Prof. Jonathan Sarna ’75, MA ’75 (NEJS) will succeed Rabbi David Ellenson as director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies on Aug. 1, according to a March 26 BrandeisNOW article. 

Sarna, the Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun professor of American Jewish History and a former chair of the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies department, also serves as the chief historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History. He has written or edited more than 30 books and hundreds of articles in the field of American Jewish history, modern Judaism and Israel studies, according to the BrandeisNOW article. 

He was named University professor, the University’s highest academic title, in 2017.

Sarna will be replacing Ellenson, a scholar of modern Jewish history and theory, who was appointed director of the Schusterman Center in 2015. 

Sarna’s appointment coincides with both Schusterman’s 10th anniversary and several other promotions within the center; Rachel Fish, Ph.D. ’13, will be promoted to executive director, while Ohio State University professor Alexander Kaye has been appointed the Stoll Family Chair in Israel Studies, succeeding founding Schusterman Director Ilan Troen ’63. 

Additionally, the center is now home to a newly endowed Marash and Ocuin Chair in Ottoman, Mizrahi and Sephardic Jewish Studies, according to the same article. It will be awarded to a future tenure-track or tenured faculty member with expertise in the history and experience of Sephardic or Mizrahi Jews in Israel. A search to fill the chair will begin later this year.

“These appointments suggest a bright future of Israel studies at Brandeis. We are confident we will grow from strength to strength and hope that all of you are proud of what has been and will yet be accomplished,” University President Ron Liebowitz said at an event celebrating the center’s 10th anniversary, according to a second March 26 BrandeisNOW article. 

The Schusterman Center was established in 2007 through gifts from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and other donors. The center promotes scholarship in Israeli history, politics and culture and society, according to its website. 

“As my mother said at the Center’s dedication, ‘Israel’s past, present and future deserves a place in the academic world and Brandeis will be its standard bearer,’” Schusterman Family Foundation representative Stacy Schusterman said at the anniversary celebration, according to the second article. 

“The Schusterman Center is a hallmark of Brandeis and a key voice for scholarly research on Israel studies that is recognized and respected around the world,” Liebowitz said in the first article. “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.”

The Schusterman Center announced the three appointments at the anniversary celebration on Sunday, which featured keynote addresses from former United States Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro ’91 and Ben-Gurion University President Rivka Carmi. Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy was also in attendance on Sunday, delivering a city proclamation congratulating the Schusterman Center and the University.