Gary P. Zola

Gary P. Zola

Gary Phillip Zola is a rabbi and historian of American Jewry who specializes in the development of American Reform Judaism. He is a professor of the American Jewish Experience at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Cincinnati. Since 1998, he has served as the second Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives (AJA), succeeding his teacher and mentor, Jacob Rader Marcus (1896–1995). Zola is also editor of The Marcus Center’s award-winning semi-annual publication, The American Jewish Archives Journal.[1]

Zola served as the organizer and chair of the congressionally-recognized Commission for Commemorating 350 Years of American Jewish History, a consortium of leading research institutions established to promote the study of American Jewish history during the 350th anniversary Jewish life in America (2004–2005). In 2006, Zola became the first American Jewish historian to receive appointment to the Academic Advisory Council of the congressionally-recognized Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.[2]

In addition to these national activities, Zola has been actively involved in community relations in Cincinnati, Ohio. In May 2009, the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission conferred the Bishop Herbert Thompson, Jr. Outstanding Humanitarian Award on Zola in recognition of his service to the people of the greater Cincinnati metropolitan area. The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati recognized Zola’s service to Cincinnati’s Jewish community in 2004 by awarding him its Distinguished Leadership Award.

In 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Zola to serve as a member of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad. Although HUC-JIR presidents have received such distinctions over the years, Zola is the first regular member of the College-Institute’s faculty to serve on a standing commission of the United States Government in the history of the school.



Zola holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, with distinction, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (1973), and a Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois (1976). He earned a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters (1981) and a Master of Philosophy (1988) from HUC-JIR. Zola received his Ph.D. in American Jewish History from the College-Institute in 1991.


  • ‘He Was Like One of Us’: Abraham Lincoln and American Jewry (Forthcoming from Southern Illinois University Press).
  • The American Jewish Experience: A Primary Source Reader (Forthcoming from Brandeis University Press) with Marc Dollinger
  • The Americanization of the Jewish Prayer Book and the Liturgical Development of Congregation Ahawath Chesed, New York City (New York: Central Synagogue, 2008).
  • Isaac Harby of Charleston by Gary P. Zola (Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1994).

Edited Volumes

  • A Place of Our Own : the Rise of Reform Jewish Camping : Essays Honoring the Fiftieth Anniversary of Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute, URJ, in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin edited with an introduction by Gary P. Zola and Michael M. Lorge (Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 2006).
  • The Dynamics of American Jewish History: Jacob Rader Marcus's Essays on American Jewry, edited with introduction and notes by Gary P. Zola (Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2004).
  • Women Rabbis: Exploration and Celebration edited by Gary P. Zola (Cincinnati: HUC-JIR Rabbinic Alumni Association Press, 1996).
  • Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion -- A Centennial History, 1875–1975 written by Michael A. Meyer and edited by Gary P. Zola (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1992).
  • To Learn and to Teach: Your Future as a Rabbi written by Alfred Gottschalk and revised by Gary P. Zola (New York: Rosen Publishing Group, 1988).


  1. ^ Bezalel, Gordon (2007). "Zola, Gary Phillip". In Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Encyclopedia Judaica. 21 (2nd ed.). Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA. pp. 665.
  2. ^ Nadel, Pamela S.; Sarna, Jonathan D., eds (2010). New Essays in American Jewish History: Commemorating the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Founding of the American Jewish Archives. Cincinnati: American Jewish Archives and Ktav. pp. viv–xv. ISBN 1602801487. OCLC 613994900

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