Lila Corwin Berman
American Religious History and Modern Jewish History; Director, Feinstein Center for American Jewish History
I received my B.A. from Amherst College and my Ph.D. from Yale’s Department of Religious Studies, where I focused on American religious history and modern Jewish history. My research explores the construction of Jewishness as a political, religious, ethnic, class, and geographic marker in twentieth-century America. My first book, Speaking of Jews: Rabbis, Intellectuals, and the Creation of an American Public Identity (University of California Press, 2009), examines Jews’ efforts to explain themselves to non-Jews from the 1920s through the 1960s. The project was awarded recognition by the Center for Jewish History and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. I am currently working on a new book, tentatively called Exit City: Jews, Race, and the Politics of Migration that traces Jews’ journeys away from urban America in the postwar years. The book focuses in particular on Detroit and the ways that Jews remade their racial politics, communal identities, and spiritual lives as they left the city. I spent a fellowship year at the University of Michigan’s Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies doing research for this project. My articles have appeared in Jewish Social Studies, Religion and American Culture, American Jewish History, the Forward, and Sh'ma.