Noam is Associate Professor and Samuel N. Stroum  Chair of Jewish Studies in the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. In addition, he serves as the chair of the University of Washington Jewish Studies program.

I am a historian of the Jewish people dedicated to rethinking deeply internalized assumptions about Jewish nationalism and its relationship to modern political, social, and cultural trends. My first book, Zionism and the Roads Not Taken: Rawidowicz, Kaplan, Kohn (Indiana University Press, 2010) explores overlooked formulations of early twentieth century Zionism. By illuminating the diversity of Zionist ideologies before the establishment of the state in 1948, the book demonstrates the importance of expanding our understanding of Jewish nationalism’s scope and function. My research presents an alternate narrative of Jewish nationalism that situates its evolution in a comparative and transnational perspective. Peoplehood, my current book project, broadens my earlier scholarship by investigating changing historical notions of Jewish collectivity and considering their lessons for July 2013-775contemporary debates about group identity in an era of transnational ties, demographic shifts, and global networks. Both projects rely on archival research, new readings of published sources, and a willingness to consider often taboo topics in Jewish scholarship and public discourse.


  • Bachelor of Arts from Brown University in 1995
  • Doctorate from Yale University in 2004
  • Awarded a Wexner graduate fellowship

Noam @Home

Born in New York City, Noam now lives in Seattle with his wife, Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum,  two daughters, Yona (6) and Mia (4), and son, Elisha (1). In his free time, Noam likes to garden, hike, and ride his pedal assisted electric bicycle. You can find Noam on

Photo Credits

Photo of Noam Pianko: Meryl Schenker
Hans Kohn with Beard on Home Page: Courtesy of Leo Baeck Institute
Hans Kohn Sitting at Desk: Courtesy of Leo Baeck Institute
Mordecai Kaplan on Donkey: Courtesy of Mel Scult
Simon Rawidowicz and Hebrew Class: Courtesy of Simon Rawidowicz Archive