Department ofHistory

Tobias Brinkmann

Tobias Brinkmann

Malvin and Lea Bank Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and History

412 Weaver Building

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: (814) 865-4690

Curriculum Vitae:


PhD, Technische Universität Berlin, 2000
MA, Technische Universität Berlin, 1994
MA, Indiana University, Bloomington, 1994


I am a social historian who studies Jewish history after 1800, with a focus on migration processes in a comparative and transnational framework. A closely related topic of my research is Jewish life in the modern city, primarily in Europe and North America.

My latest study Between Borders: The Great Jewish Migration from Eastern Europe shifts the focus from the dominant immigration narrative in American and Israeli/Zionist history to the actual journeys of Jewish migrants and refugees, before and after the Holocaust. I question the validity of influential narratives about Jewish migration by stressing the importance of comparative approaches. Between Borders transcends national subfields, literally shedding light on spaces between borders. A major theme is the emergence and transformation of the scholarship about Jewish and general migration and flight during the twentieth century.

My book, Sundays at Sinai: A Jewish Congregation in Chicago, looks at a prominent American Jewish Reform temple that was established in 1861 by German-speaking Jewish immigrants. One of its signature reforms was the introduction of Sunday services. The drive towards religious Reform went hand in hand with a remarkable degree of civic engagement in and beyond Chicago.

I teach a range of courses about modern Jewish, European and U.S. history. Together with my colleague Eliyana Adler I regularly offer the embedded course Hist/JSt 426 about the history of the Holocaust. This course includes a one-week trip to memorial sites in Eastern Europe over spring break.

Recent Publications:

Between Borders: The Great Jewish Migration from Eastern Europe (New York: Oxford University Press, 2024).

“The Jewish Experience in American Cities,” in: Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History, ed. Jon Butler (New York: Oxford University Press, 2022).

“Globalizing Diaspora: The Eastern European Jewish Mass Migration and the Transformation of the Jewish Diaspora,” The Oxford Handbook of the Jewish Diaspora, ed. Hasia Diner (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021), 409–430.

Sundays at Sinai: A Jewish Congregation in Chicago (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012).

Awards and Service:

Herbert R. Bloch Jr. Memorial Fellow, American Jewish Archives (2021/22)

Maurice Amado Foundation Fellow, Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania (2021)

Outstanding Teaching Award for Tenure-Line Faculty, College of Liberal Arts (2013)

Recent Courses:

HIST121 – Holocaust
HIST115 – American Jewish History
HIST420 – Twentieth Century Europe

Areas of Specialization:

Modern Europe

Nineteenth Century U.S.




Areas of Specialization: