American Jewish Historian
Tulane university

CUrriculum Vitae



Dr. Michael R. Cohen

Tulane University

Sizeler Professor of Jewish Studies

Chair, Department of Jewish Studies

Educational Record

Ph.D., May 2008

Brandeis University

Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies

Primary Field: American Jewish History. Comprehensive examination in Medieval and Modern Jewish history passed with distinction.

Dissertation: “Schechter’s Disciples: How Solomon Schechter’s Students Created Conservative Judaism.” 

Dissertation Committee: Jonathan D. Sarna (Brandeis University), Sylvia Barack Fishman (Brandeis University), Jeffrey S. Gurock (Yeshiva University).

A.B., May 2000

Brown University

Primary Fields: 

History: graduated with honors

Judaic Studies: graduated with honors

Teaching Experience

Tulane University

Professor, Chair, Jewish Studies Department

Associate Professor, Jewish Studies Department (2015 – 2018)

Chair, Jewish Studies Department, 2017-2018

Assistant Professor, Jewish Studies Department (2012 – 2015)

Assistant Professor, German & Slavic Studies Department (2010 – 12) 

Director, Jewish Studies Program, 2010-12

Schusterman Visiting Assistant Professor (2008 – 2010)

Northeastern University

Adjunct Instructor, Spring 2007



Cotton Capitalists: American Jewish Entrepreneurship in the Reconstruction Era, (New York: New York University Press, 2017)

*Awarded Honorable Mention for the American Jewish Historical Society’s Saul Viener Book Prize for best book on American Jewish history published in 2017 or 2018

The Birth of Conservative Judaism: Solomon Schechter’s Disciples and 

the Creation of an American Religious Movement, (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012).

Edited Volumes:

Michael Cohen and Shari Rabin, eds., Oxford Handbook of American Jewish History (In Progress)

Articles, Book Chapters, and Other Publications (Peer Reviewed):

“Capitalism,” in Oxford Handbook of American Jewish History (in progress)

“‘A Scientific Humanitarian and a Humanitarian Scientist’: Lee Kaufer Frankel and American Jewish Philanthropy, 1899-1931,” American Jewish History, July, 2013.

“Cotton, Capital, and Ethnic Networks: Jewish Economic Growth in the Postbellum Gulf South,” American Jewish Archives Journal, August, 2012.

“Organized Movements of American Judaism: From 1880 to the Second World War,” in Alan Levinson, ed. The Wiley-Blackwell History of Jews and Judaism, (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012)

“The Travails of Early Jewish Theological Seminary Graduates: Solomon Schechter’s Disciples and the Challenges of the Emergent Conservative Movement, 1902–1913,” American Jewish Archives Journal, December, 2011.

“Adapting Orthodoxy to American Life: Shaarey Tphiloh and 

the Development of Modern Orthodoxy in Portland, Maine, 1904-1976,” Maine History, April, 2009. (Judged by Maine History editorial board as the year’s best article in the journal).

“Boston,” “Fraternal Societies (US),” “Sephardim (US),” “Marshall, Louis,” “Straus Family,” Cambridge Dictionary of Jewish Religion, History, and Culture, (2011).

“Fleischer, Charles.” Encyclopaedia Judaica. Eds. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Vol. 7. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007, 72. 

Articles and Book Chapters (Non-Peer Reviewed):

“Big Tent or Narrower Tent?,” Voices of Conservative Judaism, vol. 7, no.1, Autumn, 2013.

“Foreword,” in Emily Ford and Barry Stiefel, The Jews of New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta: Life and Community Along the Bayou (The History Press, 2012).

Book Reviews:

Review of Hasia Diner, Roads Taken: The Great Jewish Migrations to the New World and the Peddlers who Forged the Way, and Adam Mendelsohn, The Rag Race: How Jews Sewed their Way to Success in America and the British Empire, in Association for Jewish Studies Review (April, 2016)

Review of Anton Hieke, Jewish Identity in the Reconstruction South, in American Jewish Archives Journal, (December, 2014)

Review of Joan S. Friedman, “Guidance, Not Governance”: Rabbi Solomon B. Freehof and Reform Responsa, in American Jewish History, vol 98, No 3, July, 2014

Review of Rebecca Kobrin, “Chosen Capital: The Jewish Encounter with American Capitalism,” in Journal of American History, vol 100, number 2, September, 2013.

Review of Bruce L. Ruben, “Max Lilienthal: The Making of the American Rabbinate,” H-Judaic, H-Net Reviews, 2012

Review of Leonard Rogoff, “Down Home: Jewish Life in North Carolina,” in Southern Jewish Historical Society, 13, October, 2010. 

Review of Lila Corwin Berman, “Speaking of Jews: Rabbis, Intellectuals, and the Creation of an American Public Identity,” in American Jewish History, 95, no. 3, September, 2009.

Review of Henry Feingold, “‘Silent No More’: Saving the Jews of Russia, The American Jewish Effort, 1967-1989,” in American Jewish Archives, LX, nos. 1&2, 2008. 

Papers Read

Fractured Paradigms: The 2018 American Jewish Historical Society Biennial Scholars’ Conference, “Jewish Merchants and Black Customers: Reframing the Black-Jewish Economic Relationship in the Reconstruction South,” June, 2018.

Jews in Racialized Spaces, Joint Conference with Southampton University, the University of Cape Town, and University of Sydney, “Jewish Merchants and Freedmen in the American South,” March, 2017.

Australian Association for Jewish Studies, “Jewish Peoplehood and Free Market Economics: Developing Counter-Narratives Through the Digital Humanities,” presented jointly with David B. Cohen (Brandeis University), February, 2017.

Southern Jewish Historical Society, Annual Conference, “Lost in the Flood: The Story of the Washing Away of Jewish Life in Bayou Sara, Louisiana,” November, 2016

Old World/New World: Jews in Transition, Southampton University and University of Cape Town, “Old South, New South: American Jewish Networks and the Transition to a New World Economy, April, 2015.

Neighbours: Relations between Jews and non-Jews throughout History, University of New South Wales / Shalom Institute, “To Preclude Gentile Competition?”: Jewish and Non-Jewish Economic Coexistence in the 19th Century American South,” February, 2015.

Association for Jewish Studies Annual Conference, “Reconciling Proclivity and Environment: Jewish Niche Economies and the American Gulf South,” December, 2014.

Jews and Judaism in the American World of “Difference”: The 2014 Biennial Scholars’ Conference in American Jewish History, “Cotton and Capitalism: The Jewish Ethnic Economy in Bayou Sara, Louisiana,” June, 2014.

Jews, Judaism, and Hybridity, University of Adelaide (Australia), “From ‘Judaism in America’ to ‘American Judaism’: Cultural Hybridity and the Reconceptualization of Traditional Jewish Practice,” February, 2014.

Association for Jewish Studies Annual Conference, “Cotton, Credit, and Capital: Niche Economies and the Rise of the Jewish Merchant Class in the Gulf South, 1840-1890,” December, 2013.

World Congress of Jewish Studies, Hebrew University (Jerusalem), “Cotton and Capital: Jewish Economic Networks in the 19th Century American South,” July, 2013. 

From Europe to New Orleans, Jewish Music Forum Conference, “From Minhag America to American Jewish Movements: Unity and Fragmentation in Nineteenth-Century American Judaism,”March, 2013.

Religion in American Life, King’s College (London), “Traditional Judaism Confronts America: Mediating Cultural Conflict Within Conservative Judaism,” February, 2013.

Jewish Languages, Jewish Cultures: The Shaping of Jewish Civilizations, University of Sydney (Australia), “An ‘Unholy Tongue’ or a New Jewish Language: English and the Quest to Save Traditional American Judaism,” February, 2013. 

Beyond Boundaries: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Studying American Jews, American Jewish Historical Society Scholars’ Conference, “Jews in the Cotton Industry:  Ethnic Economies in the Nineteenth-Century Gulf South,” June, 2012.

Jews, Slavery, and the Civil War, “Jewish Merchants, Northern Capital, and Southern Reconstruction,” May, 2011.

Central Conference of American Rabbis Annual Convention, “Charismatic Religious Leadership in American Judaism,” March, 2011

Association for Jewish Studies Annual Conference, “Representations of the Jewish Merchant in the Postbellum South,” December, 2009

Southern Jewish Historical Society Conference, “Northern Jews and their 'Hebrew Agents': Images of the Jewish Merchant in the Postbellum South,” November, 2009

University of Southampton/ University of Cape Town: The Jewish Family and Migration, “American Conservative Judaism and the Imagined Family,” January, 2009

Association for Jewish Studies Annual Conference, “Solomon Schechter's Disciples and the Creation of Conservative Judaism,” December, 2008

American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, “Schechter’s Disciples: How Solomon Schechter’s Students Created Conservative Judaism,” November, 2008

American Jewish Archives Fellowship Seminar, “From Seminary Men to Conservative Rabbis: The Development of Conservative Judaism in America,” May, 2007

Additional Lectures

Touro Synagogue, New Orleans, LA, “The Immigrant Jews are Taking our Jobs!: A Cautionary Tale from 19th Century Louisiana,” March, 2017

SUNY Binghamton, King Credit: Jewish Economic Networks and the Cotton Economy of the Gulf South, 1850-1890, April, 2015

Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain. American Jewish Identity, December, 2014.

Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan. Cotton and Capital: Jewish Economic Networks in the 19th Century American South; and From ‘Judaism in America’ to ‘American Judaism’: The Reconceptualization of Traditional American Jewish Practice, October, 2014

Sydney (Australia) Jewish Museum, From ‘Judaism in America’ to ‘American Judaism,’ February, 2014

Auckland (New Zealand) Limmud Festival, From ‘Judaism in America’ to ‘American Judaism,’ February, 2014

Congregation Etz Chaim (Portland, Maine), The History of Congregation Etz Chaim, September, 2011

Major National Grants:

National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Seminars and Institutes for College and University Teachers. Privilege and Prejudice, Jewish History in the American South, Summer 2019. Program co-director with Shari Rabin (College of Charleston) and Dale Rosengarten (College of Charleston).

Professional Service

Division Chair, Modern Jewish History in the Americas, Association for Jewish Studies, 2019-2021

Executive Committee, Academic Council of the American Jewish Historical Society, 2019-2022

Chair, Association for Jewish Studies Directors Group, 2017- present

Academic Advisory Board, Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture, 2017-present

Academic Advisory Board, Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience, 2017-present

Board Member, Southern Jewish Historical Society, 2015-18

Judge for Major Jewish Book Award, 2014-2016

Program Co-Chair, Annual Conference of the Southern Jewish Historical Society, 2016

Chair, Fellowship Selection Committee, American Jewish Historical Society, 2016, (member of committee 2014).

Fellowship Selection Committee, American Jewish Archives, 2016. History Project Archive, Project Adviser, 2007-17

University Service

Tulane Jewish Studies, Chair/ Director, 2010-12, 2017-present

Tulane School of Professional Advancement, Academic Council, 2017-18

Chair, Jewish Studies Executive Secretary search committee, 2018

Chair, Hebrew Language Professor of Practice search committee, 2017-18

School of Liberal Arts Nominating Committee, 2017-2021

Chair, Tulane University Committee on Undergraduate Academic Requirements, 2015- 2016 (committee member 2013-15)

Co-Chair, joint history-Jewish Studies search committee for Middle Eastern historian, 2012

Chair, search committee for American-Israel Cooperative Enterprise visiting professor, 2010-11, 2011-12

Created Jewish Studies Course Schedules, 2010-11; 2011-12

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Accreditation Report, German and Slavic Studies Department, 2010-11

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Accreditation Report, Jewish Studies Program, 2009-10; 2010-11

Jewish Studies Newsletter Editor, Fall, 2009, Spring 2011

Honors and Awards

American Jewish Historical Society, Honorable Mention, Saul Viener Book Prize (best book on American Jewish history published in 2017 or 2018), 2019

Tulane University Sizeler Professorship, 2011-18

Louisiana Board of Regents, Awards to Louisiana Artists and Scholars (ATLAS), 2016-17

Junior Mellon Professorship, Tulane University, 2013-15

Lurcy Fellow, Tulane University School of Liberal Arts, 2012-15 

Junior Mellon Professorship, Tulane University, 2013-15

New England Regional Fellowship Consortium Grant, Harvard University archives & Smith College archives, 2012-13

Monroe Fellowship, Tulane University, 2011-13

Glick Fellowship, Tulane University School of Liberal Arts, 2012-13

Baxter Award, best article in Maine History, 2010

Ruth B. Fein Prize, American Jewish Historical Society, 2007 

Bernard and Audre Rapoport Fellowship, American Jewish Archives,2006-07

Abram L. Sachar Award for Research and Study Abroad, 2006-07

Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry, Research Award, 2006

Student Advising/ Mentoring

Honors Thesis reader, 2009, 2011-12, 2017-18

Tulane University Faculty Student Scholarly Engagement Fellow, 2010-15

Jewish Studies Student Organization, Advisor, 2009-10, 2011-12, 2015

Honors thesis adviser, 2011-12

Master’s Thesis Reader, 2010-11

Jewish Studies Undergraduate Adviser, Fall 2010

Other Activities

Senior Historical Advisor, Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience, 2019-20

Katz-Phillips New Orleans Jewish Community Leadership, Program Facilitator, 2015-17.

Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives and the Union of Reform Judaism, “Travels in American Jewish History,” scholar-in-residence, 2015.

Center for Jewish History scholars’ working group on Jewish Economic History, 2012-14

Tulane University Center for Engaged Learning & Teaching - Classroom Engagement Core (CELT-CE) Teaching Fellow, 2013-14

Summer Institute for Israel Studies, Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, 2009

Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Limud by the Lake II Study, 2008

National Museum of American Jewish History, Researcher,2004-05

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Educational Program on Yiddish Culture, language standardization for The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania: Chronicles from the Vilna Ghetto and the Camps, 2001-02

                                                                                                                                                                                   Updated August, 2019