Jewish Studies Lecture Feb. 20

Distinguished scholar Jonathan D. Sarna speaks on the topic: “When General Grant Expelled the Jews.”


From USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 7, 2013) – The University of South Florida College of Arts and Sciences in cooperation with the USF Humanities Institute, the Departments of Religious Studies and History, and the Tampa Jewish Book Festival, will present the fourth June Baumgardner Gelbart Lecture in Jewish Studies. “When General Grant Expelled the Jews” will be presented by Jonathan D. Sarna, professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University. The lecture will be held Feb. 20, 7 p.m. at Traditions Hall in The Gibbons Alumni Center.


On December 17, 1862, as the Civil War entered its second winter, General Ulysses S. Grant issued a sweeping order, General Orders #11, expelling “Jews as a class” from his war zone. It remains the most notorious anti-Jewish official order in American history. The order came back to haunt Grant in 1868 when he ran for president. Never before had Jews been so widely noticed in a presidential contest, and never before had they been confronted so publicly with the question of how to balance their “American” and “Jewish” interests.


During his two terms in the White House, the memory of the “obnoxious order” shaped Grant’s relationship with the American Jewish community. Surprisingly, he did more for Jews than any other president to his time. How this happened, and why, sheds new light on one of our most enigmatic presidents, on the Jews of his day, and on America itself.


Sarna is the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University where he has taught for 22 years. His many publications include: “When General Grant Expelled the Jews” (Schocken, 2012), “A Time to Every Season: Letters to a Young Jew” (Basic Books, 2008. Finalist, National Jewish Book Award), “American Judaism: A History” (Yale, 2004. Winner, “Jewish Book of the Year,” Jewish Book Council; Finalist, Koret Jewish Book Award; Selected as an “Outstanding Academic Title,” Choice Magazine), and numerous edited and co-edited volumes on American Judaism.


This lecture is made possible by a generous grant from the June Baumgardner Gelbart Foundation. A Tampa Bay area philanthropist and patron of the arts, Gelbart was active in the local Jewish community and committed to programs serving Jewish youth. The Foundation continues June Baumgardner Gelbart’s philanthropic legacy.


The lecture will be followed by a question-and-answer session. This presentation is free and open to USF students, faculty and staff, and to the general public.


For more information, contact Religious Studies Associate Professor Cass Fisher at (813) 974-0445 or


The Gibbons Alumni Center is accessible via the Leroy Collins Boulevard entrance from Fowler Avenue and is located southwest of the intersection of USF Alumni Drive and USF Maple Drive. Parking is available in lots 23A, 23B or 23T.