Hasia Diner is the Paul and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History at New York University, with joint appointment in the department of history and the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies. She is also director of the Goldstein Goren Center for American Jewish History. She has built her scholarly career around the study of American Jewish history, American immigration and ethnic history, and the history of American women. She has written about the ways in which American Jews in the early twentieth century reacted to the issue of race and the suffering of African Americans, and the process by which American Jews came to invest deep meaning in New York's Lower East Side. She is the author of We Remember with Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence After the Holocaust (2009), winner of a National Jewish Book Award and the American Jewish Historical Society's Saul Viener Prize, and Roads Taken: The Great Jewish Migration to the New World and the Peddlers Who Led the Way (2015), a global history of Jewish peddling and Jewish migrations. She is a coeditor of 1929: Mapping the Jewish World (2013), winner of a National Jewish Book Award for anthologies. A Guggenheim Fellow, Diner has also written about other immigrant groups and the contours of their migration and settlement, including a study of Irish immigrant women and of Irish, Italian, and east European Jewish foodways. She is an elected member of both the Society of American Historians and the American Academy of Jewish Research, and lectures widely to scholarly and community audiences on a range of topics.
In the decades from the end of the 19th century into the 1920s Irish Americans served as models and mentors to Jews, both communal elites and new immigrants. In such settings as labor unions, public schools in the large cities, and the politics of the urban machines, Irish women and men provided crucial points of entry to Jews. Over the course of those decades Irish writers defended the Jews against the anti-semitism generated by white, Protestant, native-born Americans and Irish Catholic universities opened the doors of their professional schools, just as elite universities set up quotas against Jews. This lecture explores this little known example of cross ethnic co-operation and ponders why it happened.