Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Uniontown, Fayette County
Friedman, author of books such as Jews and the American Slave Trade, was a professor of Jewish history and related courses at Youngstown State University.
Awards: Emmy Award
Jewish Studies scholar and Holocaust expert Saul S. Friedman was born in Fayette County in 1937. Educated at Kent State and Ohio State Universities, Friedman worked for a time as a social worker, before becoming a history professor at Youngstown State University (YSU) in 1969. He received numerous literary and community honors during his career, winning five regional Emmy Awards for the documentaries he had produced and receiving a large endowment in recognition of his first 10 books and the Judaic Studies they aimed to incite. In all, he wrote 12 books. Friedman retired from Youngstown State University in 2006 and on March 31, 2013, at age 76.
Saul S. Friedman was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, on March 8, 1937. He was the son of Albert and Rebecca Friedman. After high school, Friedman enrolled at Kent State University, earning his BA summa cum laude in 1959. He immediately plunged into graduate work, taking classes at Harvard University and Dropsie College before earning his MA at Ohio State University. Instead of teaching at the college level thereafter, Friedman became a social worker, first in Columbus and then in Cleveland, for a four-year period. During that time he met and married Nancy Evans in October 1964. The couple had two children: Jonathan and Molly. He returned to Ohio State for his Ph.D., supporting himself with instructorships at other local colleges until he graduated in 1969. From that point forward, Friedman was a fixture in the Youngstown State University (YSU) History Department, as well as active in Jewish-oriented local organizations.
Friedman was among the early pioneers of Holocaust Studies in the United States, implementing one of the first Holocaust courses in the nation at YSU. He produced, wrote, and narrated 13 documentaries on Jewish and Holocaust experiences, receiving a regional Emmy Award for excellence five different times for his documentaries. He wrote numerous articles for national publications such as Jewish Frontier and Midstream. During the course of his academic career, he wrote a number of books related to Jewish History, including three that relate to the Jewish experience in the United States: No Haven for the Oppressed (1973), The Incident at Massena (1978), and Jews and the American Slave Trade (1998). Half of his works relate directly to the Holocaust: Pogromschik (1976), Amcha (1979), The Oberammergau Passion Play (1984), The Terezin Diary of Gonda Redlich (1992), Holocaust Literature (1993), and A History of the Holocaust (2004). Friedman also turned his attention to the Middle East in: Land of Dust (1982) and Without Future (1989), and A History of the Middle East (2006.).
The recognition of his early work came in 2000, when he received an endowment from the Clayman Family of Youngstown to establish a Judaic Studies program at YSU. His efforts led to the creation of the YSU Judaic and Holocaust Studies program, for which he served as director. These, among many other contributions, led the Clayman Family of Youngstown to donate $500,000 to the YSU Jewish Studies program and to make Friedman the first Clayman Professor of Judaic and Holocaust Studies. Over the course of his career, he had been honored six times with Youngstown State’s Distinguished Professor Award and with the Ohio Humanities Council’s 1998 Richard Bjornson Lifetime Achievement Award for Service to the Humanities. He served as a leader in the Youngstown chapter of the Zionist Organization of American and as a trustee for the Lillian Schermer Charitable Foundation, and was instrumental in dedicating a Holocaust Memorial at the Youngstown Jewish Community Center. His impact in his community was acknowledged with the Guardian of the Menorah Award from B’Nai B’rith and the Triumphant Spirit Award from the Youngstown Jewish Community Relations Council.
Friedman also established a Jewish student group on the YSU campus and contributed significantly to the development of the first summer archaeological dig itinerary at the University of Western Galilee, a pilot program that began a series of exchanges with Israeli students and YSU students on a regular basis.
Saul S. Friedman retired from Youngstown State University in 2006. On March 31, 2013, his battle with Parkinson's Disease ended, and he passed away at age 76 in Canfield, Ohio. He is survived by his wife, Nancy; his children, Jonathan Friedman (wife Leslie Rylke) Dr. Molly Friedman and Jason (Nicole) Friedman; and grandchildren, Maya and Tess Rylke-Friedman, Rebekkah Verdun and Noah and Liam Friedman. He is also survived by his sister, Rosalind Black.
No Haven for the Oppressed: Official American Policy Toward European Jewish Refugees, 1938-1945. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1973.
Pogromschik: The Assassination of Simon Petlura. New York: Hart Publishing, 1976.
The Incident at Massena: The Blood Libel in America. New York:
Amcha: An Oral Testament of the Holocaust. Washington: UP of America, 1979.
Land of Dust: Palestine at the Turn of the Century. Washington: UP of America, 1982.
The Oberammergau Passion Play: A Lance Against Civilization. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1984.
Without Future: The Plight of Syrian Jewry. New York: Praeger, 1989.
The Terezin Diary of Gonda Redlich. (editor) Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 1992.
Holocaust Literature: A Handbook of Critical, Historical, and Literary Writings. (editor) Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1993.
Jews and the American Slave Trade. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1998.
A History of the Holocaust. Portland: Vallentine Mitchell, 2004.
A History of the Middle East. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, 2006.