Virtual SJCC: Book Fest – Historian Jonathan Sarna
January 27 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Book Fest in Your Living Room: Zoom Conversation + Q&A
Jonathan Sarna, editor of “Cosella Wayne”
In conversation with Judith Rosenbaum of Jewish Women’s Archive
Cora Wilburn’s “Cosella Wayne, Or Will and Destiny,” published in 1860, is considered the first American Jewish novel — and it was all but forgotten until rediscovered by Brandeis University Professor Jonathan Sarna in 2016. In this Zoom conversation, Sarna, who currently serves as chief historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History, discusses the newly published version and Wilburn’s fascinating life with Judith Rosenbaum, CEO of the Jewish Women’s Archive.
Tickets: $5-10 virtual ticket | $36 book purchase (includes free ticket + shipping)
Zoom links emailed one hour prior to the event
NOTE: Ticket sales end Wed, Jan 27, at 5:30 pm. | No refunds
About the Book:
Published in 1860, “Cosella Wayne: Or, Will and Destiny” was essentially forgotten until professor Jonathan Sarna rediscovered it at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies in 2016, and his introduction in the newly published version is a must-read. The book is both autofiction and soap opera, filled with fictionalized accounts of her family dynamics and childhood of worldwide travel, her stint as an impoverished seamstress, and her experimentation with different faiths. Every chapter ends with a dramatic cliffhanger.
For much of her life, author Cora Wilburn, born Henrietta Pulfermacher, worked to shed light on injustice. She wrote about taboo topics such as slavery, the exploitation of workers, women’s rights, intermarriage, and religious hypocrisy. This did not make her very popular in certain circles, and few embraced or preserved her legacy. After her death, Sarna’s efforts set Wilburn in her rightful place—not merely among the canon of Jewish American novelists, but at its lead.
Jonathan D. Sarna is the Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University and directs its Schusterman Center for Israel Studies. He is also the chief historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History. He is author or editor of more than thirty books on American Jewish history and life including “American Judaism: A History.”
Judith Rosenbaum is the CEO of the Jewish Women’s Archive, a pioneering digital archive and public history organization that documents Jewish women’s stories, elevates their voices, and inspires them to be agents of change. An educator, historian, and writer, Judith earned a Ph.D. in American Studies from Brown University. Judith teaches and lectures widely on Jewish studies and women’s studies and also serves on the faculty of the Bronfman Fellowships. She was recently awarded a Shusterman Fellowship for Jewish leaders.