Rubin Presidential Chair of Jewish History and Director of Jewish Studies Program
Trachtenberg can comment on the Holocaust and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as a range of issues facing Jews worldwide.
A leading scholar of Jewish history, Barry Trachtenberg can comment on the Holocaust and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as a range of other issues facing Jewish people around the world. For more than 20 years, his research and teaching have focused on the complexities of and controversies in American Jewish history; the Holocaust; Zionism,… Read More »
A leading scholar of Jewish history, Barry Trachtenberg can comment on the Holocaust and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as a range of other issues facing Jewish people around the world. For more than 20 years, his research and teaching have focused on the complexities of and controversies in American Jewish history; the Holocaust; Zionism, Israel and Palestine; and modern Yiddish culture.
Trachtenberg’s most recent book, “The Holocaust and the Exile of Yiddish: A History of the Algemeyne Entsiklopedye” (Rutgers University Press, 2022), demonstrates how Yiddish cultural and intellectual activists responded to the hopes, traumas and triumphs of the middle decades of the 20th century when they went from achieving their greatest accomplishments to suffering their most profound losses, and then sought to chart a new path forward to the future. “The Holocaust & the Exile of Yiddish” (Rutgers University Press, 2022) tells a story of the tenacity of a culture that is all too often spoken of in terms of its fragility.
Trachtenberg is the author of two additional books. The United States and the Holocaust: Race, Refuge, and Remembrance (Bloomsbury Press, 2018) brings students of the Holocaust a new understanding of this complex and often controversial topic. It demonstrates that the United States’s response to the Holocaust was (and remains) intricately linked to the ever-shifting racial, economic, and social status of American Jewry. The Revolutionary Roots of Modern Yiddish, 1903-1917 (Syracuse University Press, 2008) examines the impact of the 1905 Russian Revolution on the formation of Yiddish scholarship.
Along with being a member of the Wake Forest program in Jewish Studies, Trachtenberg serves on the Board of Scholars of Facing History and Ourselves. For six years he was a member of the Academic Council of the Holocaust Educational Foundation of Northwestern University and regularly teaches in its summer program on the Holocaust and Jewish Civilization. He is a member of the Academic Advisory Board of Jewish Voice for Peace. He writes occasional pieces and lecture on the topics of Zionism, antisemitism, and US support for Israel. These have appeared in forums such as Jewish Currents, Forward, Tablet, Electronic Intifada, Mondoweiss, Die Tageszeitung (German), A2larm(Czech), and La Razón (Spanish). He has appeared on the BBC, Al-Jazeera, Upfront with Marc Lamont Hill, as well as local television and radio shows.
February 27, 2020
“The journey of the MS St. Louis lasted only a period of a few weeks, and yet for many, it has come to symbolize American indifference to the desperation of German Jews seeking safety from Nazi oppression. According to the standard telling, a ship of German Jewish refugees arrived in the United States after being denied entry to Cuba, its initial destination. Rather than allow the passengers to enter the country and find safety from Nazi persecution, President Franklin D. Roosevelt cruelly turned the ship away. Out of options, the St. Louis returned to Europe and soon thereafter, its passengers, abandoned to their fate, died in the Holocaust. This account, with occasional variations, is frequently evoked in discussions of how the United States responded to the Nazi Holocaust.”
Areas of Expertise
- American Jewish history
- immigration policy and Judaism
- Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
- Jewish identity and culture
- The Holocaust
- Yiddish culture and language
University of California, Los Angeles: Ph.D., History
Oxford University: Post-Graduate Diploma, Jewish Studies
The University of Vermont: M.A., History
Glassboro State College (Now Rowan University of New Jersey): B.A., EnglishContact
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