Brandeis professor Jonathan Sarna elected president of Association for Jewish Studies

( Brandeis University Professor of American Jewish Studies Jonathan Sarna has been elected as the next president of the Association for Jewish Studies (AJS).

Sarna, the Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History and chairman of the Hornstein Program for Jewish Professional Leadership at Brandeis, is the fourth Brandeis faculty member to hold the office. The others from Brandeis to serve as president are Leon Jick (1969-71), Marvin Fox (1976-78) and Sarna’s father, Nahum M. Sarna (1984-85).

“This is a great honor to be leading an organization that plays an important role in furthering Jewish studies scholarship and education,” Sarna said. “On a personal level, it means a great deal to me to be following in my father’s footsteps. As the first child of an Association for Jewish Studies president to be elected to the same position, I consider myself the ‘John Quincy Adams’ of the organization.”

Sarna, who is also the chief historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, earned his doctoral degree in history from Yale University and his undergraduate degree in Judaic studies and history from Brandeis.

The Association for Jewish Studies was founded in 1969 at Brandeis by a small group of scholars seeking a forum for exploring methodological and pedagogical issues in the new field of Jewish Studies. Since its founding, the association has grown into the largest learned society and professional organization representing Jewish studies scholars worldwide, according to the university.

“We are proud of Brandeis’ historic role in the creation and nurturing of the field of Jewish studies in the United States and of our faculty who have served the profession in this role,” said Brandeis University Provost Steve Goldstein  “Dr. Sarna’s scholarly contributions and international stature are valued both by Brandeis and the association.”

As a constituent organization of the American Council of Learned Societies, the association represents the field in the larger arena of the academic study of the humanities and social sciences in North America. Its mission is to advance research and teaching in Jewish Studies at colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning, and to foster greater understanding of Jewish studies scholarship among the wider public, according to Brandeis.

The association’s more than 1,800 members are university faculty, graduate students, independent scholars, and museum and related professionals who represent the breadth of Jewish studies scholarship.

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