Beth S. Wenger

Beth S. Wenger

Associate Dean for Graduate StudiesMoritz and Josephine Berg Professor of History

(215) 898-5702

320 College Hall


Beth S. Wenger is Moritz and Josephine Berg Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania where she serves as Associate Dean for Graduate Studies. Wenger’s most recent book is a co-edited anthology (with Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet), titled Gender in Judaism and Islam: Common Lives, Uncommon Heritage (New York University Press, 2014).  She is also the author of History Lessons: The Creation of American Jewish Heritage (Princeton University Press, 2010) and New York Jews and the Great Depression: Uncertain Promise (Yale University Press, 1996), which was awarded the Salo Baron Prize in Jewish History from the American Academy of Jewish Research.  Her other books include The Jewish Americans: Three Centuries of Jewish Voices in America (Doubleday, 2007), companion volume to the 2008 PBS series, titled The Jewish Americans.  In addition to writing The Jewish Americans, which was named a National Jewish Book Award finalist, Wenger served on the board of distinguished scholars advising the PBS series.


Wenger’s other co-edited collections include Remembering the Lower East Side: American Jewish Reflections (with Hasia Diner and Jeffrey Shandler) as well as the museum catalogue for the exhibition that she co-curated (with Jeffrey Shandler), titled Encounters with the “Holy Land:” Place, Past, and Future in American Jewish Culture. That catalogue received honorable mention as one of the American Library Association’s Exhibition Catalogue Awards for Excellence. Wenger has published numerous scholarly articles, including contributions to the journals American Jewish History,Jewish Social Studies, the Journal of Women's History, Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, as well as several essays in collected volumes and anthologies.


Wenger has held numerous administrative positions at Penn, including History Department Chair (2012 - 2019), Jewish Studies Program Director (2005 - 2013), and other key roles. She has served as Chair of the Academic Advisory Council of New York’s Center for Jewish History, Chair of the Academic Council of the American Jewish Historical Society, and Co-Chair of the Jewish Women’s Caucus of the Association for Jewish Studies.

Wenger maintains an active role in public history, having served as one of four founding historians who helped to create the core exhibition at the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, and she continues to serve as historical consultant to the Museum. She has also served as advisor and historical consultant for several museum exhibitions and documentary films.

In 2022, Wenger was awarded the Lee Max Friedman Medal that recognizes a scholar of American Jewish studies for excellence in research, teaching, and service to the field. She is also an elected fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research and has served as a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians and the Association for Jewish Studies


Wenger received the 2008 Richard S. Dunn Award for Distinguished Teaching. Her teaching interests vary widely—from broad surveys of modern European and American Jewish history, to courses on Holocaust memory, contemporary Jewish culture, American religious history, gender and Jewish history, as well as many other courses. A specialist in American Jewish history, Wenger's interests also include European Jewish culture, American religion and ethnicity, and cultural, social and gender history.

She has been awarded several academic grants and fellowships, including a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies, and fellowships at Princeton University's Center for the Study of American Religion, the Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion at Yale University, the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan, and the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies of the University of Pennsylvania.

Wenger serves on the academic advisory boards of the Academic Council of the Center for Jewish History, of the American Jewish Historical Society, Penn’s Hebert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, and the Jewish Women's Archive. She is a member of the editorial board for the journals Jewish Quarterly Review and American Jewish History.

Wenger holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University, M.A.’s from Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Yale University.

Courses Taught
  • HIST 009 The Invention of Modern Judaism
  • HIST 141: Jewish Civilization III (Modern Period)
  • HIST 150: The American Jewish Experience
  • HIST 204: Memory and Meaning In Jewish History
  • HIST 204: Rereading the Holocaust
  • HIST 214: Jews and the City
  • HIST 610: Religion In American Culture
  • HIST 620: Readings In Modern Jewish History