Jonathan Sarna

Jonathan Sarna

University Professor

Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History

Director, Schusterman Center for Israel Studies


  • Yale University, PhD

  • Yale University, MPhil

  • Yale University, MA

  • Brandeis University, MA

  • Brandeis University, BA

  • Hebrew College, BHL


Dr. Jonathan Sarna, University Professor and the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, directs the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University. He is past president of the Association for Jewish Studies 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 50 most influential American Jews, Dr. Sarna 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. He holds four honorary degrees.

Born in Philadelphia and raised in New York and Boston, Dr. Sarna attended Brandeis University, 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 Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Dr. Sarna came back to Brandeis in 1990 to teach American Jewish history in its Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. He chaired that department three different times, chaired Brandeis' Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program twice and now directs its Schusterman Center for Israel Studies. He also chairs the Academic Advisory and Editorial Board of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati.

He is married to Professor Ruth Langer, and they have two married children, Aaron and Leah.

Selected Publications

Dr. Sarna has written, edited or co-edited more than 30 books, including "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" recently published in a second 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."

See a list of Dr. Sarna's many publications on his dedicated webpages.