Kutler Lecture: “Civics Lessons: Jews and American National Holidays”

by CJS


Beth Wenger, University of Pennsylvania

Event Details

Monday, November 12, 7:00 p.m.
Union South (TITU), 1308 Dayton Street

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.


When they participated in national celebrations such as July Fourth and Thanksgiving, Jews declared their allegiance to the United States while also expressing their vision of what the nation should be.  America’s Jews seized these public moments as occasions to write themselves into the narratives of American history, and to make themselves and their culture pivotal actors in the creation of the nation. As they publicly celebrated American holidays and heroes, Jews in the United States reinvented their collective past, crafting a new script about Jewish history uniquely tailored to the needs and aspirations of American Jews.

About the Speaker

Beth S. Wenger is Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, where she serves as Chair of the History Department and Director of the Jewish Studies Program. Her most recent book is History Lessons: The Creation of American Jewish Heritage (Princeton University Press, 2010).  Wenger is also the author of the National Jewish Book Award finalist The Jewish Americans: Three Centuries of Jewish Voices in America (Doubleday, 2007), the companion volume to the 2008 PBS series The Jewish Americans. Her first book New York Jews and the Great Depression: Uncertain Promise (Yale University Press, 1996), was awarded the Salo Baron Prize in Jewish History by the American Academy of Jewish Research. At Penn, she received the 2008 Richard Dunn Award for Distinguished Teaching. Wenger’s co-edited collections include Remembering the Lower East Side: American Jewish Reflections, as well as the museum catalog Encounters with the “Holy Land”: Place, Past, and Future in American Jewish Culture. That catalog received honorable mention as one of the American Library Association’s Exhibition Catalogue Awards for Excellence.

Beth Wenger is Chair of the Academic Council of the American Jewish Historical Society, and serves as historical consultant to the National Museum of American Jewish History and on the academic boards of the Center for Jewish History and the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. She is also a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians and the Association for Jewish Studies. She 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.