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Helene Gollub

May 2024

Brandeis extends transfer deadline, appealing to Jewish students distressed by campus anti-Israel unrest

(JTA)-Brandeis University, the historically Jewish school outside Boston, has extended its transfer application deadline in a bid to appeal to students who are unhappy with their own schools' responses to campus anti-Israel protests.

The university announced the decision on Monday, as encampment protests spread from Columbia University to campuses across the United States. The protests, which take aim at the schools' ties to Israel, are spurred by the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza and have in some places included rhetoric that veers into antisemitism. Jewish groups and some Jewish students say the protests have left Jewish and pro-Israel students unsafe and unable to take part in campus activities.

"As a university founded in 1948 by the American Jewish community to counter antisemitism and quotas on Jewish enrollment in higher education, Brandeis has been committed to protecting the safety of all its students, and, in the current atmosphere, we are proud of the supports we have in place to allow Jewish students to thrive," Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz wrote in an email to the community. "Due to the current climate on many campuses around the world, we are now expanding the opportunity for students to seek the learning environment of our campus by extending the transfer application deadline to May 31."

Brandeis made headlines shortly after Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on Israel, which killed 1,200 people and triggered the war, when a portion of its student government failed to pass a resolution condemning Hamas. But the broader student government soon reversed course, and in November, the school became the first to ban its chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, saying that the group "openly supports Hamas" - a departure from other schools that have since suspended the group for technical offenses against protest policies.

About a third of students at Brandeis, which is nonsectarian, identify as Jewish, according to Hillel International.

"Students elsewhere should know we welcome all - Jews and students from every background - who seek an excellent undergraduate education and an environment striving to be free of harassment and Jew-hatred to apply," Liebowitz wrote.

April 2024

Driving Mrs. Roosevelt

Photo/Courtesy of the Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department, Brandeis
Eleanor Roosevelt, a founding Brandeis Trustee, speaks with a student in 1951 as Brandeis' founding president, Abram Sachar, looks on.

Story By Allen Secher '56

For five days in 1955, I was in the driver's seat and former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt sat by my side.

This unlikely pairing was due to Brandeis, of course. One of my student jobs was working as a campus guide in the Public Relations Department. During graduation week, my responsibilities expanded to serving as a chauffeur for visiting dignitaries. A member of the university's Board of Trustees, Mrs. R, would be coming to campus for the Commencement festivities and a board meeting.

As graduation approached, I begged, pleaded with and cajoled the PR director to let me be the one to drive her. With some hesitancy, he gave in.

Day one arrived... ( TO READ FULL STORE - CLICK HERE!)

March 2024

Brandeis students take action in advocacy course

Lobbying for change: Brandeis students take action in advocacy course
Each spring, Brandeis students vie for a spot in Advocacy for Policy Change, a course that gives them the opportunity to lobby for the passage of a bill at the Massachusetts State House.

The course, taught by professor Melissa Stimell, is a part of ENACT: The Educational Network for Active Civic Transformation, a national, nonpartisan program engaging undergraduates at colleges and universities in state-level legislative change by working with legislators, staffers, and community organizers to advance policy.

The course at Brandeis is a part of the EDUCATIONAL NETWORK FOR ACTIVE CIVIC TRANSFORMATION. This is a nonpartisan college program for undergrads.

After starting the semester with a survey regarding their passions and interests, students are paired into teams and assigned a bill that’s currently being lobbied before the State House

Two Brandeis students, Arianna Jackson and Dalia Moran, were assigned to lobby for an Act promoting access to midwifery care and out - of-hospital births. Jackson is Black and has interest in Black woman Health. Moran is interested in future policy work.

Throughout the semester, students learn the ins and outs of legislative advocacy, developing a storybook of interviews, creating a media campaign, and pitching their bill to other members of the class. Student teams are then paired with a legislative mentor and/or a member of an advocacy organization, and strive to progress their bill.

Jackson and Moran were paired with Massachusetts Senator Becca Rausch, Brandeis class of'01, the first Jewish woman to host her seat.

Jackson and Moran said that working with Senator Rausch made them hopeful for their future careers and to be a voice for the people in their communities.

Professor Stimell said that these classes leave the students much more confident and informed than when they started.

February 2024

Brandeis report: Rebuilding Black-Jewish Ties Through Education

Rochelle Ford and Rachel Fish
Rebuilding Black-Jewish Ties Through Education

Rochelle Ford is President of Dillard University, a Historically Black School Rachel Fish is the Special Advisor to the President of Brandeis University.

As the war with Hamas continues, social media continues to offer a look into relations between Jewish and Black Americans.

Many sites are filled with hateful speech by young African American leaders who repeat the slogan, "From the River to the Sea!", a call for elimination of Israel and the Jews. This then leads to Jewish groups to express their anger and feeling of isolation which strenthens their resistance.

The tension between Jews and Black runs deep. Rev. Martin Luther King and Rabbi Abraham Heschel worked together to try to heal these negative attitudes, but much work remains.

Dr. King was an ardent supportier of the Zionist movement, saying "We must stand with all our might to protect Israe's right to exist." Unfortunately, that is ignored by extremist Blacks and many college students today.

Heschel and King personified what it meant to stand in a deep and powerful relationship in which each recognized the hardships and inequality faced by the other.

However, in the 1980's, the Civil Rights Movement and this symbiotic relationship began to fall apart under the stress of the Middle East relationships and urban strife, eventually leading to the virulent words of Kanye West and the situation we see today.

The strain of the 80's led Dillard University to establish the National Center for Black and Jewish relationships. The Center at the Historically Black Dillard College in New Orleans was the first of its kind. Dillard was among the first of Black schools to hire Jewish scholars who were refugees from the Holocaust.

This type of center needs to exist more than ever, and earlier this year Dillard reestablished the Center.

Oppression on the basis of skin color does not address the complex dynamics between Jews and Blacks. How can the complexity of racial and religious identity politics be combatted?

Education is the answer. Rebuilding the bonds between blacks and Jews requires conversation, education, and action.

Institutions like Dillard and Brandeis play a pivotal role in this dialogue. The reestablishment of the National Center for Black-Jewish Relationships and the Brandeis symposium for university administrators are a start.

"Speech has Power.", Rabbi Herschel said. We need to return to discussing issues instead of each faction shouting the other down.

January 2024

New Brandeis survey of 51 colleges assesses Jewish students’ experiences of antisemitism

The survey of nearly 2000 Jewish undergraduates in 51 U.S. schools was carried out between November 19 and December 11. It was timed to measure the impact of the Hamas attack on October 7. The students surveyed were selected from Birthright applicants and the study was conducted online.

The 51 schools were divided into 4 categories from most to least hostile antisemitic environments.

The worst offenders

The 12 schools with the “highest levels of antisemitic hostility” out of the 51 surveyed, in alphabetical order, were:

Boston University
George Washington University
New York University
Ohio State-Columbus
Queens College (part of the City University of New York)
UC-San Diego
University of Pennsylvania
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The other 39 schools

At the other end of the scale, the 13 schools listed as having the least antisemitic hostility, were:

California Polytechnic State University
Florida Atlantic University
Florida State
Penn State
University of Central Florida
University of Colorado-Boulder
University of Delaware
University of Florida
University of Miami
Washington University (in St. Louis)

In the second-best category, the 13 schools with "below average" levels of antisemitic hostility were:

Indiana University-Bloomington
Michigan State
San Diego State
University of Arizona
University of Georgia
University of Maryland-College Park
University of Pittsburgh
University of Texas-Austin
University of Virginia

And just ahead of the worst offenders were 13 schools with the second-highest levels of antisemitic hostility:

Baruch College (part of CUNY)
Binghamton University (part of the State University of New York)
UC-Santa Barbara
University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign
University of Massachusetts-Amherst
University of Southern California
University of Vermont.

Most hostility comes from other students. Eight out of 10 students at the most hostile schools said that hostility came from other students, while 30% said it came from faculty.

A third of students at those high-hostility schools said they felt like they "very much" belonged on campus, and only a quarter felt safe or comfortable. In contrast, 43% of Jewish students at schools categorized as least hostile felt "very" safe, nearly half felt "very" comfortable, and more than half said they felt "very much" like they belonged.

At schools with higher levels of antisemitic hostility, 24% of students said they've experienced antisemitism in person on campus. But even at the schools with the lowest levels of antisemitic hostility, 14% percent of students reported encountering an antisemitic insult or antisemitic harassment in person in the past three months.

Most of the hostility mentioned came from other students, while 30% was from faculty members at these "worst offender" schools.

24% of students report that they have experienced hostility in person.

Even at the schools with the lowest level of hostility, 14% of students experienced an antisemitic insult or harassment.

The survey also found that students were more concerned about antisemitism from the political left than from the political right.

Brandeis has periodically been conducting similar surveys for 20 years. Some levels of antisemitism reported in this survey were twice what the last survey detected in 2016.

The goal of the survey was to help campuses become safe places for Jewish students.

December 2023

Christine Grienberger wins New Innovator Award, $1.5 million from NIH

Assistant Professor of Biology and neuroscientist Christine Grienberger has been named a recipient of a New Innovator Award and $1.5 million in research funding by the National Institutes of Health.

The funding will support research that examines the underlying processes in the entorhinal-hippocampal circuit, a network of brain regions severely affected by Alzheimer's disease, the neuropsychiatric disorder that is associated with devastating memory, learning, and other cognitive impairments.

"I am incredibly grateful to the NIH for their interest and for their support of our research. The brain's ability to learn allows us all to thrive in a complex, ever-changing environment, yet how the brain accomplishes this task is not well understood"Grienberger said. "It is very exciting to see the growing interest in this important area of investigation, and my team and I are thrilled to get started working on this project."

Grienberger's team examines the neural mechanisms of learning, seeking a deeper understanding of the synaptic, cellular, and circuit-level computations that allow the brain to produce complex adaptive behaviors. Her lab uses state-of-the-art experimental techniques.

The New Innovator Award supports exceptionally creative early career investigators who propose innovative, high-impact projects in the biomedical, behavioral, or social sciences. The grant will support research on the entorhinal cortex and its interaction with the hippocampus to drive learning and memory formation. A deeper understanding of the flow of information in the entorhinal-hippocampal network will shed new light on the basis for understanding how the brain performs all complex tasks that depend upon learning.

Grienberger was named a Pew Biomedical Scholar by the Pew Charitable Trusts earlier this year and was also selected for a Sloan Research Fellowship by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in 2023.

November 2023

Setting the Record Straight

Dear BNC members,

This week, several media outlets reported inaccurate and misleading information on Brandeis' position on the Israel-Hamas war. I'd like to set the record straight.

First off, Brandeis stands with Israel. I was one of the first university leaders to condemn Hamas and its terrorist actions on October 7. Earlier this week, I reiterated to our community that Brandeis supports Israel and its right to defend itself, and that this will not change.

At the time of our initial response, the Boston Globe wrote "Universities were engulfed by controversy this week over how their leaders responded to Hamas's Saturday attack on Israeli civilians. Brandeis University was an exception. The Waltham school's president, Ronald Liebowitz, quickly and clearly denounced Hamas's attack, which included militants gunning down families in their homes, as 'terrorism' in a campus-wide missive sent around 6 p.m. the same day."

Earlier this week, inaccurate media reports suggested the opposite of our clearly worded statements on the Israel-Hamas War. They also inaccurately characterized a student senate vote on whether to issue a declaration condemning Hamas, which had more to do with process, than with the stance of the student senate or union. To be clear: The student union has not issued any statement in support of Hamas.

In fact, yesterday the Brandeis Student Union decided to strongly condemn Hamas, and it has communicated its stance to the Brandeis community, and the media more broadly. In addition, more than a thousand Brandeis students and other community members, and growing, have been circulating a statement condemning the acts of terror perpetrated against Israel and the Jewish people. These actions by our students set us apart from other institutions; reports to the contrary are simply not credible.

Since our founding by the American Jewish community in 1948, our campus has been a haven for Jewish students to feel comfortable living as their true selves. This will always be the case.

Ron Liebowitz


Professor Yehudah Mirsky is a faculty member at the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis U.

Professor Mirsky was in Israel on Oct. 7 during the violent attack by Hamas.
These are some of his reflections on that day.
"We were awakened on Shabbat morning by sirens. We entered a changing world."

Professor Mirsky stated, "The sense of shock is overwhelming, in many ways worse than the Yom Kippur War of 1973, including the surprise attack, the gruesome civilian casualties, all the Hamas atrocities, and mistrust of the Netanyahu government.

Ironically, the communities near Gaza are considered left of center politically. People there have been involved in peace and coexistence work.

Many innocents, both Israeli and Israeli Palestinians, are undergoing great suffering.

Professor Mirsky states, "There's no turning away from the horrors here. Even now, Jewish morality has to guide us, especially as Israel's assault on Gaza nears. Many Palestinian innocents are in harm's way because that is exactly where Hamas wants them to be.

There are many groups in Jerusalem working on preparing for the war. Food drives, equipment drives, military and civilian counseling, babysitting for families called up for service, housing for evacuees... It is a long and frustrating haul ahead.

There is no turning away from seeing the awful harvest of the antisemitic hatred that is all over the world."

Professor Mirsky shares that the Judaic Studies keep awake the richness of Jewish history, offering some of the most powerful chapters in human thought and experience and all they have to teach us today.

When Sharon Cohen and Honey Bencomo visiting Brandeis University. they hiked up the hill so they could be near justice Brandeis's statue. Today on Facebook somebody wrote what was at the bottom of the statue on a plaque which they never noticed. We are sharing this with you.

Tikkun Olam
A pansecterian University that one day will embrace the concept of a school of law and social justice.

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Here's a link to the campus drone tour.

The Brandeis Beginnings Tidbits:

Brandeis University is the youngest private research university in the United States and is the only nonsectarian college or university in the nation founded by the American Jewish Community

Albert Einstein was one of the original planners of Brandeis University

Eleanor Roosevelt was a member of the faculty, teaching a course on international affairs that drew on her experience as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. She was also the first Commencement speaker, for the class of 1952

The University's first professor of music and director of the School of Creative Arts was composer Leonard Bernstein. While at Brandeis, Bernstein debuted Trouble in Tahiti on June 12, 1952 as part of the first Creative Arts Festival

Notable alumni: Tony Goldwyn '82 actor, director, producer, starred in such cinematic hits as: Ghost, Tarzan, The Pelican Brief and Kiss the Girls. His directorial works include:: Someone like you and A Walk on the Moon.

Brandeis University counts among its alumni five Pulitzer Prize winners, a Nobel laureate and several Emmy Award-winning actors, broadcasters and producers.

Located in Waltham, Massachusetts, Brandeis University is ranked in the top tier of universities in the country. Founded in 1948 and named for the late Justice Louis Dembitz Brandeis of the U.S. Supreme Court, it is the only nonsectarian, Jewish-founded university in the country, known for its academic excellence and ideals of social justice. At the same time as Brandeis' founding, eight women from Boston, all leaders in the community, were asked to help in supporting this new university. They were given the task of building on the collection of 2,000 books in the Library, which was housed in a converted horse stable. The dedication and perseverance of these women, who now called themselves the National Women's Committee continues today, sixty years later, as the Brandeis National Committee. With over 70 chapters nationwide and over 39,000 members, BNC is one of the largest and most successful "friends of a library" organizations in the world. Over the years, we have placed over one million books in the Students with Dr. Ludwig Lewisohn, J.M. Kaplan Professor Comparative Literature March 25, 1953 Brandeis libraries, and raised over $100 million for Brandeis University and its libraries, scholarship and research. Brandeis University has become one of the youngest private research universities, with ground-breaking exploration in neurodegenerative and age-related diseases.

(IMAGE: Students with Dr. Ludwig Lewisohn, J.M. Kaplan Professor Comparative Literature March 25, 1953)

Now after almost 70 years, Brandeis University has become well established, renowned for its academic excellence and celebrated for its ideals of social justice. But when Brandeis first opened its library doors in the fall of 1948, it was not the best of times for this unique university...yet. Brandeis's book collection was meager, only 2,000 volumes, and was housed in, of all places, a converted horse stable! This was Brandeis's infancy, though, and the nation's only Jewish-sponsored, non-sectarian University h ad an incredible challenge ahead.

Eleanor Roosevelt—Lecture for General Education Class April 17, 1958 It would be an extraordinary task to create a library that could barely compete, let alone compete well, with the "old ivies" in New England. Brandeis was determined to be first rate. Remarkably, eight women would answer this challenge. Their loyalty to this unproven university came from a different breed of faith: both to the Jewish community at large, and to education itself. They called themselves the National Women's Committee, and what they would work to achieve was no less than amazing.

(IMAGE: Eleanor Roosevelt—Lecture for General Education Class April 17, 1958)

Sixty years later, the Brandeis University National Women's Committee is a thriving, vital part of both Brandeis and its library fundraising efforts. We are now one of the largest, most successful "friends of a library" organizations in the world. With members in chapters across the country, the National Women's Committee has raised millions for Brandeis University research program and its libraries.


~~ Brandeis was founded in 1948 as a non-sectarian, coeducational institution sponsored by the Jewish community.
~~ Brandeis was established on the site of the former Middlesex University.
~~ Brandeis University was named for Justice Louis D. Brandeis, who was the first Jewish Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
~~ Brandeis First President - Abram L. Sachar -1948-1968
~~ Famous Professors who taught at Brandeis - Eleanor Roosevelt, Leonard Bernstein, Anita Hill
~~ Brandeis Motto - In Hebrew - Emet - In English it means - Truth even unto its innermost parts
~~ Brandeis Colors - Blue and White
~~ Nickname - Judges
~~ Mascot - Ollie the Owl - named for Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Justice Louis D. Brandeis -
"Our government teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy."