ASP Honors JAHM: North American Jewish Studies Series Highlight

In celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month, we’ll be highlighting some of our books that explore the Jewish American experience and celebrate the historical, cultural, and political achievements of Jewish Americans in American society. Below, we highlight the our North American Jewish Studies Series and compile a reading list of a few of its titles that focus specifically on Jewish history and culture in the the United States.

North American Jewish Studies Series Highlight

About the Series: In the contemporary world, North America (inclusive of the United States and Canada) stands together with Israel as one of the two greatest and most culturally creative Jewish communities. “North American Jewish Studies” seeks to publish books that explore a wide spectrum of topics related to the life, politics, religion, and culture of this diverse and vibrant community. It does so from a variety of methodological perspectives, including history, literature, anthropology, and religious studies.

Series Editor: Ira Robinson (Concordia University)


Reading List of NAJS Titles that Center on the Jewish American Experience

Jews and American Public Life: Essays on American Jewish History and Politics

David G. Dalin
Foreword by Jonathan D. Sarna

Over forty years, David G. Dalin has written extensively on the role of American Jews in politics and public life. Here gathered together for the first time are sixteen of those articles about American Jews who have left their mark on politics, government, philanthropy, intellectual life and even sports.

“David G. Dalin is one of the leading experts on the history of Jewish involvement in American politics. This wonderful collection constitutes a bouquet of Dalin’s most fascinating and readable essays on the role that Jews have played in American political and public life. The book touches upon a broad range of captivating subjects—including intriguing studies such as ‘Jews and the Founding Fathers,’ ‘American Jews and the Church-State Debate,’ and ‘the historical significance of Sandy Koufax’s brief but dazzling career.’ This learned and lucid volume will unquestionably capture the interest of academics and general readers alike.”

— Gary P. Zola, Executive Director of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives and the Edward M. Ackerman Family Distinguished Professor of the American Jewish Experience at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion


This Was America, 1865-1965: Unequal Citizens in the Segregated Republic

Gerd Korman

By examining Jewish experiences between the American Civil War and the African American Civil Rights Revolution, this book focuses on citizens who usually spent their daily lives in black and white “peoplehoods.”

This Was America is a magisterial work of history. Focusing mainly upon barriers facing Blacks and Jews in the ‘public square’ of American life, but relevant as well to the flood of immigrants whose ethnicity clashed with nationalistic notions of what citizenry entailed, Gerd Korman brilliantly guides us through a century of conflict and segregation, promises made and broken, laws enacted and ignored. It’s a history involving activists and intellectuals, progressives and demagogues, as our nation moves haltingly in the direction of our better angels. Elegantly written, exhaustively researched, it will soon take its place on the bookshelves of ‘must’ reads for understanding the American experience.”

— David Oshinsky, Director of Medical Humanities, NYU Langone Health; Winner, Pulitzer Prize for History, 2006


In this memoir, Waldoff searches into his Russian–Jewish parents’ experience and that of the Jewish community in Hattiesburg from the 1920s through the 1960s, revealing times of acceptance and prosperity, but also of fears of anti-Semitism when a Jew is convicted of murder and fears of Klan violence when a rabbi speaks out against segregation.

“Not every Jewish immigrant from Russia and Eastern Europe who landed at Ellis Island ended up in Brooklyn or the Lower East Side. Some of them reached such unlikely destinations as the chicken farms of Petaluma and the frozen wastes of North Dakota. Relatively few of them, however, tried to make a new life in the heart of the Deep South. A Story of Jewish Experience in Mississippi by Leon Waldoff is a heartfelt but also meticulously researched and deeply insightful account of one family that did. … Not until he undertook the research for his book did Waldoff fully understand the unspoken rules that governed race relations in the Deep South. … To his great credit, Waldoff suggests throughout his affecting book that the Jews in Mississippi and elsewhere in the Deep South could have and should have recognized their common cause with their black neighbors far sooner than they did. And yet, to the credit of the Jewish leaders and activists that he also writes about, Waldoff demonstrates that the Jewish community, once roused to action, joined the struggle with strength and good courage.”

— Jonathan Kirsch, the Jewish Journal


Conversations with Colleagues: On Becoming an American Jewish Historian

Edited by Jeffrey S. Gurock

Sixteen senior scholars of American Jewish history converse on the intellectual and personals roads they have traveled in becoming leaders in their areas of expertise. They also imagine and chart the direction the writing on American Jews will take in the coming era.

“While all of the scholars assembled in this volume are well known for their intellectual perspicacity, their essays here shine light on the humanness of the scholar—the struggles and triumphs each experienced as children, young adults, students, and beyond. In many ways a coming-of-age story narrated by multiple voices, Conversations with Colleagues offers an unprecedented exploration of the evolution and structure of American Jewish history as a field. Jeffrey Gurock’s excellent introduction serves as a guide, enabling the reader to see how each of the scholars fits into a broader set of questions about the organization of intellectual knowledge and its connection to the human beings who create those schemes of organization. Those of us in the field undoubtedly will feel humility and gratitude as we read these pieces; and for those outside of the field, whether historians, scholars, or, simply, readers, the same stories will resonate for their warmth, intelligence, humor, and remarkable self-understanding.”

— Lila Corwin Berman, Murray Friedman Chair of American Jewish History, Director of the Feinstein Center for American Jewish History, Temple University

Academic Studies Press books are available wherever you buy books. We highly recommend purchasing any of these books directly from your local, independent bookstore or through, an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores.