Credit: Coming to America, 1952, Louis Stettner, © Louis Stettner Estate 2024
Reconsidering Jewish Migration to the United States: A Century of Controversy marks the 100th anniversary of the pivotal Johnson-Reed Immigration Act of 1924 by exploring a century of Jewish engagement with immigration at the national and international level. The symposium brings together nationally renowned scholars and experts to examine how the 1924 act restricted immigration from the interwar period to the 1960s, how Jews and other groups were affected, and how the liberalization of immigration law after the 1960s produced major demographic changes in the United States and set the stage for contemporary political controversies over the role of immigration in American life.
Tickets include lunch and a wine and cheese reception after the program. Speakers will be selling and signing books throughout the day.
The symposium is generously sponsored by the Selz Foundation, the David Berg Foundation, and supplemented by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council. The symposium is the fifth installment in a larger series of public symposia sponsored by the Center for Jewish History’s Jewish Public History Forum.
New York University
University of Michigan
Gustavus Adolphus College
University of Maryland
San Francisco State University
University of California, Santa Cruz
Kingsborough Community College/Graduate Center (CUNY)
University of Pennsylvania
President & CEO, HIAS
University of Pittsburgh
University of Pittsburgh
At the conclusion of the symposium, please join us for a wine and cheese reception to celebrate the opening of a related exhibition, Crossing the Ocean. Three Waves of German Jewish Immigration to the United States, presented by the Leo Baeck Institute. Based on personal accounts from the LBI Archives, this exhibition explores how the experience of German-speaking Jews coming to America changed between the 1840s and 1950s. It emphasizes the often-marginalized aspect of the migration history, the decision-making, and crossing the ocean in the search for a better life. While showing various aspects of the immigration process, the exhibition focuses on the role of transnational contacts between past and prospective immigrants.
Katherine Benton-Cohen is professor of history at Georgetown University. She is the author of Inventing the Immigration Problem: The Dillingham Commission and Its Legacy (Harvard 2018) and Borderline Americans: Racial Division and Labor War in the Arizona Borderlands (Harvard 2009). She served as historical advisor to the film Bisbee’17, a New York Times best film of the year in 2018. Benton-Cohen has held numerous national fellowships and has been a visiting scholar in Tokyo and Germany. She is currently writing a global history of the Phelps-Dodge copper-mining and family empire in New York, the US-Mexico Borderlands, and the Middle East.
Lila Corwin Berman holds the Murray Friedman Chair of American Jewish History at Temple University, where she directs the Feinstein Center for American Jewish History. Her most recent book, The American Jewish Philanthropic Complex: The History of a Multibillion-Dollar Institution, has been awarded prizes from the Organization of American Historians and the American Jewish Historical Society. Her articles have appeared in many scholarly publications, including the American Historical Review and the Journal of American History, and she has written guest columns for the Washington Post, the Forward, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. She is currently writing a book called “American Jewish Citizenship: An Untold History.”
Dr. Kathleen Blee is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh. She has studied U.S. extremist white supremacist and antisemitic groups for over forty years and has published nine books, including Out of Hiding: Extremist White Supremacism and How It Can be Stopped (2024, co-authored with Robert Futrell and Pete Simi), and over a hundred journal articles and book chapters. She has lectured extensively in the U.S and Europe, and has worked with multiple communities, public officials, media outlets, and educational and professional groups on the proliferation of organized hate.
Nathaniel Deutsch is Distinguished Professor of History and the Director of the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he holds the Baumgarten Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies. He has served as the Workmen's Circle/Dr. Emmanuel Patt Visiting Professor in Eastern European Jewish Studies at the YIVO Institute. Deutsch is the author of a number of books, including The Maiden of Ludmir: A Jewish Holy Woman and Her World ((The University of California Press), The Jewish Dark Continent: Life and Death in the Russian Pale of Settlement (Harvard University Press), for which he received a Guggenheim Fellowship, and, most recently, with Michael Casper, A Fortress in Brooklyn: Race, Real Estate, and the Making of Hasidic Williamsburg (Yale University Press), which has won a National Jewish Book Award, the Saul Viener Book Prize, and a Jordan Schnitzer Book Award.
Hasia Diner is Professor Emerita, New York University, where she directs the Goldstein-Goren Center for American Jewish History. A Guggenheim winner, she specializes in American Jewish history and broadly, immigration history. She co-authored Immigration: an American History (Yale 2022). Opening Doors: How the Unlikely Alliance Between Irish and Jews Changed America (St Martin’s 2024) is forthcoming in July. A past president of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society and former chair of the Academic Council of the American Jewish Historical Society, she was elected to the Society of American Historians and the American Academy for Jewish Research.
Dr. Marc Dollinger holds the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies and Social Responsibility at San Francisco State University. Professor Dollinger is author of four scholarly books in American Jewish history, most recently Black Power, Jewish Politics: Reinventing The Alliance in the 1960s.
Libby Garland is Professor of History at Kingsborough Community College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where she teaches courses on migration history, border studies, and urban studies. She is the author of After They Closed the Gates: Jewish Illegal Immigration to the United States, 1921-1965.
Mark Hetfield first joined HIAS (the Jewish community’s international refugee agency) in 1989 as a caseworker in Rome, Italy. He has worked for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a large law firm as an immigration attorney, and has held multiple roles at HIAS over the years. Mark was appointed President and CEO of HIAS in 2013. He is a frequent commentator and writer on refugee issues on television, radio, newspapers, and in other media. Mark holds both a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service and a Juris Doctor from Georgetown University, where he is also earning an MBA.
Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof is Professor of History at Harvard University. He is the author of A Tale of Two Cities: Santo Domingo and New York after 1950 and Racial Migrations: New York City and the Revolutionary Politics of the Spanish Caribbean (winner of the Theodore Saloutos Prize, co-winner of the Kenneth Jackson Prize) and the and co-editor and co-translator with Paulina Alberto and George Reid Andrews of Voices of the Race, Black Newspapers in Latin America, 1870-1960. He directed the Immigrant Justice Lab at the University of Michigan from 2017-2022, work that was recognized with an ACLS-Mellon Scholars-in-Society Fellowship in 2020-2021.
Madeline Y. Hsu teaches history and Asian American Studies at the University of Maryland where she is director of the Center for Global Migration Studies. Her award-winning books include Dreaming of Gold, Dreaming of Home: Transnationalism and Migration between the United States and South China, 1882-1943 (2000) and The Good Immigrants: How the Yellow Peril Became the Model Minority (2015). In 2016, she published Asian American History: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2016). She co-edited A Nation of Immigrants Reconsidered: U.S. Society in an Age of Restriction, 1924-1965 (2019) and Vol. II of the Cambridge History of Global Migrations (2023). Please visit her K-12 curriculum project [immigrationhistory.org]Teach Immigration History produced in collaboration with the Immigration and Ethnic History Society.
Shaul Kelner is Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and Sociology at Vanderbilt University. His new book, A Cold War Exodus: How American Activists Mobilized to Free Soviet Jews(NYU Press, 2024), will be published this Passover.
Rachel Kranson is the Director of Jewish Studies and Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Kranson is the co-editor of A Jewish Feminine Mystique: Jewish Women in Postwar America(2010, National Jewish Book Award Finalist) and author of Ambivalent Embrace: Jewish Upward Mobility in Postwar America (2017, First Book Award Finalist, Immigration and Ethnic History Society). In the Spring 2024 semester, she is serving as a scholar-in-residence at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute.
Jana K. Lipman is Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of In Camps: Vietnamese Refugees, Asylum Seekers, and Repatriates (UC Press, 2020), Guantanamo: A Working-Class History between Empire and Revolution (UC Press, 2009), co-translator of Ship of Fate: Memoir of a Vietnamese Repatriate by Trần Đình Trụ (University of Hawaii Press, 2017), and co-editor of Making the Empire Work: Labor and U.S. Imperialism (NYU Press, 2015). She was a Fulbright Scholar at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna in 2022.
Mireya Loza is an Associate Professor in the Department of History and the American Studies Program at Georgetown University. Her areas of research include Immigration History and Labor History. Her book, Defiant Braceros: How Migrant Workers Fought for Racial, Sexual and Political Freedom (UNC Press), examines America’s largest guest worker program. Her first book won the 2017 Theodore Saloutos Book Prize awarded by the Immigration and Ethnic History Society and the Smithsonian Secretary’s Research Prize. Her research has been funded by the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Smithsonian Institution’s Latino Center.
Maddalena Marinari teaches U.S. history at Gustavus Adolphus College. She has published extensively on immigration restriction and immigrant mobilization. She is the author of Unwanted: Italian and Jewish Mobilization Against Restrictive Immigration Laws, 1882-1965 and a co-editor of three edited volumes on different aspects of US immigration in the twentieth century. Along with Erika Lee, she has also co-edited a special issue of the Journal of American History on the hundredth anniversary of the passage of the Emergency Quota Act of 1921 and the Immigration Act of 1924. She is the president elect of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society.
Deborah Dash Moore is Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor of History and Professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. She specializes in twentieth century urban Jewish history. Her recent book, Walkers in the City: Jewish Street Photographers of Mid-Century New York (2023) won a National Jewish Book Award in American Jewish Studies. Currently she serves as editor in chief of The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, a ten-volume anthology of original sources translated into English from the biblical period to 2005, selected by leading scholars.
Mae Ngai is Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies and professor of history at Columbia University. She is author of Impossible Subjects (2004), The Lucky Ones (2010), and The Chinese Question (2021), which won the Bancroft prize. She writes on immigration and Asian American issues for the New York Times, The Atlantic, Dissent, and other publications. Ngai is now completing Nation of Immigrants: A Short History of an Idea.
Beth S. Wenger is Moritz and Josephine Berg Professor of History and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in the School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of History Lessons: The Creation of American Jewish Heritage; New York Jews and the Great Depression: Uncertain Promise, and The Jewish Americans: Three Centuries of Jewish Voices in America. Wenger has worked on numerous public history projects, including museum exhibitions and documentary films.
In person: $36 general; $28 members
Zoom livestream: Pay what you wish