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"The People's Attorney": Zionism

Until nearly the age of 50, Brandeis held little interest in organized religion. Though raised in a highly ethical household, he knew little of the Jewish faith, and he remained distant from his Jewish background for much of his adult life. As he came to occupy more of the public eye, however, several factors combined to alter his perspective. Brandeis was subject to personal attacks in the press, many focusing upon his religious identity. Over time, Brandeis’ involvement with groups such as the Jewish workers involved in the New York Garment Strike of 1910 increased his awareness of the Jewish community’s needs. Through this heightened concern for American Jewry, and through contacts with people such as Jacob de Haas, Brandeis took an interest in Zionism and soon became an ardent supporter, and then an internationally recognized leader of the movement. Elected Chair of the Provisional Committee for General Zionist Affairs in 1914, Brandeis revitalized the American movement with new leadership strategies, public appearances and popular publications like “The Jewish Problem: How to Solve it.” Despite the limits placed upon his actions by his official status as a Supreme Court Justice, after 1916 he continued to act privately to support the Zionist cause. With the end of the First World War, Brandeis sent several delegates to the Paris Peace Conferences, including de Haas and Felix Frankfurter, to help urge the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Brandeis himself traveled to Paris and then to the Middle East during the summer of 1919. Despite disputes with the newly formed World Zionist Organization, Brandeis remained a presence in the movement for the rest of his life.

“Call to the Educated Jew,” first published in 1914. One of the more well-known Zionist pamphlets penned by Brandeis.

The Map of Eretz-Israel Republic. Drawn in Rumania in 1919, this map shows a proposed Jewish homeland in Palestine, with Brandeis as its first president.

Brandeis on the cover of the Zionist periodical, The Maccabean. July 1916

Louis D. Brandeis and Dr. Jonas Friedenwald in Palestine (July, 1919).

A postcard series of major figures in Jewish history, produced by Tausner’s Book Store in New York City

America’s Tribute: Louis D. Brandeis Colony in Palestine

Draft copy of a Brandeis speech on Zionism.

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