Sarna's presentation is the Wittenberg Series sponsored William A. Kinnison Endowed Lecture in History.
One of America's foremost commentators on American Jewish history, religion and life, Sarna is currently the Joseph H. and Belle Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. Articles, reviews and commentaries by Sarna appear regularly in scholarly and popular journals, as well as Jewish newspapers across North America. He also reviews Jewish books for the Boston Globe.
Sarna's books include The American Jewish Experience, which has become an essential text for scholars and non-scholars alike; People Walk On Their Heads, a volume dealing with Jewish immigrant life in New York; Jacksonian Jew, a biography of Mordecai Noah; JPS, a cultural history of the Jewish Publication Society; Religion and State in the American Jewish Experience; Women and American Judaism: Historical Perspectives; and Jews and the American Public Square. Another book he authored with Ellen Smith, The Jews of Boston, was turned into a television documentary.
His most recent book, American Judaism, traces the history of Jews from colonial days to the 21st century. According to one reviewer with the Dallas Morning News, "this highly readable yet scholarly book will likely be considered the definitive text on the subject - for Jews and non-Jews alike."
In 2003 Sarna received the Marshall Sklare Award for a distinguished career of research in the social sciences, and in 2002 he was appointed historian for the new National Museum of American Jewish History, which is slated to open in Philadelphia in 2006.
Born in Philadelphia and then raised in New York and Boston, Sarna attended Brandeis University, the Boston Hebrew College, Merkaz HaRav Kook in Jerusalem, and Yale University, where he obtained his doctorate in 1979.
The William A. Kinnison Endowed Lecture in History was established under the auspices of the Wittenberg Board of Directors with the assistance of numerous benefactors to honor Wittenberg's 11th president on the occasion of his retirement from the university after more than 20 years in 1995.
This year, each event of the Series is an illumination. Sarna's lecture fits the theme as the local community is invited to join in this rare opportunity to understand the forces and trends that have defined and continue to shape American Jewish history.
A limited number of 2004-2005 Wittenberg Series posters suitable for framing are available. For more information about the Series, to receive a free poster or become a friend of the Series, contact Gwendolyn Scheffel, Series coordinator at (937) 327-7918 or visit the Wittenberg Series Web site.
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