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UConn to honor Dr. Arnold Dashefsky

Jewish historian Jonathan Sarna to speak at Oct. 29 event

By Judie Jacobson

STORRS – Dr. Arnold Dashefsky will be honored by the University of Connecticut Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life at a ceremony and reception to be held at the UConn Alumni Center in Storrs on Sunday, Oct. 29, 1 – 3 p.m. The ceremony celebrating Dashefsky’s long career and contributions to the university will be followed by a lecture given by the renowned Jewish historian Dr. Jonathan Sarna.

Dashefsky, who retired in 2012, served as the inaugural holder of the Doris and Simon Konover Chair of Judaic Studies and as founding director of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life at UConn. An emeritus professor of sociology at UConn, he is also a former associate head of the sociology department.

As director of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, he is credited with helping to bring nearly two million dollars in endowments to UConn and a similar sum in external grants. He continues to teach his course on the Sociology of Anti-Semitism at UConn.

A resident of Manchester, Dashefsky is also the director emeritus and current senior academic consultant of the Berman Jewish DataBank. He is the co-editor, along with Ira Sheskin of the University of Miami, of the renewed American Jewish Year Book (2012-2018), which had ceased publication in 2009 after issuing 108 volumes from 1899-2008.

“Arnie is responsible not only for the establishment of UConn’s outstanding Judaic Studies program and its scholarly and outreach components, but for making it one of the best resources for Jewish scholarly work in the U.S.,” Provost Jeremy Teitelbaum told the Ledger in an email. “His work as the first Konover Chair put our Judaic Studies program on the map, and his tireless work on the American Jewish Year Book has reinvigorated an important record of the evolution of Jewish people in the U.S. UConn has been incredibly lucky to have him.”

Dashefsky is also one of the founders of the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry (ASSJ), an international organization, and served as president as well as past editor of its journal, Contemporary Jewry. In 2012, he received the Berman Award for Service from ASSJ. He served two terms as Secretary-Treasurer and board member of the Association for Jewish Studies (AJS). He is co-author or editor of 10 books, including Americans Abroad, Charitable Choices, and Ethnic Identification Among American Jews.

In looking back on his long career, Dashefsky said, “If I have achieved a position worthy of merit, part of the credit belongs to my colleagues, who have nurtured me, to the administrators who encouraged  me, to the friends and alumni of the University who have supported our goals, and to my students who challenged me.”

Following the ceremony honoring Professor Dashefsky, Dr. Jonathan Sarna will present a lecture on “The American Jewish Community in an Era of Change.”

Sarna is University Professor and the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History and Chair of the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University. He is also 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, 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.

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. 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.”

For more information or for reservations to the Oct. 29 ceremony, reception and lecture honoring Dr. Arnold Dashefsky, call (860) 486-2271 no later than Oct. 23.

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