Kobrin, Rebecca A.

Russell and Bettina Knapp Associate Professor of American Jewish History

Office Hours

Spring 2024: Wednesdays, 2:30 - 4:00 pm



Ph.D. — University of Pennsylvania, 2002
M.S. Ed. — University of Pennsylvania, School of Education, 2000
M.A. — University of Pennsylvania, 1995
B.A. — Yale University, 1994


Interests and Research

Rebecca Kobrin is the Russell and Bettina Knapp Associate Professor of American Jewish History. She works in the fields of immigration history, urban studies, business history, East European history and American Jewish History, specializing in modern Jewish migration. She received her B.A. (1994) from Yale University and her Ph.D. (2002) from the University of Pennsylvania.  She served as the Blaustein Post-Doctoral Fellow at Yale University (2002-2004) and the American Academy of Jewish Research Post-Doctoral Fellow at New York University (2004-6).  Her book Jewish Bialystok and Its Diaspora (Indiana University Press, 2010) was awarded the Jordan Schnitzer prize (2012).  She is the editor of Chosen Capital: The Jewish Encounter with American Capitalism (Rutgers University Press, 2012), Salo Baron: Using the Past to Shape the Future of Jewish Studies in America (Columbia University Press, 2022) and is co-editor with Adam Teller of Purchasing Power: The Economics of Jewish History (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015).  In 2015, she was awarded Columbia University’s Lenfest Distinguished Faculty Award for her outstanding teaching and graduate student mentoring.  Her forthcoming book, A Credit to the Nation: East European Immigrant Bankers and American Finance, 1870-1930 (Harvard University Press, 2024), looks at the lost world of immigrant banking and brings together the literature on American banking, East European Jewish history, and immigration studies.  She is one of the principal investigators leading the award-winning digital humanities Historical NYC Project, an award-winning map that visualizes the demographic and spatial changes wrought in New York City between 1850 and 1940.   





  • Jews and the City: Comparative Urban History
  • Immigrant New York
  • American Jewish History
  • Holocaust and American Culture
  • Approaches to International and Global History
  • Religion in the Writing of American History (graduate seminar)


Selected Awards

  • American Jewish Historical Society’s Wasserstein Prize for “Destructive Creators: Sender Jarmulowsky and Financial Failure,” 2013
  • Shoah Foundation Teaching Award, 2012
  • Center for Advanced Jewish Studies, Fellow, “Jews, Commerce and Culture,” 2008
  • Sandra and Fred Rose Young Historian’s Award, Center for Jewish History, 2004
  • American Philosophical Society, Franklin Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship, 2003
  • American Council of Learned Societies, Fellowship, 2003
  • Fulbright (IIE) Fellowship, Israel, 1998-9



  • American Historical Association
  • American Jewish Historical Society, Academic Council
  • Association for Jewish Studies [Women's Caucus, Executive Board]
  • Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies
  • Organization of American Historians



Jewish Bialystok and Its Diaspora (Indiana University Press, 2010)
Winner, Jordan Schnitzer Prize, best book in modern Jewish History, Association for Jewish Studies, 2012
Finalist, National Jewish Book Awards, American Jewish Studies, 2010

Editor, Chosen Capital: The Jewish Encounter with American Capitalism (Rutgers University Press,2012), Recommended Reading, Jewish Book Council

Co-Editor (with Adam Teller), Purchasing Power: The Economics of Jewish History (University of Pennsylvania Press, Spring 2015).


“Destructive Creators: Sender Jarmulowsky and Financial Failure in the Annals of American Jewish History,” American Jewish History Vol. 97:2 (Spring 2013), 105 - 137.

“Żydzi w międzywojennym Białymstoku. Między lokalnością a diasporą,” in Żydzi w Białymstoku(Bialystok, 2013), 150-79

“American Jewish Philanthropy, Polish Jewry and the Crisis of 1929” in 1929: Mapping the Jewish World, Hasia Diner and Gennady Estraikh, eds. (New York University Press, 2013), 73-93.

“The Other Polonia: The Responses of Yiddish Immigrant Writers in New York and Buenos Aires to the New Polish State, 1920-1925” in Choosing Yiddish, Lara Rabinovich, Hannah Pressman and Shiri Goren, eds. (Wayne State University Press, 2012), 99-119.

“’The Murdered Hebrew Maid Servant of East New York:’" Gender, Class, and the Jewish Household in Eastern Europe and Its Migrant Diaspora,” in Gender and Jewish History, Deborah Dash Moore and Marion Kaplan, eds. (Indiana University Press, 2010), 72-87.

“Espoirs déçus en Terre promise: Faillites financières et pauvreté parmi les Juifs immigrés à New York, 1914,” Les Cahiers du Judaïsme 29 (Summer 2010), 56-74.

’When a Jew was a Landsman:’ Rethinking Jewish Regional Identity in the Age of Mass Migration,”Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 7:3 (November, 2008), 357-376.

“The 1905 Revolution Abroad: Mass Migration, Russian Jewish Liberalism and American Jewry, 1903-1914,” in The 1905 Revolution: A Turning Point in Jewish History? Ezra Mendelsohn and Stefani Hoffman, eds. (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), 227-246

“The Shtetl by the Highway: The Literary Image of the East European City in New York’s Yiddish Landsmanshaft Press, 1921-1939,” Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History 9:4 (2006), 107-137.

“Rewriting the Diaspora: Eastern Europe in the Yiddish Landsmanshaft Press, 1921-1932,” Jewish Social Studies 12:3 (Fall 2006), 1-38.

“Contested Contributions: American Jewish Money and Polish-Jewish Relations in Inter-War Poland, 1919-1929,” Gal-Ed: A Journal of Polish Jewish History (Fall 2005), 49-62.