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New Perspectives in American Jewish History

A Documentary Tribute to Jonathan D. Sarna

Widely regarded as today’s foremost American Jewish historian, Jonathan D. Sarna had a huge impact on the academy. Sarna’s influence is perhaps nowhere more apparent than among his former doctoral students—a veritable “Sarna diaspora” of over three dozen active scholars around the world. Both a tribute to Sarna and an important collection in its own right, New Perspectives in American Jewish History was compiled by Sarna’s former students and presents previously unpublished, neglected, or rarely seen historical documents and images that illuminate the breadth, diversity, and dynamism of the American Jewish experience. Beginning with the earliest known Jewish divorce in circum-Atlantic history (1774) and concluding with a Black Lives Matter Haggadah supplement (2019), the collection travels across time and space to shed light on intriguing and generative moments that span the varieties of Jewish experience in the American setting from the colonial era to the present. The materials underscore the interrelationship of myriad themes including ritual observance, Jewish-Christian relations, civil rights, Zionism and Israel, and immigration. While not intended as a comprehensive treatment of American Jewish history, the collection offers a chronological road map of American Jewry’s evolving self-understanding and encounter with America over the course of four centuries. A brief prefatory note sets up the analytic context of each document and helps to unpack and explore its significance. The capacious and multifaceted quality of the American Jewish experience is further amplified here by a sampling of artistic texts such as photographs, advertisements, cartoons, and more. 

504 pages | 10 halftones | 6 1/8 x 9 1/4

Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture, and Life

History: American History

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"..a multidimensional presentation and a fresh resource to explore American Jewish history."


"This book is a wonderful resource for anyone wishing insight into the development of Jewish life in the United States and an essential tool for any class concerning American Jewish history."

New Books Network

“This fascinating collection of hitherto neglected and hidden documents, elegantly introduced and annotated by Jonathan Sarna’s students, stands as a stellar tribute to their teacher.  Over the course of his outstanding career, Prof. Sarna, uncovering new sources, boldly reinterpreted the American Jewish past. Mark Raider and Gary Zola and the other scholars and Jewish communal leaders contributing to this volume have proudly followed in their teacher’s footsteps.”

Pamela S. Nadell, author of America’s Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today

“This remarkably insightful, deeply researched, and extremely illuminating collection of superbly edited documents is a fitting tribute to Jonathan Sarna, himself a fountain of insight, a master of research, and the greatest living historian of American Jewish history.”

Mark Noll, author of America's Book: The Rise and Decline of a Bible Civilization, 1794-1911

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments, Editors’ Note, Introductory Essay Mark A. Raider and Gary P. Zola, 1774 Holly Snyder “Concerning a Gate he Send to Our Kakam”: A Transatlantic Divorce in the Eighteenth-Century Americas, 1826 Gary P. Zola “And Made Them Wear a Hat”: Isaac Harby Asserts the Authenticity of Bareheaded Jewish Prayer, 1841 Jason M. Olson “The Kingdom Restored to Israel”: Mormon Apostle Orson Hyde’s Reflections on Judaism, 1843 Jeffrey Haus “A Union of Heart, a Union of Action”: Isaac Leeser and the Challenge of Jewish Education in the Nineteenth-Century America, 1858 Philip Cohen “That We Might Become a Shining Example”: The Innovations of David Einhorn’s Prayerbook Olat Tamid (The Daily Whole Offering) , 1861 Adam Mendelsohn “A Jewish Chaplain for the Cameron Dragoons”: The Real Chaplaincy Controversy of the Civil War, 1864 Shari Rabin “In the Strictest Jewish Orthodox Stile”: A Contract Between Isaac Wolf and Congregation Etz Hayim (Pittsburgh, PA), 1872-73 Seth Korelitz “Solicited on the Ground of Humanity, Recognized as a National Duty”: The Board of Delegates of American Israelites and the Shaping of American Jewish Politics, 1883-1902 Geraldine Gudefin “As to the Validity of the Tribal Laws of the Jews”: The Fascination of the American Press with East European Jewish Marital Life, 1886 Zev Eleff “For the Defense of Our Jewish Interests”: Henry Pereira Mendes’ Call for an International Synod, 1891 Lincoln Mullen “Conversions to and from Judaism”: Joseph Krauskopf on American Christian Missions to the Jews, 1893 Emily Sigalow “A Careful Student of the Religion of the East”: Charles T. Strauss’ Converts to Buddhism at the World’s Columbian Exposition (Chicago, IL), 1899 Susanna Klosko “Without Sacrificing the Rights of our Citizens”: Concerning the Ottoman Empire’s Restrictions on American Jews Entering Palestine, 1904-05 Joellyn Zollman “Moses Presents the Ten Commandments to the Children of Israel”: Emile Pissis’ Stained Glass Window of Congregation Sherith Israel (San Francisco, CA), 1913 Michael Cohen “For the Welfare of Israel in this Country”: Cyrus Adler, Henry Pereira Mendes, and the Creation of the United Synagogue of America, 1913 Aviva Ben-Ur “They Can Ship Me Anywhere”: An Ottoman Jewish Immigrant in Midland America, 1914 David Kaufman “A Type Apart”: A Gentile Perspective on New York’s Jews at the Turn of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, 1916 Amber Taylor “The Gentleman Being Both a German and a Jew”: Brigham Henry Roberts Nominates Simon Bamberger as Democratic Candidate for Governor of Utah, 1917 Geraldine Gudefin “What Justice or Redress Can Be Gained”: East European Jewish Immigrants and Legal Aid, 1920 Mina Muraoka “Jacob H. Schiff: A Prince in Israel”: A Eulogy by Samuel F. Mendelsohn, 1920 Deborah Skolnick Einhorn “The Ladies, God Bless ‘Em, Used to Hold Bazaars, But Not Now”: American Jewish Women and Philanthropy, 1922 Dan Judson “No Aristocracy and No Snobocracy”: Samuel H. Goldenson and the Democratization of the Synagogue, 1922-40 Jonathan Krasner “To Make Them Positive, Self-Conscious Jews”: The Shift in Reform Judaism to a New Pro-Zionist Jewish Educational Agenda, 1931 Dan Judson and Deborah Skolnick Einhorn “Observing Sabbath in its Time-Honored Way”: Temple Adath Israel (Louisville, KY) Debates the Elimination of Sunday Worship Services, 1934 Lance J. Sussman “Destiny Has Bound Us Together”: Albert Einstein Speaks to Congregation Keneseth Israel (Philadelphia, PA), 1939 Karla Goldman “Don’t Hush Me!”: American Jewish College Students and Jewish Identity in the Interwar Period, 1939 Mark A. Raider “Ensuring Our Future”: The Creation of the Emergency Committee for Zionist Affairs, 1939-42 Kerry Olitzky “Farming as a Life Occupation”: Peter Salm and the National Farm School (Bucks County, PA), 1941 Rona Sheramy “Citizenship, Civic Virtue, and Safeguarding Democracy”: Israel S. Chipkin on American Jewish Education, 1946 Karla Goldman and Mark A. Raider The Twin Promised Lands of America and Palestine: Arthur Szyk’s “Pilgrims”, 1948 Mark A. Raider “The Greater Sin”: Jacob M. Rothschild’s Yom Kippur Sermon on American Jews, the South, and Civil Rights, 1951 Rachel Gordan “What the Jews Believe”: A Liberal Rabbi Explains Judaism to the Readers of Life Magazine, 1957 Felicia Herman “Our Simple Duty as Jews”: Herbert Friedman’s Radio Address for the United Jewish Appeal 1957 Ofer Shiff “Valiant Builders, Fighters, and Dreamers”: Abba Hillel Silver on American Jewish Relations with Israel, 1960 Mark A. Raider and Gary P. Zola “We Must Change Our Line”: Will Maslow’s Report on the Conference of the American Zionist Committee for Public Affairs (AIPAC), 1964 Amaryah Ornstein “An Intolerable Situation and a Moral Blot on Humanity”: The Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry and American Jewish Youth Culture, 1976 Mark A. Raider “To Secure Israel’s Survival and Security”: President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger Meet with American Jewish Leaders, 1987 Shari Rabin “Overlooked, Out There on the Rim, in the Southern Part of America”: Eli N. Evans, Macy B. Hart, and the Project of Southern Jewish History, 1987-1992 Gary P. Zola “Blacks and Jews are Kindred in Spirit”: Alexander M. Schindler on Black-Jewish Relations, 1988 Beth Cousens “A Shift from the Child to the Family”: American Jews and the Challenge of Continuity, 1988 Mina Muraoka “The World is Not the Same Since Auschwitz and Hiroshima”: Kathy Schwartz’s Reflections on Tisha Beav, 1994 Jonathan Krasner “To Combat Homophobia”: Jewish Activist Gays and Lesbians, 2008 Deborah Skolnick Einhorn “Leveling the Playing Field”: Women and American Jewish Organizational Life, 2017 Jonathan Golden “The Kotel Belongs to All Jews Worldwide”: The American Jewish Committee and the Western Wall Controversy, Selected Bibliography of Works by Jonathan D. Sarna, Biographies of Contributors, Index

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