Sarna elected as president of AJS
Prof. Jonathan D. Sarna '75 (NEJS) was elected president of the Association of Jewish Studies at its 45th annual December conference in Boston.
The Association of Jewish Studies elects its presidents every two years, according to the association's website. Candidates are nominated by a committee on the board of directors, and are then put to a vote among the association's members.
Sarna wrote in an email to the Justice that he is "deeply honored to have been elected." Previously, Sarna served as a board member of the Association and, most recently, its secretary-treasurer.
Sarna stated that he views himself as the "John Quincy Adams" of the organization; this is due to the fact that his father, Nahum Sarna, was president of the organization from 1984 to 1985, according to a BrandeisNOW article published on Jan. 6. Nahum Sarna was a professor at Brandeis from 1965 to 1985.
Sarna wrote that he recalls his father's "high scholarly standards" and "devotion to the Association for Jewish Studies," and that this influenced his previous involvement in AJS. He has been a part of the organization since he was a graduate student, which, according to Sarna, means that he has been involved for nearly 40 years.
In the BrandeisNOW article, Brandeis University Provost Steve Goldstein '78 expressed pride at the role Brandeis played in "the creation and nurturing of the field of Jewish Studies in the United States;" he noted the contributions of the faculty members who "served the profession in this role." Goldstein also stated that Sarna's "scholarly contributions and international stature are valued both by Brandeis and the Association."
According to his biography on the department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies' website, Sarna earned his undergraduate degree in Judaic Studies and History from Brandeis, and his doctoral degree in history from Yale University. He taught at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati until 1990, as well as at Yale University, the University of Cincinnati and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Sarna came to Brandeis in 1990 to join the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies department, and has since served as the department's chair twice.
The Association of Jewish Studies was founded at Brandeis in 1969 by "a small group of scholars seeking a forum for exploring methodological and pedagogical issues in the new field of Jewish Studies," according to the association's website. The organization's 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." It has more than 1,800 members, including "university faculty, graduate students, independent scholars and museum and related professionals who represent the breadth of Jewish Studies scholarship."