Hibernian Lecture: “How the Irish Taught the Jews to Become American”


Location: 215–16 McKenna Hall

Children at Ellis Island

Hasia R. Diner (New York University) will deliver the 2024 Hibernian Lecture, “How the Irish Taught the Jews to Become American,” in 215–16 McKenna Hall at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 26, 2024.

In the decades from the end of the 19th century into the 1920s, Irish Americans served as models and mentors to Jews, both communal elites and new immigrants. In such settings as labor unions, public schools in the large cities, and the politics of the urban machines, Irish women and men provided crucial points of entry to Jews. Over the course of those decades Irish writers defended the Jews against the anti-semitism generated by white, Protestant, native-born Americans and Irish Catholic universities opened the doors of their professional schools, just as elite universities set up quotas against Jews. This lecture will explore this little known example of cross ethnic co-operation and ponder why it happened.

The 2024 Hibernian Lecture is cosponsored by the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies.

About the speaker

Hasia Diner

Hasia R. Diner is the Paul and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History emerita at New York University, where she served as director of the Goldstein-Goren Center for American Jewish History and interim director (2017–18) of Glucksman Ireland House. A specialist in American Jewish and immigration history, she is coeditor with Miriam Nyhan Grey of Forged in America: How Irish-Jewish Encounters Shaped a Nation, published by New York University Press in November 2023. Her latest book, Opening Doors: The Unlikely Alliance Between the Irish and the Jews in America, will be published in July 2024 by St. Martin’s Press.

Among her many other books are Hungering for America: Italian, Irish and Jewish Foodways in the Age of Migration, The Jews of the United States: 1654 to 2000, We Remember With Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence after the Holocaust, 1945–1962, and, with Carl Bon Tempo, Immigration: An American History.

Diner has held Fulbright and Guggenheim fellowships and is a member of the American Academy of Jewish Research and the Society of American Historians. In 2020, she received a Hibernian Research Award from Notre Dame’s Cushwa Center.

Logos of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians

In 1978, the Ancient Order of Hibernians and Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians undertook a campaign to establish an endowment at the University of Notre Dame for illuminating the Irish heritage in America. Thanks to their support, since then the Cushwa Center has administered a variety of programs—including the Hibernian Research Award—supporting the study of the Irish experience in Ireland and America. Each year, the center invites a distinguished scholar or author to deliver the Hibernian Lecture at Notre Dame on some aspect of the Irish experience.

Image: Immigrant children at Ellis Island, New York, circa 1908. Public domain.