History professor to receive award for service to American Jewish history
NEW PALTZ -- State University of New York at New Paltz history professor Gerald Sorin will receive a lifetime achievement award from the American Jewish Historical Society at a ceremony to be held in Charleston, S.C., from June 5-7.
Sorin, who is the author of seven books and nearly 200 articles and essays in Jewish and American Studies, has directed the college's Jewish Studies Program since 1983. In 1989, he founded and continues to direct the Louis and Mildred Resnick Institute for the Study of Modern Jewish Life, which has brought many well-known speakers to the campus.
The Lee Max Friedman Award Medal is given in recognition of an individual, group or association deemed to have rendered distinguished service over the course of many years in the field of American Jewish history. Distinguished service includes special achievements in research, popular writing, teaching, and encouragement and/or support of specific historical projects.
Sorin called the award "a great honor," but he gave particular credit and thanks to researchers who helped his efforts over the years.
"The prizewinning novelist Dara Horn said something not too long ago about the creative imagination that I think applies as much to good historical research and writing as it does to art and literature: 'It's a group effort,'" Sorin said. "I could not have done the work for which I am being honored had it not been for the giants in Jewish Studies and American Studies whose shoulders I reached for."
The award is one of many Sorin has received. In 1994, he was awarded the State University's highest rank - Distinguished University Professor. His recent biography "Irving Howe: A Life of Passionate Dissent" (2002), won the Saul Viener Prize for the Best Book in Jewish American History published in 2001 and 2002, as well as the celebrated National Jewish Book Award in History for 2002-2003, the oldest and most prestigious award in the field of Jewish literature.
Gerald Benjamin, the college's dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, called Sorin "a truly extraordinary teacher, scholar and citizen of the university whose international reputation has been achieved during the course of a distinguished career."
That career began in 1965. Sorin's early work centered on the Civil War era, slavery and the abolitionists, and included many essays and two books: "The New York Abolitionists: A Case Study of Political Radicalism" (1970) and "Abolitionism: A New Perspective" (1972), which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in History. Sorin's interest in radicalism carried over into his later work in Jewish Studies with dozens of essays in the scholarly journals and with his book "The Prophetic Minority: American Jewish Immigrant Radicals, 1880-1920" (1985).
Sorin went on to write "The Nurturing Neighborhood: The Brownsville Boys Club and Jewish Community in Urban America, 1940-1990" (1990), a work described by critics as "a model account of neighborhood life, adolescent culture, generational change and American ethnicity." This was followed by "A Time for Building: The Third Migration, 1880-1920," which is part of the acclaimed five-volume series "The Jewish Experience in America, ed. Henry Feingold" (1992). In 1997, Sorin published his concise interpretative overview of 300 years of American Jewish experience, "Tradition Transformed."
Located in the heart of a dynamic college town, 90 minutes from metropolitan New York City, the State University of New York at New Paltz is a highly selective college of about 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
One of the most well-regarded public colleges in the nation, New Paltz delivers an extraordinary number of majors in Business, Liberal Arts, Sciences, Engineering, Fine and Performing Arts and Education.
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