Beth S. Wenger

Jewish history (American and European), gender, ethnic and religious history
Moritz and Josephine Berg Professor of History; Department Chair
College Hall 320
Office Hours: 
TR 3-4
Teaching Schedule: 
TR 1:30-3
bwenger@sas.upenn.edu
215 898.5702

Beth S. Wenger is Moritz and Josephine Berg Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania where she serves as Chair of the History Department. Wenger’s most recent book is a co-edited anthology (with Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet), titled Gender in Judaism and Islam: Common Lives, Uncommon Heritage (New York University Press, 2014).  She is also the author of History Lessons: The Creation of American Jewish Heritage (Princeton University Press, 2010) and 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.  Her other books include The Jewish Americans: Three Centuries of Jewish Voices in America (Doubleday, 2007), companion volume to the 2008 PBS series, titled The Jewish Americans. In addition to writing The Jewish Americans, which was named a National Jewish Book Award finalist, Wenger served on the board of distinguished scholars advising the PBS series.

Wenger’s other co-edited collections include Remembering the Lower East Side: American Jewish Reflections (with Hasia Diner and Jeffrey Shandler) as well as the museum catalogue for the exhibition that she co-curated (with Jeffrey Shandler), titled Encounters with the “Holy Land:” Place, Past, and Future in American Jewish Culture. That catalogue 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 is a Fellow of the American Academy of Jewish Research and serves as Distinguished Lecturer for the OAH (Organization of American Historians) as well as for the Association for Jewish Studies.  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 Advisory Council of the Center for Jewish History in New York. She is a former Chair of the Academic Council of the American Jewish Historical Society, former Co-Chair of the Jewish Women’s Caucus of the Association for Jewish Studies, and former Director of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania—a position she held for seven years. She serves on the boards of the Academic Council of the American Jewish Historical Society 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 four founding historians who helped to create the core exhibition at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, and she continues to serve as historical consultant to the Museum.

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, the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan, and the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies of the University of Pennsylvania.

Wenger holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University, M.A.’s from Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Yale University.

Courses Taught: 
  • HIST 009 The Invention of Modern Judaism
  • HIST 141 History of Jewish Civilization III (Modern Period)
  • HIST 150 The American Jewish Experience
  • HIST 204 Memory and Meaning In Jewish History
  • HIST 204 Rereading the Holocaust
  • HIST 214 Jews and the City
  • HIST 610 Religion In American Culture
  • HIST 620 Readings In Modern Jewish History