Jack Jacobs

Position: Professor
Campus Affiliation: Graduate Center|John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Degrees/Diplomas: Ph.D. Columbia University
Research Interests: Marxism, Critical Theory, Jewish political thought and movements

Jack Jacobs received a PhD from Columbia University and was an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Columbia before coming to CUNY. Professor Jacobs is the author of On Socialists and “the Jewish Question” after Marx (New York University Press 1992), of Bundist Counterculture in Interwar Poland (Syracuse University Press, 2009), and of The Frankfurt School, Jewish Lives, and Antisemitism (Cambridge University Press, 2015), and the editor of Jewish Politics in Eastern Europe: The Bund at 100 (New York University Press, 2001) and of Jews and Leftist Politics. Judaism, Israel, Antisemitism, and Gender (Cambridge University Press, 2017).  Works by Professor Jacobs have appeared in French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Russian and Yiddish as well as in English. He has delivered academic lectures in Australia, Austria, China, England, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Scotland and South Africa. Professor Jacobs was a Fulbright Research Scholar at Tel Aviv University in 1996-1997, a visiting scholar at the Simon-Dubnow-Institut fuer juedische Geschichte und Kultur at Leipzig University in 1998, the Workmen’s Circle/Dr. Emanuel Patt Visiting Professor at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in 2003-2004, and was also a Fulbright Scholar at Vilnius University in 2009. He has been the recipient of grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Forward Association, the Arthur Zygielbaum Memorial Fund, the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Service, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the Leo Baeck Institute, and the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, among other sources.  He was the Louis and Helen Padnos Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor during the Fall, 2016 semester, and the Jacob Kronhill Visiting Professor at the YIVO Institute in the Spring of 2017.

Books

(Jack Jacobs, ed. Jews and Leftist Politics. Judaism, Israel, Antisemitism, and Gender. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017.)

“The relationships, past and present, between Jews and the  political left remain of abiding interest both to the academic community and to the public.  This volume, which contains new and insightful chapters written by world-renowned scholars, considers such matters as the political implications of Judaism, the attitudes of leftists towards antisemitism, the histories of Jews on the left in Europe, the United States, and Israel, the relationship between contemporary anti-Zionism and animosity towards Jews, the associations between specific Jews and Communist parties, and the importance of gendered perspectives.  It also contains fresh studies of canonical figures, including Gershom Scholem, Gustav Landauer and Martin Buber, examines the affiliations of Jews to prominent institutions, and calls into question hitherto widely-held presumptions.  This book, which is characterized by judicious appraisals by respected authorities, therefore, sheds considerable light on contentious themes.”

Jack Jacobs, The Frankfurt School, Jewish Lives, and Antisemitism. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015

“Methodologically, the book does an excellent job; the sources are impressive, the language is clear and easy to read. In short: Jack Jacobs has written a new standard work on the history of the Institute of Social Research, that, at the same time, enriches our view of Jewish history in the twentieth century.” 
Philipp Lenhard, Bulletin of the Fritz Bauer Institute

“… an outstanding piece of scholarship … Well documented … and well argued, it is certainly destined to become the main reference for any future research on the questions involved … important and insightful.” 
Michael Löwy, New Politics

“Jack Jacobs’ The Frankfurt School, Jewish Lives, and Antisemitism is a unique and valuable contribution to the secondary literature on the history of the Institute for Social Research and Critical Theory more generally … He demonstrates a firm command of the dauntingly extensive secondary literature on Critical Theory in both English and German … Even more impressive is the extensive primary source research Jacobs has conducted in a wide variety of archives in Europe, the United States, and Israel.” 
-John Abromeit, The German Quarterly

“No subsequent discussion … will be able to ignore the wealth of new material he has unearthed, the care and balance of his judgments, and the salutary caution he has exercised in presenting them.” 
-Martin Jay, The German Quarterly

“… Jacobs succeeds in teaching us something new, and, more importantly, something quite valuable. Not only does his book aim to present Critical Theory in a new light, but it also serves as a superb case study in how politically unaligned members of the German left-wing intelligentsia maneuvered – to borrow the title of George Mosse’s book – as “German Jews beyond Judaism”.” 
-Thomas Wheatland, The German Quarterly

“To anyone seriously interested in the questions Jacobs raises … his book offers a careful and thought-provoking engagement of the relevant material. Jacobs’s style of presentation, I would argue, bears testimony not only to the commonplace wisdom that authors are never entirely in control of their texts, but also to Jacobs’s many years of close engagement of Critical Theory and his own deep-seated affinity with its concerns.” 
-Lars Fischer, The German Quarterly

“Jack Jacobs’s The Frankfurt School, Jewish Lives, and Antisemitism will be a major resource for many of us working in Critical Theory. Even-handed, clearly presented, and extensively researched, with seventy-eight pages of footnotes, the book’s overarching thesis is both simple and urgent … Jacobs’s book offers scholars an enduring resource in future work on the Jewishness of the Frankfurt School …” 
-Joan Braune, Critical Research on Religion

Jack Jacobs, ed. Bundist Counterculture in Interwar Poland. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, in cooperation with the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, 2009

“Professor Jacobs….has published a meticulously researched book drawing on fascinating Yiddish archive material and interviews with Bundist survivors to support an alternative perspective. Not only does he provide new and challenging explanations of why the Bundist movement became so popular, he also demonstrates that its rise to prominence was no freak episode but the logical consequence of its multi-layered, consistent work in the arenas that made a different to the real lives of Poland’s Jews.”

-Jewish Socialist

“A valuable book for anyone interested in the history of Polish Jewry and/or the history of working class culture. It is well written and offers important insights into an understudied topic.” 

-East European Jewish Affairs

“In this lucid, expertly researched, and rewarding monograph, Jack Jacobs discovers previously unsuspected dynamism and positive developments in interwar Polish Jewry, the world’s largest Jewish community (if not population).” 

-Slavic Review

“The Author skillfully takes the reader deep into the workings of a popular political movement in the first half of the twentieth century in order to demonstrate the Bund s immense popularity during the interwar era. The end result is a convincing argument for the need to reevaluate the study of Jewish politics in eastern Europe. The book will be of much interest to scholars of Jewish history, east European history, labor politics and Holocaust studies as well as to those looking at national movements, and the connection between culture, class and nation.”

-Religious Studies Review

Jack Jacobs, ed., Jewish Politics in Eastern Europe: The Bund at 100. New York: New York University Press, 2001.

 “A collection of new, scholarly articles on the Jewish Workers’ Bund – the first modern Jewish political party in Eastern Europe – written by prominent academics from eight countries. This work represents a broad range of perspectives, Jewish and non-Jewish, sympathetic to the Bund and critical of its work. The articles in this volume are fresh, make use of previously unused source material, and provide us with new perspectives on the significance of the Bund and its ideas.”

Jack Jacobs, On Socialists and “the Jewish Question” after Marx. New York: New York University Press, 1992.

 “An enlightening and complex reconstruction of the dialogue between leading Socialist theoreticians and Jewish intellectuals from the 1880’s until WWII. . . . Impressive not only for its meticulous and extensive research in archives throughout the U.S. and Europe but also for its lucid style.”

– Choice

 “Jacobs is to be congratulated for having written an excellent study on a difficult and very interesting subject. Based on sound scholarship and lucidly written, this work should be read by anyone interested in Jewish History and Modern European History.”

– Abraham Ascher

 “In an area so often marked by extreme partisanship and bitter passions… Jacobs demonstrates a most impressive objectivity. [T]he result is a fresh and lucid examination of this complex, ever controversial, subject.”

– Jonathan Frankel

 “Jacobs’ account is masterful in its documentation and lucid in its exposition. It is an impressive and authoritative study of a major issue in intellectual and social history.

– Julian H. Franklin

 “Mastering a vast array of primary and secondary sources in more than five languages, Dr. Jacobs’ meticulous research … is an impressive piece of scholarship which enhances our understanding of an often troubled, yet important symbiotic relationship.”

– Andrei S. Markovits

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