Panel: Louis Brandeis and the Transformation of American Zionism (Brandeis , March 1, 2016)

BrandeisLouis Brandeis and the Transformation of American Zionism: 

Vision, Identity and Legacy

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Rapaporte Treasure Hall,  Goldfarb Library

Brandeis University
This panel discussion is part of Brandeis University’s semester-long centennial celebration of Justice Brandeis’ nomination and appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. The discussion will feature Professors  Jonathan Sarna and Yehudah Mirsky (Brandeis University) and Professor Frances Molina (Wellesley College). Moderated by Brandeis University Interim President, Lisa M. Lynch, with Rabbi David Ellenson and Dr. Rachel Fish (Brandeis University). The event will be live streamed, so join us in person or online.

Opening Remarks:
David Ellenson, Director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies and Visiting Professor in the Department of Near Eastern & Judaic Studies, Brandeis University

Lisa M. Lynch, Interim President of Brandeis University

Roundtable Discussants:
Yehudah Mirsky, Associate Professor of Near Eastern & Judaic Studies
Jonathan D. Sarna ’75 MA ’75, Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History and chair of the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program
Frances Malino MA ’70, PhD ’71, P’89, Sophia Moses Robison Professor of Jewish Studies and History, Wellesley College

Rachel Fish PhD ’13, Associate Director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies

This roundtable conversation will discuss how Louis Brandeis transformed, popularized, and idealized American Zionism in line with his progressive social ideals. Among other things, we expect to look at what was distinctive about Brandeis’s Zionism, how his vision of Zionism was integrated with his understanding of Americanism, and why he believed that Zionism and social justice were intertwined. Attention will also be paid to expressions of American Irish nationalism of the time so that a fuller understanding of the American context that shaped Brandeis’ Zionism can emerge.

The Q&A will incorporate questions from the live audience as well as with an online audience who will be asked to send their questions via email.

Cite: Gal, Brandeis’s Social-Liberal and Zionist Tradition

Gal, Allon. “Isaiah’s Flame: Brandeis’s Social-Liberal and Zionist Tradition.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 11.2 (2012): 207-220.





Louis Dembitz Brandeis (1856–1941) evolved from a political liberal, committed to free competition, hard money and honest government, to become in his maturity a social liberal chiefly pursuing social justice and free speech. In the Supreme Court (1916–1939) he remained faithful to his liberal and progressive parameters. Since about 1905 he evolved from being a half-assimilated Jew to an identified Jew and a Zionist. His original concept of Zionism was as a mission to achieve higher social goals. However, from about the mid-1920s he intensified his Zionism as a vital goal in itself. His synthesis of Progressivism and Zionism gradually came to be the classic tradition of all major American Zionist and pro-Israel trends.