Nancy Sinkoff, Academic Director
Nancy Sinkoff is the Academic Director of the Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life and Professor of Jewish Studies and History at Rutgers—New Brunswick. From 2014-2016 and 2017-2018, she served as the Director of the Center for European Studies at Rutgers. Dr. Sinkoff received her doctorate in modern Jewish history from Columbia University in 1996 after earning two master’s degrees, one from Columbia in American History and one from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in Interdisciplinary Jewish Studies. She holds a B.A. from Harvard-Radcliffe College, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude in Social Studies. Dr. Sinkoff’s fields of interest include early modern and modern Jewish history, East European Jewish intellectual history both in the Polish heartland and in its diasporic settlements, the Enlightenment, politics, and gender. Her most recent publications include her co-edited volume (with Rebecca Cypess), Sara Levy’s World: Gender, Judaism, and the Bach Tradition in Enlightenment Berlin, with her introductory essay, “Experiencing Sara Levy’s World” (2018); “‘A Melancholy Offering Tendered with Esteem’: Gershom Scholem and Lucy S. Dawidowicz on Nathan Birnbaum, an Unexpected Conversation,” Jewish Quarterly Review, 107.3 (Summer 2017): 409-426; “Yidishkayt and the Making of Lucy S. Dawidowicz,” which prefaces the reissue of Dawidowicz, From That Place and Time, 1938-1947: A Memoir (2008); and Out of the Shtetl: Making Jews Modern in the Polish Borderlands (2004). Her biography of Lucy S. Dawidowicz, From Left to Right: Lucy S. Dawidowicz, the New York Intellectuals, and the Politics of Jewish History, was published in March 2020 by Wayne State University Press. She is also at work on an introduction to the scientific edition of Mendel Lefin of Satanów’s unpublished Yiddish translation of the book of Job.
Professor Sinkoff is a recipient of fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, the IIE Fulbright Association, the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Yale University’s Beinecke Library, the Frankel Center at the University of Michigan, the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, and the USC Shoah Foundation. In 2016-2017, she was the Elizabeth J. Dilworth Fellow in Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ.
She has published in The Journal of the History of Ideas, The Association of Jewish Studies Review, Studies in Contemporary Jewry, Jewish Quarterly Review, and American Jewish History, among other journals in her field. Sinkoff has presented work at national conferences of the Association for Jewish Studies, the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies Association, as well as the American Jewish Historical Society, among other venues. She has lectured widely, both domestically and internationally, including at Yarnton Manor (Oxford), the Hebrew University (Jerusalem), Tel Aviv University, Potsdam University, the International Cultural Center (Cracow, Poland), and the Center for Urban History (L’viv, Ukraine).
Beyond her activities within the scholarly sphere, Sinkoff has long devoted herself to bringing ideas and information to the public. She became engaged with public history first as a researcher for WNET-Channel 13’s series “Civilization and the Jews” and for the Lower East Side Historic Conservancy, preparing sites for a historical walking tour. With Dr. Rebecca Cypess, she organized the symposium and public concert, “Sara Levy’s World: Music, Gender, and Judaism in Enlightenment Berlin,” in September, 2014, which garnered a NJ Council for the Humanities and a DAAD grant. With Halina Goldberg (Indiana University) and Natalia Aleksiun (Touro College), she organized the 5th Annual Polish Jewish Studies Workshop, “Centering the Periphery: Polish Jewish Cultural Production Beyond the Capital,” which featured a concert at Rutgers’ Kirkpatrick Chapel, “Soundscapes of Modernity: Jews and Music in Polish Cities,” in which students and faculty from the Mason Gross School of the Arts performed and a two-day academic symposium with scholars from N. America, Israel, Poland, and Germany.
Sinkoff consulted on the eighteenth-century gallery (“Encounters with Modernity”) of the Museum of the History of the Jews of Poland, Warsaw, which opened formally in fall 2014. Sinkoff's work has been featured on radio, including “Beyond the Pale: The Progressive Jewish Radio Hour,” WBAI New York and “Shalom USA,” and “Benjamin Franklin’s Influence on Mussar,” AM-WVIE Baltimore. At Rutgers, Sinkoff introduced “Hannah Arendt” and “Ahead of Time” and moderated audience participation at the Rutgers Jewish Film Festival. Committed to disseminating historical knowledge to the widest possible audience, Sinkoff has published in the magazine, Heritage, of the American Jewish Historical Society and entered the blogosphere with the post, “What’s a Friend to Do?” Review of “Hannah Arendt,” for Lilith Magazine and “The Creation of Sara Levy’s World,” for Proofed: A Boydell & Brewer blog. She was a regular faculty member for ConText, an adult education program surveying Jewish history, and in the inaugural class of JTS Fellows. Dr. Sinkoff has also given public lectures at the Center for Jewish History, the YIVO institute, and at synagogues and JCCs in the tri-state area.