Historian Jonathan Sarna Hospitalized in Critical Condition

The Brandies professor, known for his works on Jewish history, collapses while visiting Yale for daughter's graduation.

The Forward
Josh Nathan-Kazis
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Jonathan Sarna. Courtesy of Brandeis University/The Forward
Jonathan Sarna. Courtesy of Brandeis University/The Forward
The Forward
Josh Nathan-Kazis

Jonathan Sarna, a leading scholar of American Jewish history and a professor at Brandeis University, is in critical condition at Yale New Haven hospital, the hospital confirmed.

The scholar was at his daughter’s graduation ceremony at Yale University when he became ill, according to Jon Levisohn, a professor at Brandeis.

“It’s a serious situation, but we are all hoping for the best,” said Sylvia Barack Fishman, also a professor at Brandeis.

Sarna, 59, a contributing editor and columnist at the Forward, is the author, most recently, of “When General Grant Expelled the Jews” (Schocken, 2012), a National Jewish Book Award finalist. He has written and edited over two dozen volumes on American Jews and the American Jewish community.

Details of Sarna’s illness were unavailable. Family members could not be immediately reached.

Fishman said that the family has requested that good wishes be mailed to their home in lieu of calls or emails.

Sarna has taught at Brandeis University since 1990. He has also been a professor at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, among other schools. He is the chief historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History, a past winner of the National Jewish Book Award, has been listed on the Forward’s annual list of the 50 most influential American Jews, and is regularly quoted in the Jewish press.

Sarna’s father, Nahum Sarna, was a prominent biblical scholar, writer and teacher.

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