Henry Abramson was born and raised in Iroquois Falls, Ontario. He received his doctorate in history from the University of Toronto in 1995, studying under Professor Paul Robert Magocsi, earning the first PhD in Ukrainian-Jewish history awarded since the establishment of the Chair of Ukrainian Studies there. His research was also supervised by Professor Michael Marrus and Professor Zvi Gitelman.
Abramson was named to the Shevchenko Scientific Society in 1999.
He was Assistant and later Associate Professor of History/Jewish Studies at Florida Atlantic University from 1996-2006 and during that time held appointments at a number of institutions including Oxford University, Cornell University, Harvard University, and Hebrew University. While teaching at Hebrew University, he simultaneously attended the class taught by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach at Ohr Somayach, Jerusalem.His study partners there included Rabbi Natan Gamedze. As Associate Professor and University Library Scholar of Judaica, he worked with the large collection of Yiddish materials in the Wimberly Library, and in this capacity he founded the Kultur Festival of Yiddish Culture in Boca Raton.
In 2006, Abramson moved to his position at Touro College South. Since 2015 he serves as Dean of the Avenue J campus of Touro College in Brooklyn, New York.
Henry Abramson is largely known for his scholarship in Ukrainian Jewish history and antisemitic iconography, but his interests also include the history of Orthodox Judaism, the Talmud and the Haskalah. He authored the "Ukraine" entry in The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe as well as the "Zionist movement" entry in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine. Abramson also was curator for an exhibit on the history of antisemitic iconography in Florida entitled "The Art of Hatred". He has written two introductory books directed toward general audiences about the Talmud and lectures regularly at Touro College South about the history of Orthodox Judaism.
Abramson has also been a popularizer of Jewish thought, publishing a primer of Talmud and other works on the Jewish intellectual tradition. He is also known for his research on the development of five major narratives for Jewish national identity, first presented at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan in 2003 (Citation: “The End of Intimate Insularity: New Narratives of Jewish History in the Post-Soviet Era,” Construction and Deconstruction of National Identities in Post-Soviet Eurasia, ed. Tadayuki Hayashi, Sapporo: Hokkaido University, 2003, 87-115.) and for his work on Rabbi Kalonymus Kalmish Shapiro, a Hasidic Rabbi active in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust. In 2014, Abramson published "The Kabbalah of Forgiveness: The Thirteen Levels of Mercy", a translation of Tomer Devorah by Moses Cordovero ("Date Palm of Devorah")Distinguished Honors Professor of the Year, University Scholars Program, Florida Atlantic University, 2002.
Kathleen Raymond Award for Excellence in Teaching, IMPAC Award (Individuals Making Personal and Academic Contributions), Florida Atlantic University, 2001.
Distinguished Professor of the Year, Phi Alpha Theta History Honors Society, Xi Omega Chapter, Florida Atlantic University, 2001.
Excellence in the Academy Award (category: The Art of Teaching), National Education Association, 2000.*
1999/2000 Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Florida Atlantic University, 2000.
Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers listing, 2000.
Award for Outstanding Teaching, Life Long Learning Society, Florida Atlantic University,1999.
Abramson has pioneered the development of Jewish education online. His "This Week in Jewish History" videos are a regular feature in Rabbi Gil Student's Torah Musings (Hirhurim) blog as well as Torahcafe. He shares his research in teacher training seminars in Miami.
In addition to "This Week in Jewish History", Abramson also teaches History of the Jewish People for Touro College. This online course has two sections and is designed to be more interactive than the traditional online course. Course information is provided in video format simulating a traditional classroom lecture. Additionally, students are required to take part in group projects. All students have access to the group presentation and submit their work in a cohesive manner with their fellow students, allowing students to engage with one another, an aspect that is traditionally missing from online classes.
He currently teaches a History of the Jewish People II course at Touro College.
Since early 2011, Henry Abramson has been delivering biographical lectures on Jewish leaders, including: Sarah Schenirer, Hannah Szenes, Golda Meir, Evgenia Ginzburg, Emanuel Ringelblum, Shimon Dubnow, Moses Mendelssohn, Nathan of Hanover, Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, Don Isaac Abravanel, Johannes Pfefferkorn, Yehudah Ha-Levi, Rashi, Benjamin of Tudela, Rachel, wife of Rabbi Akiva, Sarah Bernhardt, Leon Trotsky, Shalom Aleichem, Theodor Herzl, Rahel Varnhagen, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Rabbi Yosef Karo, Shabbetai Tsvi, Gluckel of Hameln, The Ba'al Shem Tov, Menachem Begin, Stephen Samuel Wise, Albert Einstein, Betty Friedan, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson and Isaac Bashevis Singer.
Lars Fischer, currently the Academic Director at The Woolf Institute, criticized Abramson's work for privileging claims made by historians largely sympathetic to traditional Ukrainian narratives while claiming to follow the trend of synthesizing of Jewish and Ukrainian historiographical approaches; Abramson, in a rebuttal, rejected this criticism. In a later article, Fischer noted that while he would "now be more prepared to acknowledge the extent to which Abramson has indeed succeeded in creating a historiographical synthesis," he "would add that it is precisely the desire to synthesise rather than radically deconstruct the existing paradigms that is in fact the problem" and still maintains Abramson's "approach fairly consistently privileges and perpetuates the paradigms that traditionally constitute the National Ukrainian approach".