Nancy Sinkoff, a professor of Jewish studies and history at Rutgers University, has been appointed academic director of the Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life effective July 1.

The Bildner Center’s global stature is due in large measure to Yael Zerubavel, a professor of Jewish studies and history, and the Center’s founding director. Zerubavel is retiring at the end of the academic year after developing the Center and the Department of Jewish Studies, for which she was the founding chair, into the world-class centers of learning that they are today.

Professor Sinkoff, currently the director of the Center for European Studies, has been at Rutgers since 1998 and was the first faculty member to join the Department of Jewish Studies. The broad range of her scholarship and creative vision make her the perfect choice to lead the Bildner Center.

Sinkoff’s interests include early modern and modern Jewish history with a focus on East European Jewish intellectual history, the Enlightenment, politics, and gender. Her publications include Out of the Shtetl: Making Jews Modern in the Polish Borderlands, a co-edited volume with Rebecca Cypess, Sara Levy’s World: Gender, Judaism, and the Bach Tradition in Enlightenment Berlin, and a forthcoming biography of Lucy S. Dawidowicz, From Left to Right: Lucy S. Dawidowicz, the New York Intellectuals, and the Politics of Jewish History. She has lectured widely in Europe, Israel, and the United States. In addition, Sinkoff has long devoted herself to bringing ideas and information to the public--through adult education, public television and radio programming, and community lectures. The subject of her first book is featured in the “Encounters with Modernity” exhibition in Polin: Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw.

Established in 1996, the Bildner Center is both an essential institution of the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers and an invaluable public resource with national and international reach. It connects the university with the community through public lectures, conferences, cultural events, and teacher training. The Center sponsors visiting scholars and offers programs for students and seminars for faculty. The Herbert and Leonard Littman Families Holocaust Resource Center advances the center’s commitment to fight bigotry and promote understanding through its acclaimed Holocaust education program.

Over a long and distinguished career, Zerubavel has published extensively in the areas of collective memory, Israeli culture, war and trauma, and symbolic landscapes. Her books include the award-winning Recovered Roots: Collective Memory and the Making of Israeli National Tradition, and the 2018 release, Desert in the Promised Land. Zerubavel is currently at work on a new book, Biblical Reenactments and the Performance of Antiquity in Israeli Culture.