Kutler Lectures: Gary P. Zola

by CJS


Gary P. Zola, American Jewish Archives (AJA) and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR

Event Details

“He Was Just Like One of Us – Lincoln and American Jewry”

Monday, November 3, 4:00 p.m.
Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery (330 N. Orchard St.)

Although countless volumes have been published on the life of Abraham Lincoln, relatively few people are aware of the remarkable history that links American Jewry and the sixteenth president. Professor Gary P. Zola of Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati – the only American Jewish historian to have served on the Academic Advisory Council of the congressionally recognized Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission in Washington, D.C. – recently completed a volume on Lincoln titled We Called Him Rabbi Abraham: Lincoln and American Jewry. Dr. Zola will reconstruct Lincoln’s relationship with American Jewry during the course of his lifetime and, also, he will explain how Lincoln became an immortal beau ideal and why generations of American Jews believe him to be an “almost chosen person.” Zola’s analysis of Lincoln’s historical image seeks to clarify why generations of American Jews have preferred to think of America’s “Father Abraham” as Judaism’s “Rabbi Abraham.”

“The Reform Jewish Impulse in America and in Germany: A Comparative Analysis”

Tuesday, November 4, 4:00 p.m.
Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery (330 N. Orchard St.)

In November 1824 — 190 years ago — the first organized effort to modernize Judaism in North America began to unfold.  This religious revolution took place in the Jewish community of Charleston, S.C. Dr. Zola will delineate the range factors that sparked this first effort to modernize Judaism.  He will also seek to compare and contrast the Reform impulse in Charleston to the reformation of Judaism which preceded it in Germany.  Were Charleston’s pioneers of Jewish Reform fundamentally striving to follow in the footsteps of their German predecessors, or were they essentially motivated by the unique circumstances they faced in the American republic?

This lecture is made possible through the generosity of Stanley and Sandra Kutler.

Listen to Lecture

This lecture will be available for download through iTunes U, approximately two weeks after the lecture date. Click here for more information.

About the Speaker

Gary P. Zola is the Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives (AJA) and Professor of the American Jewish Experience at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Cincinnati. Dr. Zola was ordained rabbi in 1982 from Hebrew Union College and was awarded his Doctor of Philosophy in American Jewish History in 1991. In his academic capacity, Professor Zola edits The Marcus Center’s award-winning biannual publication, The American Jewish Archives Journal—one of only two academic periodicals focusing on the total historical experience of American Jewry.

In April 2011 Dr. Zola was appointed by President Obama to the Commission for the Preservation of American Heritage Abroad. Dr. Zola is the first faculty member of Hebrew Union College to receive such an appointment by a U.S. president. In 2006 Dr. Zola became the first American Jewish historian and the first American rabbi to receive appointment to the Academic Advisory Council of the congressionally recognized Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.