New York City has been home to more Jews than any other city in the United States. For a significant stretch of time in the 20th century, Jews were New York City's largest ethnic group. And no city in the U.S. is more closely associated with Jews than New York. Observers from all walks of life - from poets to politicians - have considered New York a "Jewish city."

How have the Jews impacted New York City, and how has the city impacted the Jews?

Symposium: Sunday, April 29, 2012 (click here to view video of the Symposium)
Exhibition on view March 15 – January 30, 2013

Over their centuries-long relationship with New York City, Jews have carved out a multitude of public and private spaces as their own, including neighborhood streets, businesses, synagogues and tenement apartments, as well as the temporarily-Jewish stadiums, squares and concert halls that served as venues for special events. Come discover the various identities of New York Jews (from the years 1700 – 2012) by exploring the spaces that they have created for themselves. Learn how Jews have shaped New York, how the largest city in the U.S. has molded the Jews, and what Jewish spaces in the city can teach us about the many varieties of "New York Jews" who have lived here.

This exhibition, presented in partnership with the American Jewish Historical Society, incorporates historical artifacts and interactive media. It is part of the Center's Documenting America Initiative and has been made possible by The David Berg Foundation with additional support from The Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, The Kumble Cultural Fund and The Selz Family Cultural Fund.
Click here for video of the Symposium.

Part I: City of Promises 11:00am-12:00pm

Introduction: Judith C. Siegel, Director of Academic and Public Programs, CJH

Deborah Dash Moore | University of Michigan, Editor, City of Promises, a 3-volume history of Jews and New York City (forthcoming September 2012, NYU Press)
Howard Rock | Florida International University, author, Volume 1, City of Promises

Coffee Break 12:00pm-12:30pm
Sponsored by New York University Press, publisher of City of Promises

Part II: Symposium 12:30pm-6:00pm

Welcome: Judith C. Siegel, Director of Academic and Public Programs, CJH

Introductions: (12:30pm–1:00pm)
Hasia Diner | NYU
Tony Michels | University of Wisconsin
co-conveners of the Symposium and the Center's Scholars Working Group on New York City and the Jews

Session 1: New York City, the Jews and the Atlantic World, the Colonial Period to 1820 (1:00pm–2:15pm)

Moderator: David Sorkin | CUNY

John Dixon | College of Staten Island, CUNY
Adam Mendelssohn | College of Charleston
Hilit Surowitz-Israel | University of Florida

Session 2: The Great Jewish Migration & New York City in the Long 19th Century, 1820 to 1924 (2:15pm–3:30pm)

Moderator: Daniel Soyer | Fordham University

Richard Greenwald | St. Joseph's College, Brooklyn
Annie Polland | Lower East Side Tenement Museum
Lara Vapnek, St. John's University

Coffee Break 3:30pm-3:45pm

Session 3: The Promised City? 1924 to Present (3:45pm–5:00pm)

Moderator: David Kaufman | Hofstra University

Jeffrey Gurock | Yeshiva University
Jonathan Karp | Binghamton University, SUNY, and American Jewish Historical Society
Nancy Sinkoff | Rutgers University

Conclusions/New Directions (5:00pm–6:00pm)
Nancy Foner | The Graduate Center, CUNY

Admission: $20 general; $15 CJH and AJHS members; $8 students and seniors.
For reservations, please call SmartTix at 212-868-4444 or visit

Symposium presented by the Center for Jewish History, the American Jewish Historical Society and the Center's Scholars Working Group on New York City and the Jews in collaboration with the Goldstein-Goren Institute at NYU.

Speaker Bios

Deborah Dash Moore is Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor of History at the University of Michigan and Director of the Jean and Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies. An historian of American Jews, she focuses on the 20th century and the urban experience. Most recently she edited with Marion Kaplan, Gender and Jewish History (2010), a collection of essays in honor of Paula Hyman that won a National Jewish Book Award. She is general editor of City of Promises, a three-volume history of Jews in New York City that will appear in September 2012.

Speaker Bios

Hasia Diner is the Paul S. and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History at New York University as well as the director of the Goldstein-Goren Center for American Jewish History. She is the author of numerous books in American Jewish and immigration history including Lower East Side Memories: The Jewish Place in America (Princeton University Press), The Jews of the United States, 1654-Present (University of California Press) and most recently, We Remember with Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence After the Holocaust (NYU Press) which won the National Jewish Book Award and the Saul Viener Prize of the American Jewish Historical Society.

Speaker Bios

Tony Michels is the George L. Mosse Associate Professor of American Jewish History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Michels is author of A Fire in Their Hearts: Yiddish Socialists in New York (Harvard Univ. Press) and editor of Jewish Radicals: A Documentary History (forthcoming, New York Univ. Press).

Speaker Bios

David Sorkin is Distinguished Professor of History and Director of the Center for Jewish Studies at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He is the author of Moses Mendelssohn and the Religious Enlightenment (Peter Halban, 2004), The Berlin Haskalah and German Religious Thought (Valentine Mitchell, 1999) and The Religious Enlightenment: Protestants, Jews and Catholics from London to Vienna (Princeton, 2011).

Speaker Bios

John Dixon is Assistant Professor of History at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York, and former associate editor of the Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers. He previously taught history at the University of California, California State University, and Whittier College, Los Angeles. He is currently completing a book on intellectual culture in 18th-century New York.

Speaker Bios

Adam Mendelsohn is Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies at the College of Charleston. He received his Ph.D. in American Jewish history from Brandeis University. In 2008-9 he was a Fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently working on a book about Jewish involvement in the second-hand clothing trade (the 'shmatta business') in the United States and the British Empire in the 19th century. His book Jews and the Civil War, co-edited with Jonathan Sarna, was published by New York University Press in May 2010.

Speaker Bios

Daniel Soyer teaches history at Fordham University. With Annie Polland he is author of The Emerging Metropolis: New York Jews in the Era of Immigration, 1840-1920 (New York University Press, 2012).

Speaker Bios

Richard Greenwald, a professor of history and sociology, is Dean at St. Joseph's College in New York. He is the author of The Triangle Fire, the Protocols of Peace and Industrial Democracy in Progressive Era New York, co-editor of Sweatshop USA: The American Sweatshop in Historical and Global Perspective, and a co-editor of a collection of essays on the future of work in America entitled Labor Rising: The Past and Future of the American Working Class (2012).

Speaker Bios

Annie Polland is the Vice President for Education at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. With Daniel Soyer she is the author of The Emerging Metropolis: New York Jews in the Era of Immigration, 1840-1920 (New York University Press, 2012).

Speaker Bios

Lara Vapnek is Associate Professor of History at St. John's University. She earned her doctorate at Columbia University. Her recent book, Breadwinners: Working Women and Economic Independence, 1865-1920 (University of Illinois Press, 2009) shows how female wage earners pursued equality by claiming new identities as citizens and as workers. A related essay appears in No Permanent Waves: Recasting Histories of U.S. Feminism, a new anthology edited by Nancy Hewitt (Rutgers University Press, 2010). She has received research support from the Schlesinger Library; she is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians.

Speaker Bios

David E. Kaufman is Associate Professor of Religion and the Robert & Florence Kaufman Chair in Jewish Studies at Hofstra University. He is the author of Shul with a Pool, a history of the Synagogue-Center movement in early 20th-century America, and the forthcoming Jewhooing the Sixties: American Celebrity and Jewish Identity (UPNE, 2012).

Speaker Bios

Jeffrey S. Gurock is Libby M. Klaperman Professor of Jewish History at Yeshiva University and former chair, Academic Council, AJHS. His most recent work is Jews in Gotham: N.Y. Jews and their Changing City, 1920-2010, part of the City of Promises series to be published in September, 2012 by NYU Press.

Speaker Bios

Jonathan Karp is Executive Director of the American Jewish Historical Society and Associate Professor of History at Binghamton University, SUNY. His books are The Politics of Jewish Commerce: Economic Thought and Emancipation in Europe (Cambridge, 2008) and Philosemitism in History, co-edited with Adam Sutcliffe (Cambridge, 2011).

Speaker Bios

Nancy Sinkoff is Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and History and Chair of the Department of Jewish Studies at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. This term she has been a fellow at the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. Her books include Out of the Shtetl: Making Jews Modern in the Polish Borderlands (Brown Judaic Studies, 2004). She is at work on a political biography of Lucy S. Dawidowicz, entitled 'Last Witness': Lucy S. Dawidowicz, the New York Intellectuals, and the Politics of Jewish History.

Speaker Bios

Nancy Foner is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center. Foner is the author or editor of 14 books, including From Ellis Island to JFK: New York's Two Great Waves of Immigration (Yale University Press, 2000), In a New Land: A Comparative View of Immigration (NYU Press, 2005), and Across Generations: Immigrant Families in America (NYU Press, 2009). The recipient of numerous honors, she received the 2010 Distinguished Career Award from the International Migration Section of the American Sociological Association and in 2011 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Speaker Bios

Howard B. Rock is Professor of History, Emeritus, at Florida International University where he taught for 35 years and served as Chair of the History Department, Faculty Senate and on the Board of Trustees. He is the author and/or editor of five books. His first was Artisans of the New Republic: The Tradesmen of New York City in the age of Jefferson (NYU Press, 1979) and his most recent, written with Deborah Dash Moore, is Cityscapes: A History of New York in Images (Columbia, 2001). In September, NYU Press will publish his new book, as part of the City of Promises set, Haven of Liberty: New York Jews in the New World, 1654-1865.

Speaker Bios

Hilit Surowitz-Israel is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Religion at the University of Florida, where she plans to defend her dissertation 'A Nação': Reconstructing Religious Identity in the Early Modern Atlantic World, in the coming weeks. She is also an Instructor in the Jewish Studies Department at Rutgers University. Her research interests include religion in the Americas, the Jewish communities of the Atlantic World, and diaspora theory.