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Shaul Kelner

Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and Sociology

B.A.(George Washington University 1992)

M.Phil, Ph.D. (City University of New York 2000, 2002)


Visiting Scholar, Dept. of Sociology & Anthropology, Tel Aviv University (2008-2009)

Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel (2004)



210 Center Building


Shaul Kelner specializes in the sociology of American Jews. His research focuses on transnational Jewish solidarity, and analyzes how culture and politics intersect to shape Jewish life.


His newest book, A Cold War Exodus (NYU Press 2024) examines the mass mobilization tactics in the Cold War-era movement to free Soviet Jews.


His first book, Tours That Bind: Diaspora, Pilgrimage and Israeli Birthright Tourism (NYU Press, 2010), won the Association for Jewish Studies’ 2010 Jordan Schnitzer Book Award in the category of Social Science, Anthropology and Folklore and was named Honorable Mention for the American Sociological Association Culture Section’s 2011 Mary Douglas Prize for Best Book.


Prof. Kelner has been a Fellow of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute for Advanced Studies and the University of Michigan’s Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies, as well as a visiting scholar in Tel Aviv University’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology. He received his Ph.D in 2002 from the City University of New York, which he attended as a Wexner Graduate Fellow.


During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, Vanderbilt’s College of Arts and Science recognized him with an Innovative Teaching Award for Creating Engaging In-Person Learning Environments.

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