Jonathan Sarna Collapses in New Haven on Visit to Daughter's Yale Graduation

Jewish Historian Remains Hospitalized in Critical Condition

brandeis u.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published May 21, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

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

The scholar was visiting New Haven for 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.

Bill Schaller, a Brandeis spokesman, told the Boston Globe that Sarna had been “at his daughter’s commencement ceremony at Yale when he was stricken.”

Schaller told the paper in an email that he had no information on the precise nature of Sarna’s illness.

“Out of respect for his family during this difficult time, his colleagues and friends are waiting until his family reaches out to inform us about his condition,” Schaller wrote. “Everyone is very concerned about Professor Sarna and our thoughts and prayers are with him.”

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.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • The Cossacks were a feature in every European Jewish kid's worst nightmare. Tuvia Tenenbom went looking for the real-life variety in Ukraine — but you won't believe what he found. http://forward.com/articles/202181/my-hunt-for-the-cossacks-in-ukraine/?
  • French Jews were stunned when an anti-Israel mob besieged a synagogue outside Paris. What happened next could be a historic turning point.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.