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Pamela Nadell

Patrick Clendenen Chair in Women's and Gender History Department of History

Additional Positions at AU

Pamela S. Nadell holds the Patrick Clendenen Chair in Women's and Gender History and is Director of the Jewish Studies Program. A specialist in American Jewish history and women’s history, she teaches a variety of courses in Jewish civilization. Her awards include AU’s highest faculty award, Scholar/Teacher of the Year (2007) and the American Jewish Historical Society’s Lee Max Friedman Award for distinguished service to the profession. Her books include Women Who Would Be Rabbis: A History of Women's Ordination, 1889-1985 (Beacon Press, 1998), which was a finalist for a National Jewish Book Award. Her most recent book, co-edited with AU Professor Kate Haulman, is Making Women's Histories: Beyond National Perspectives (New York University Press, 2013). Past chair of the Academic Council of the American Jewish Historical Society, she was deeply involved in the activities commemorating 350 years of Jewish life in America. Her consulting work for museums includes the Library of Congress and the National Museum of American Jewish History on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall. She is currently president of the Association for Jewish Studies.


PhD, History, The Ohio State University
MA, History, The Ohio State University
BA, Hebraic Studies, Douglass College, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Languages Spoken

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CAS - History
Battelle Tompkins - 141
On Leave
Contact Info
(202) 885-2425 (Office)

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For the Media
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See Also
History Department


Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Research Interests

A scholar of the American Jewish experience, Pamela S. Nadell’s publications focus, in particular, on the history of American Judaism and the history of America’s Jewish women.

Professional Presentations

  • “Religious History Is American Women’s History” chair and panelist, Fourteenth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, University of Minnesota, June 2008.
  • “Writing American Jewish Women’s History: Questions from a Comparative Gaze,” plenary panel, 8th Biennial Scholars’ Conference on American Jewish History, University of Southern California and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles, CA, June 2008.
  • “The Constellation of Jewish Feminism,” annual meeting of the Association for Jewish Studies, Toronto, Canada, Dec. 2007.
  • “Roundtable: The Future of American Women’s Religious History,” annual conference of the American Academy of Religion,” San Diego, CA, November 2007.
  • “The Power to Transform: Women and American Judaism,” for the conference “New Scholarship on Women and Judaism,” Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL, February 2006
  • “Post-Denominationalism in American Judaism?”, annual conference of the Association for Jewish Studies, Washington, D.C., December 2005
  • Keynote, “Divided Lives: Baltimore’s Jewish Women in the Twentieth Century,” Jerome M. Gumenick Keynote Address, for the conference “Looking South from the Mason-Dixon Line: 30th Annual Conference of the Southern Jewish Historical Society,” Baltimore, MD, 6 November 2005.

Professional Services

  • Historical consultant to the new  National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia, PA.
  • Book Review Editor, American Jewish History (2000-2010)
  • Chair, Academic Council, American Jewish Historical Society (2000-2003)
  • Historical consultant to several projects of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington, including its exhibit Scrapbook of an American Community, National Building Museum, 2005, and its 2009 exhibit Jewish Life in Mr. Lincoln’s City.

Selected Publications

  • Three Hundred and Fifty Years: An Album of Jewish Memory, co-authored with Michael Feldman, Karla Goldman, Scott Martin Kosofsky, Jonathan D. Sarna, and Gary P. Zola.  New York and Cincinnati: American Jewish Historical Society and Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, 2005.  
  • Editor, American Jewish Women's History: A Reader. New York: New York University Press, 2003.
  • Women and American Judaism: Historical Perspectives, co-edited with Jonathan D. Sarna. Hanover, NH: Brandeis University Press/University Press of New England, 2001.
  • Women Who Would Be Rabbis: A History of Women's Ordination, 1889-1985. Boston: Beacon Press, 1998. 
  • Conservative Judaism in America: A Biographical Dictionary and Sourcebook Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1988.
  • “A Bright New Constellation: Feminism and American Judaism,” in The Columbia History of Jews and Judaism in America, ed. Marc Lee Raphael (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008), 385-405.
  • “Bridges to 'A Judaism Transformed by Women’s Wisdom': The First Generation of Women Rabbis,” in Women Remaking American Judaism, edited by Riv-Ellen Prell (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2007), 211-228.
  • “Engendering Dissent: Women and American Judaism,” in The Religious History of American Women: Reimagining the Past, edited by Catherine A. Brekus.  (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007),  pp. 279-93.
  • “America’s Jewish Women,” in From Haven to Home, 350 Years of Jewish Life in America, ed. Michael Grunberger. New York: Library of Congress and George Braziller, 2004), pp. 147-62.

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

  • American University Scholar/Teacher of the Year, 2007-08
  • Finalist, National Jewish Book Award in Women’s Studies for Women Who Would be Rabbis, 1998
  • American University Faculty Award for Outstanding Contributions to Academic Development, 1997.
  • Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture Fellowship, 1995-96.
  • Anti-Defamation League Community Leadership Award (Washington, DC Regional Office, 1995).
  • Franklin Fellow, American Jewish Archives, l981-82.


  • Historical consultant to the documentary And the Gates Opened: Women in the Rabbinate, produced by Diva Communications for the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, premiered on ABC-TV in January 2005; the film received an Emmy for religious programming
  • Consultant to the film, The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (1998).
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