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Standing Faculty

Beth S. Wenger

Professor of American Jewish History
Department Chair

Beth WengerBeth S. Wenger is Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania. Her most recent book is History Lessons: The Creation of American Jewish Heritage (Princeton University Press, 2010). She is also the author of New York Jews and the Great Depression: Uncertain Promise (Yale University Press, 1996), which was awarded the Salo Baron Prize in Jewish History from the American Academy of Jewish Research, as well as author of The Jewish Americans: Three Centuries of Jewish Voices in America (Doubleday Press, 2007), which was named a National Jewish Book Award finalist. The Jewish Americans is the companion volume to the six-hour PBS documentary of the same name, broadcast in January 2008. In addition to writing The Jewish Americans, Wenger served on the board of distinguished scholars advising the PBS series.

Beth Wenger is co-editor of Remembering the Lower East Side: American Jewish Reflections (Indiana University Press, 2000), As curator of a museum exhibition, in collaboration with Jeffrey Shandler, Wenger also co-authored the accompanying catalogue: “Holy Land:” Place, Past, and Future in American Jewish Culture (1997) that received honorable mention as one of the American Library Association's Exhibition Catalogue Awards for Excellence. Wenger has published numerous scholarly articles, including contributions to the journals American Jewish History, Jewish Social Studies, the Journal of Women's History as well as several essays in collected volumes and anthologies.

Wenger has been selected as a Distinguished Lecturer of the Organization of American Historians. She also received the 2008 Richard S. Dunn Award for Distinguished Teaching. Her teaching interests vary widely from broad surveys of modern European and American Jewish history, to courses on Holocaust memory, contemporary Jewish culture, American religious history, gender and Jewish history, as well as many other courses. A specialist in American Jewish history, Wenger's interests also include European Jewish culture, American religion and ethnicity, and cultural, social and gender history.

Beth Wenger currently serves as Chair of the Academic Council of the American Jewish Historical Society and is a former co-chair of the Jewish Women’s Caucus of the Association for Jewish Studies. She serves on the boards of the Association for Jewish Studies and the Center for Jewish History in New York, as well as on the academic advisory boards of Penn’s Hebert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies and the Jewish Women's Archive.

Wenger was one of a team of four historians who helped to create the core exhibition at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia and serves as historical consultant to the museum.

Beth Wenger received her Ph.D. from Yale University in 1992. She holds Masters Degrees in History from Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary as well as a Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University. In 1993, her doctoral dissertation was awarded the American Jewish History Center's Prize as the Best Doctoral Dissertation in American Jewish history. Wenger has been awarded several academic grants and fellowships, including a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies and fellowships at Princeton University 's Center for the Study of American Religion, the Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion at Yale University, and the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies of the University of Pennsylvania.

Courses Taught (As Schedule Allows)

For current course listings, consult the Course Directory.

History Lessons: The Creation of American Jewish Heritage The Jewish Americans: Three Centuries of Jewish Voices in America Remembering the Lower East Side: American Jewish Reflections Encounters with the 'Holy Land': Place, Past, and Future in American Jewish Culture New York Jews and the Great Depression: Uncertain Promise