James Loeffler is a Senior Fellow of the Kogod Research Center at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. In the fall of 2023, he joined the Department of History at Johns Hopkins University after many years as the Jay Berkowitz Professor of Jewish History at the University of Virginia. He is a Fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research and co-editor of the Association for Jewish Studies Review.
His scholarly research explores the ties between law, culture, and politics in modern Jewish history. His writings include two prize-winning books, Rooted Cosmopolitans: Jews and Human Rights in the Twentieth Century (Yale, 2018) and The Most Musical Nation: Jews and Culture in the Late Russian Empire (Yale, 2010), and two edited volumes, The Law of Strangers: Jewish Lawyers and International Law in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge, 2019) and A Jew in the Street: New Views on European Jewish History (Wayne State, 2024), along with an diverse array of articles on Zionist thought, European antisemitism, international law, and human rights.
He is currently at work on a book about antisemitism and free speech in postwar America. The book grows out of his reporting for The Atlantic magazine on the 2021 trial of White Supremacist leaders behind the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” event in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Other longer-term projects include a biography of Raphael Lemkin, the father of the Genocide Convention, and a study of the life and legacy of Avraham Zvi Idelsohn, the father of modern Jewish music, conducted under the auspices of the Jewish Music Research Centre at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His work on genocide and international law encompasses The Lemkin Project: A Digital Archive of Law, Literature and Global Thought, while his research on Zionism and music can be found at The Idelsohn Project: A Digital Humanities Historical Initiative.
He earned his BA in Social Studies from Harvard University and received his MA and PhD in Jewish History from Columbia University, with postgraduate studies at the Pardes Institute and the Hebrew University. He has served as Dean’s Visiting Scholar at Georgetown University Law Center, Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress, and Robert A. Savitt Fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
He lives in Washington, DC with his wife and children.