Marshall Sklare was one of the first major sociologists of America's Jews. Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Sklare received his undergraduate education at the city's College of Jewish Studies and Northwestern University, graduating from both institutions in 1943. In 1948, he received a Master's degree in Sociology from the University of Chicago, before eventually receiving his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1953.
Sklare published his first book, Conservative Judaism: An American Religious Movement, in 1955 but did not initially take a faculty position at a university. Instead, he worked for the American Jewish Committee, eventually becoming the director of the organization's Division of Scientific Research. In 1966, Sklare left the American Jewish Committe to teach at Yeshiva University and Princeton Theological Seminary.
In 1969, Sklare moved to Brandeis University as a Visiting Professor, eventually becoming a permanant Professor of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. While at Brandeis, Sklare published several influential books and articles including America's Jews (1971). Sklare also developed and directed Brandeis' Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, the first center focusing on the multi-disciplinary study of Jewish life in America, which opened in 1980 and remains a fixture on campus.