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Virtual SJCC: Book Fest – Historian Jonathan Sarna

January 27 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Virtual Event

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

Presented in partnership with the Jewish Book Council and Jewish Women’s Archive.
Book sales partner: Island BooksBooks mailed after the event.

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.

Guest Bios:

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.


Virtual SJCC Event
Mercer Island, WA 98040 United States
View Venue Website


Stroum Jewish Community Center
View Organizer Website


Event Partners:
Jewish book Council, Jewish Women's Archive

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