Jonathan Sarna was born in 1955 in Philadelphia, and grew up in New York and Massachusetts. He is regarded as one of the foremost authorities on American Jewish History and 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.
Sarna attended Brandeis University, Hebrew College, as well as Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem and Yale. He received his doctorate from Yale in 1979.
He is a member of the Rohr Learning Institute's advisory board, and received the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry's Marshall Sklare Award in 2002. Sarna is married to Ruth Langer, and has 2 children, Aaron and Leah.