Jonathan D. Sarna (born 10 January 1955) is the Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History in the department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts and director of its Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program.
He is the son of Hebrew College librarian Helen Horowitz Sarna and biblical scholar Nahum Sarna. Born in Philadelphia, and raised in New York City and Newton Centre, Massachusetts, Sarna attended Brandeis University, Hebrew College in Newton Centre, Massachusetts, Mercaz HaRav Kook in Jerusalem, Israel and Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where he obtained his doctorate in 1979.
Sarna is regarded by Forward newspaper as one of the most prominent historians of American Judaism. His 2004 book,American Judaism: A History, received the National Jewish Book Award and appeared as Publishers Weekly's Best Religion Book.
He is the author of Lincoln and the Jews: A History, from St. Martin's Press (2015).
One of Sarna's most widely cited academic contributions relates to his scholarship on Ulysses S. Grant's relationship with American Jews. General Ulysses S. Grant in December 1862 issued an order expelling Jewish traders from his military command; it was a blatant display of anti-Semitism and president Lincoln forced Grant to rescind it. In his book on When General Grant Expelled the Jews (2012) Sarna argues that Grant became one of the greatest friends of Jews in American history. When he was president, he appointed more Jews than any previous president. He condemned atrocities against Jews in Russia, putting human rights on the American diplomatic agenda.
Sarna received the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry's Marshall Sklare Award in 2002.