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Jewish Studies Program

Study Jewish history, culture, and traditions.

Jewish Studies at AU

Do you want to know more about antisemitism, the Holocaust and its film and literature, Jewish comedy, Fiddler on the Roof, politics (American, Jewish, and Israeli), the Bible, Jesus, and how to order a falafel in Hebrew? If so, then American University’s Jewish Studies Program has courses for you.

Our prize-winning faculty explore these topics and many others in our classrooms. Our students pursue internships at the world-class US Holocaust Memorial Museum, at the many Jewish communal agencies headquartered in the nation’s capital, and on the Hill. Our campus hosts outstanding guest scholars and artists to deepen our understanding of Jewish life and culture. Our majors and minors graduate with a deeper understanding of the civilizations of the Jewish people and go on to careers in public service and the for-profit sector.

Understanding Antisemitism: 
A Guide

Dr. Pamela Nadell, Director of the Jewish Studies Program, took the lead on creating "Understanding Antisemitism: A Guide for the AU Community." AU faculty, students, and staff provided additional support to complete this guide for the benefit of the university community. Read the guide.

Past Programming

Antisemitism Since the Holocaust Series:
Europe, Israel, and America

Antisemitism and Racism with Cheryl Greenberg and Marc Dollinger
The Deep Roots of Modern Anti-Judaism
Jews of Color: American Jews, Race, and History

Acts of Remembrance Series:
Shaping Holocaust Memory in the 21st Century

Ruth Franklin: Anne Frank, A Life
Geraldine Schwarz: Those Who Forget: My Family's Story in Nazi Europe
Rebecca Frankel: Into the Forest: A Holocaust Story of Survival, Triumph, and Love

Europe's Jews Before the Holocaust Series

Jeffrey Veidlinger: In the Midst of Civilized Europe
In Hitler's Munich: Jews, the Revolution, and the Rise of Nazism with Michael Brenner

View additional AU Jewish Studies past events series on YouTube.

Graduate Students

Andrew Sperling, PhD candidate in History, is currently working on his dissertation, "American Jews Against Antisemitic Extremism.” Sperling was awarded the Mark and Ruth Luckens International Prize in Jewish Thought and Culture from the University of Kentucky for his paper "'Living on a Sort of Island': Jewish Refugee Farmers in the American South," which will appear in the forthcoming edition of American Jewish History. Additionally, Sperling published "Creative Power: A Jewish Refugee in the Jim Crow South, 1939-46" in the peer-reviewed journal Southern Jewish History. Sperling is also the recipient of a number of fellowships and grants from the American Jewish Archives, the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives, and the American Academy for Jewish Research.

Rachael Davis, a third-year PhD student in History, is researching Jewish women in the American South. She is currently the Editorial Assistant at the Rebecca Gratz Digital Collection, where she transcribes Gratz's letters from 1799 to 1869. She is also the Research Assistant at the Catskills Institute, which focuses on Jewish hotel and resort culture in New York.

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News & Notes

PhD Candidate Andrew Sperling recently published "'Living on a Sort of Island': Jewish Refugee Farmers in the American South, 1938-1946" in the journal American Jewish History, as well as an article in The Conversation. Congratulations, Andrew! Read the American Jewish History article, and The Conversation article.

Dr. Pamela Nadell received a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholars Award to write a book on the history of American antisemitism. 

Dr. Pamela Nadell addresses the long history of American antisemitism as the White House releases the National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism in an article for The Conversation. Read the full article.

Dr. Michael Brenner has recently been named by the German Federal Minister of the Interior to a commission whose objective is to study the massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. 

American University conducted an interview with Dr. Pamela Nadell regarding the current state of antisemitism in America. Read the full interview.

Quick Links

Meltzer Schwartzberg Center for Israel Studies
AU Jewish Studies on Facebook
AU Jewish Studies on YouTube

Dr. Pamela Nadell and Dr. Michael Brenner were both invited to a White House Listening Session on the National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism. 

The Jewish Studies Program recently concluded a new series: Acts of Remembrance: Shaping Holocaust Memory in the 21st CenturyThis series brought a variety of speakers to campus (virtually and in-person) throughout the Spring semester. Our speakers included Ruth Franklin, Rebecca Frankel, Andrew Kornbluth, and Susan Suleiman. The entire series can be found on our YouTube playlist

Dr. Julie Keresztes joins the Jewish Studies Program as the 2022-2024 Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies Postdoctoral Fellow. Read more about Dr. Keresztes and her academic work.

Alumna Meredith R. Weisel was recently named the Regional Director of the DC office of the Anti-Defamation League. Read more about Weisel's work with the ADL.

Andrew Sperling (history PhD student) won the 2021 Mark and Ruth Luckens International Prize in Jewish Thought and Culture for his essay "Living on a Sort of Island’: Jewish Refugee Farmers in the American South." 

Dr. Pamela Nadell was featured in Set the World on Fire: How Antisemitism Fuels White Nationalism from PBS.

Dr. Pamela Nadell spoke to BYU Radio on antisemitism in the real world and online.

"Jews of Color: American Jews, Race and History" Event: If you missed it, check out this amazing virtual event held via Zoom! Thank you to Laura Leibman, Kelly Whitehead, Lewis Gordon, and Lauren Strauss for an amazing conversation about the American Jewish community's relationship to race.

Dr. Pamela Nadell published America’s Jewish Women: A History From Colonial Times to Today, which won the Everett Family Foundation Jewish Book of the Year in the 2019 National Jewish Book Awards.

Michael Brenner (History, Israel Studies), published his new book in German on Munich's rise as the capital of antisemitism and the testing ground for Adolf Hitler after World War One.

Lisa Leff has been appointed Director of the Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

See videos from the 2022 Israeli Writers Series.

View author/book details and watch past event videos of the 2022 Webinar Series: Europe's Jews before the Holocaust

Watch alumna Wendy Lower's book talk on her award-winning book, The Ravine: A Family, A Photograph, A Holocaust Massacre Revealed. 

Watch the 2020-21 Antisemitism Series, Antisemitism Since the Holocaust: Europe, Israel, and America

Photo at top of page: 1987 Freedom Sunday for Soviet Jews; courtesy of the American Jewish Historical Society.