Samuel J Kessler


Assistant Professor in Religion

I am Assistant Professor of Religion and Åke and Kristina Bonnier Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies in the Department of Religion.

I received my BA in History from New York University and MA and PhD in Religious Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

My scholarship focuses primarily on nineteenth-century religious responses to modernity, though I work on topics ranging across Judaism, Central European History, postmodern theory, Holocaust, and twentieth-century literature.

I have taught widely in Jewish religion and culture, both in the classroom and community. You can find a selection of my syllabi here and my community engagement here as well as on Sepharia. Anyone in the community with questions about Judaism is encouraged to contact me. 

My first monograph, The Formation of a Modern Rabbi: The Life and Times of the Viennese Scholar and Preacher Adolf Jellinek (Brown Judaic Studies, 2022) examines the history and development of the modern rabbi, the impact of Wissenschaft des Judentums on scholarship and religion, and the importance of urbanization in Jewish communal transformation in nineteenth-century Central Europe. 

With Dr. George Y. Kohler (Bar-Ilan), I am completing an edited volume, entitled Modern Jewish Theology: The First One Hundred Years, 1835-1935, to appear in the JPS series Anthologies of Jewish Thought

My most recent publications include:

  • “‘My Father’s Face:’ Judaism, God, and Ritual Practice in Philip Roth’s Nemesis, Indignation, and Everyman,Studies in American Jewish Literature 41, no. 1 (2022): 34-59.
  • “‘Garrulous, lamenting, whiney, but always interesting’: Heinrich Graetz’s Evolving Characterization of his Contemporaries from the Diary to the History of the Jews.” Leo Baeck Institute Year Book 63, no. 1 (2018): 229-253.

(Links to all my published papers are available here.)

With Dr. Emanuel Fiano (Fordham), I have edited the correspondence of Gershom Scholem to Abraham Joshua Heschel (forthcoming in New German Critique), and with Dr. Timothy Parrish (UC Davis), a Special Issue of Philip Roth Studies (18.1 Spring 2022) on the theme of "Roth and Judaism."

In addition, I have authored numerous book reviews for, among others, the Journal of Austrian Studies and German Studies Review. A response to Thomas A. Lewis's Why Philosophy Matters for the Study of Religion and Vice Versa appeared on Syndicate.  

I am an Advisory Board member of the Center for Sermon Studies based at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, as well as an Editorial Board member of its referred journal, Sermon Studies

You can find a copy of my most recent CV here and more of my work on

[Updated January 2023.]


B.A. New York University; M.A., PhD. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Areas of Expertise

Judaism, Europe, History, Literature, and Religion

Courses Taught

REL-125 (Intro to Judaism) and REL-155 (The Holocaust)

Synonym Title Times Taught Terms Taught
REL-115 World Religions 4 2022/SP, 2020/FA, 2019/FA, and 2019/SP
REL-214 Individual & Morality 2 2021/FA
REL-315 Mystics of the West 2 2021/SP and 2019/SP
REL-282 Perspectives on Evil, Sin, and Suffering 2 2020/SP
REL-144 ST:Intro to Judaism 2 2019/FA and 2018/FA
REL-399 Senior Thesis 1 2022/FA
REL-223 Legends of the Jews 1 2022/SP
REL-150 Abraham 1 2021/FA
REL-125 Intro to Judaism 1 2021/SP
REL-373 Holocaust: Then & Now 1 2020/SP
REL-253 Science and Religion 1 2018/FA