Photo Credit: Courtesy
Brandeis President Ronald D. Liebowitz

Brandeis University, in Waltham Massachusetts, has a lot in common with the Jewish state. Both were founded in 1948, both were founded by Jews, and both were founded for similar reasons; Brandeis was founded specifically to allow Jewish students and faculty opportunities that were denied to them at other universities. The 107 students who attended the first year of the liberal arts research university were taught by many Jewish immigrants, who had been leaders in their fields in Europe.

Brandeis is committed to both academic rigor and justice, both traditionally Jewish goals. Their academic success has been evidenced by graduates meriting many awards and accolades, among them four Nobel prizes in the past twenty years, and surprisingly also an Olympic medal (in fencing).


As part of the university’s 75th anniversary celebrations, Brandeis president Ron Liebowitz and his wife Dr. Jessica Liebowitz hosted a gathering at the Tel Aviv Hilton. Approximately 200 Brandeis alumni, spanning six decades, met to enjoy a buffet, mingle, and hear a panel discussion entitled “Israel and the Diaspora in the 21st Century.” The panel included Major General Amos Gilead, President of Sapir College, Nir Kedar, and journalist Tal Schneider, and was moderated by Professor and former Knesset member Yossi Shain, who is the Israel-based presidential adviser working on the Brandeis Israel initiative.

President Liebowitz welcomed the gathering by elaborating on the university’s plans to strengthen ties to Israeli academic institutions and provided details on the newly introduced programs to address antisemitism on American campuses, supported generously by the Kraft Family Foundation to Combat Antisemitism. He also shared more general updates on faculty accomplishments and student life, during which he noted the diverse and exceptionally vibrant Jewish life on campus.

Although Brandeis has a student body which is now about only 35% Jewish – half of what it used to be in the 1970s, it still offers a rich religious and cultural Jewish life on campus.

Brandeis is inexorably linked to Israel. It was the first American university to offer a department of Judaic Studies (together with Near East studies). A sad but significant fact is that two of the hostages still missing from October 7 – Sagi Dekel Chen, last seen fighting Hamas, and Hersh Goldberg-Polin, are the children of Brandeis graduates.

Liebowitz and his wife, Dr. Jessica Liebowitz are both dedicated to helping support increased research collaborations and educational exchanges with Israeli universities and cultural institutions.

“Our hope,” said Liebowitz, “Is that other institutions will follow suit and pursue meaningful engagement with the Israeli academic community.”


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