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American JudaismAmerican Judaism

A History

Jonathan D. Sarna

Winner of the 2004 National Jewish Book Award

Narrated by Philip M. Leavitt

Available from Audible

Book published by Yale University Press

This magisterial work chronicles the 350-year history of the Jewish religion in America. Tracing American Judaism from its origins in the colonial era through the present day, Jonathan Sarna explores the ways in which Judaism adapted in this new context. How did American culture—predominantly Protestant and overwhelmingly capitalist—affect Jewish religion and culture? And how did American Jews shape their own communities and faith in the new world?

Jonathan Sarna, a preeminent scholar of American Judaism, tells the story of individuals struggling to remain Jewish while also becoming American. He offers a dynamic and timely history of assimilation and revitalization, of faith lost and faith regained.

The first comprehensive history of American Judaism in over fifty years, this book is both a celebration of 350 years of Jewish life in America and essential reading for anyone interested in American religion and life.

Winner of the 2004 National Jewish Book Award, offered by the Jewish Book Council. Selected by Choice as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2005. Won Honorable Mention for the 2004 Professional/Scholarly Publishing Division Annual Award Competition in the Religion category. Selected as a finalist for the 2005 Koret Jewish Book Awards in the History category. Selected by Publishers Weekly as a Best Book of 2004 in the Religion category. Co-winner of the American Jewish Historical Society's Saul Viener Prize for the Outstanding Book in American Jewish History, 2003-2004. Winner of the Weinberg Judaic Studies Institute 2005 Prize for Best Book in American Jewish Studies. Named a (2004) Los Angeles Times bestseller. Won Honorable Mention for the 2005 Independent Publisher Book Awards in the Religion Category. Received rating of "Outstanding" from members of the 2005 University Press Books Committee.

Jonathan D. Sarna is Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University, and chairs the Academic Board of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives. Author or editor of more than twenty books on American Jewish history and life, he is also the chief historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History and of the 350th commemoration of Jewish life in America, 1654-2004.


American Judaism provides a comprehensive and insightful portrait of the American Jewish experience. Sarna is magisterial as well as accessible in this work, and American Judaism will serve as the standard book in the field. American Judaism indicates why Sarna has earned his reputation as the premiere American Jewish historian of his generation!”

—David Ellenson, President Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion

“A masterfully contextualized synthesis with exactly the right focus, full of elegance, empathy and insight. ”

—DIsmar Schorsch, Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America

American Judaism is vitally important for anyone interested in the future of American Judaism.... The story flows easily; readers don’t need to be academics to enjoy this remarkable book.... This book is full of fascinating people and movements.”

—Ruth F. Brin, American Jewish World

“The first stop for scholars and students interested in exploring the religious dimensions of Jewish life in America.... A masterful overview.”

—Jeffrey S. Gurock, American Historical Review

“This book... belongs on the small shelf of outstanding books on American religion that have appeared over the past 15 years.... The breadth of scholarship displayed here is immense, yet the prose is accessible. The sources used, both literary and quantitative, are extensive.”

—Ronald Wells, Books & Culture

“From its colonial beginnings in New Amsterdam through the periods of the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Great Awakening, the Great War, and World War II to the present, Sarna richly details the diverse elements that have come together to chronicle and shape American Judaism.... Highly recommended.”


“American Judaism is a masterpiece, the product of decades of study and writing. It will be indispensable to anyone who cares about the topic.”

—David Gelernter, Commentary

“Sarna here presents a dynamic and ultimately optimistic view of American Judaism that traces the history of Jews from colonial days to the 21st century... His highly readable yet scholarly book includes a glossary of terms, timeline and lengthy notes. It will likely be considered the definitive text on the subject—for Jews and non-Jews alike.”

—Robin Galiano Russell, Dallas Morning News

“Sarna... has written the first systematic, comprehensive, and coherent history of Judaism in America; one so well executed, it is likely to set the standard for the next 50 years.”

—Jacob Neusner, Jerusalem Post

“Jonathan Sarna has given us a masterful gift to commemorate the 350th anniversary of Jewish settlement in America.... He writes in a style that brings his knowledge and ideas alive to a wide spectrum of readers, Jewish and non-Jewish, scholars and lay people. This book is destined to be the new classic of American Jewish history.”

—Norman H. Finkelstein, Jewish Book World

“Sarna never fails to contribute fresh and interesting insights... American Judaism is undoubtedly an original.... Sarna has written the first systematic, comprehensive and coherent history of Judaism in America—one so well executed, it is likely to set the standard for the next 50 years.”

—Jacob Neusner, Jewish Tribune

“[An] outstanding work.... Rich in details and insights, the book makes for lively, interesting reading.”

—Sandee Brawarsky, Jewish Week

“Written in a muscular lucid prose.... [This book] possesses in good measure the hallmark of good history, a seamless flowing narrative style, and insights that come only from someone who has thought long and hard about the material he is presenting.”

—Henry L. Feingold, Journal of American History

“[An] outstanding survey.... A sweeping overview of the trials, tribulations and triumphs of American Jews from 1654 to the present. Sarna writes in sprightly prose.... Sarna [is] one of the great deans of Amrerican Judaism.”

Publishers Weekly

“This long-needed volume weaves the complex history of American Jewish religious life into a graceful narrative that moves well beyond the intellectual constraints of earlier one-volume histories.... A much broader, more subtle, and more inclusive analysis of American Judaism than we have seen to date.”

—Dianne Ashton, Sh‚Äôma

American Judaism is a masterpiece.... Published so as to coincide with the 350th anniversary of American Jewry, this engaging tour-de-force narrates the history of Jews in America, commencing with their arrival in New Amsterdam in 1654. The work displays not only the historian's craft at its finest but demonstrates and draws upon Jonathan D. Sarna's extraordinary erudition, and the stunning scope of sources, evidence, and contemporary commentary under his command.... A brilliant, engaging, readable, profound, thoughtful, and provocative history of American Jewish group life. Its reading of American Jewish history provides the context and concepts by which to insightfully comprehend the American Jewish present and, perhaps, to think incisively about its future as well. The volume is a testimony to the historian's artistry at its best, and to the work of an extraordinary student of American Jewish history drawing upon decades of original scholarship.”

—Steven M. Cohen, Jewish Quarterly Review

“[A] powerful and time-tested organization of Jewish history.... Sarna [has] crafted powerful and compelling answers to address contemporary needs and crises.”

—Michael Alexander, The Jewish Quarterly Review


Colonial Beginnings

The Revolution in American Judaism

Union and Disunion

Two Worlds of American Judaism

An Anxious Subculture


American Judaism at a Crossroads

All titles are published by:
University Press Audiobooks
an imprint of Redwood Audiobooks

University Press Audiobooks