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Sarna named director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis

Journal Correspondent

Professor Jonathan Sarna. Photo: Mike Lovett/Courtesy Brandeis University

MARCH 29, 2018 – WALTHAM – Noted Brandeis University Professor Jonathan Sarna has been appointed the new director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, a research center at the university. The appointment was announced earlier this week by Brandeis University President Ron Liebowitz during a two-day conference celebrating the center’s 10th anniversary.

The conference featured talks by former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro, and Ben-Gurion University President Rivka Carmi.

“The Schusterman Center is … a key voice for scholarly research on Israel studies that is recognized and respected around the world,” Liebowitz said in a statement. “As we celebrate the Schusterman Center’s 10th anniversary, we look to its future and the unique role it will play in advancing fields of study, unlocking new frontiers and making Brandeis a premier academic global leader.”

Professor David Ellenson

Sarna, a preeminent scholar on American Jewish history, modern Judaism and Israel studies is the Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History and a three-time chair of the Near Eastern and Judaic studies department at Brandeis. In 2017, he was promoted to University Professor, the highest academic title at the school, a liberal arts research university founded in 1948 as a non-sectarian college with roots in the Jewish community. He will succeed David Ellenson, an acclaimed scholar of modern Jewish thought and history.

In addition to Sarna, two other faculty appointments were announced. Rachel Fish will be promoted to executive director of the center and assistant professor Alexander Kaye has been appointed to the Stoll Family Chair in Israel Studies, succeeding founding Schusterman Center director Ilan Troen. The university also created an endowed chair in Ottoman, Mizrahi and Sephardic Jewish studies.

The Schusterman Center was established at Brandeis in 2007 by gifts from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and other donors, according to the Brandeis statement.

“We are grateful for David Ellenson’s stewardship of the Schusterman Center and congratulate Professors Sarna, Fish and Kaye on their new appointments,” said Stacy Schusterman, Co-Chair, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. “Our family has long envisioned Brandeis as a leading university where students and scholars can learn about modern Israel. We know the center’s new leadership will build on the accomplishments of its first decade to fully realize this vision and expand the reach and impact of Israel studies at Brandeis and beyond.”

The author of more than 30 books and hundreds of academic studies, Sarna is the chief historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. He is well known beyond academic circles as an engaging and witty speaker who has often crisscrossed the country to give talks in synagogues, Jewish community centers and museums. He’s also has appeared in documentary films and in the public television series “The Jewish Americans.”

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