I came to study American Jews through urban history. I fell in love with the history of New York City, where I grew up and raised my children. For most of the 20th century, Jews were the largest single ethnic group in New York, albeit not the largest religious group. (Catholics claim that status.) 

Three of my monographs form a trilogy, something I discovered only after finishing the third and middle volume. The books move from studying second generation New York Jews between 1920 and 1940 to examining the lives of Jewish American soldiers in World War II and culminating in a history of migration that carried big city Jews to Miami and Los Angeles after the war. In those far less dense urban milieus, third generation Jews fashioned new forms of Jewish culture.


My book, GI Jews: How World War II Changed a Generation (2004) served as the basis for a documentary, “GI Jews: Jewish Americans in World War II released in 2018.

I have also written an interpretive account exploring the formative encounter of Jews and American cities in the Urban Origins of American Judaism (2014), and a comprehensive history of New York Jews, Jewish New York: The Remarkable Story of a People and a City (2017). “This is the best kind of popular history: one that does not sacrifice nuance or detail for accessibility.” (STARRED Publishers Weekly





My scholarship includes editorial work, bringing authors together to explore multiple facets of keys issues. In the last dozen years, I have edited or co-edited volumes that investigate the identity politics of American Jews, the power of numbers in contemporary Jewish life, and perspectives on gender and Jewish history, the latter paying tribute to the pioneering scholarship of Paula Hyman. “Owing to the calibre of its scholarship and the fact that it brings together important work by scholars of European and American Jewish history, literature, culture, religious studies, and Holocaust studies, this book is unquestionably the most significant volume on the topic to appear in English in over a decade.11.3 2012” (Journal of Modern Jewish Studies)












For my short form writing—scholarly articles, essays, commentary, reviews—see my page,