Leon Wieseltier was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1952. He was educated at Columbia University, where he studied philosophy, art history and literature; Balliol College, Oxford, where he studied philosophy; and Harvard University, where he studied Jewish history.
From 1979 to 1982 he was a member of the Society of Fellows at Harvard University. Since 1983 he has been the literary editor of The New Republic. He is the author of “Nuclear War, Nuclear Peace,” “Against Identity” and the highly acclaimed “Kaddish,” which has been translated into many languages.
Wieseltier’s many influential essays — on culture, politics and religion; on foreign policy and national security policy; on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Middle East; on humanitarian intervention and contemporary genocide; and other subjects — have been widely published in the United States and abroad. He has also published translations of modern Hebrew poetry.
Wieseltier has received numerous fellowships and awards. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, Jennifer Bradley, and his son, Matthew Wieseltier.
Honorary Degree Citation
In your compelling philosophical, historical, psychological and spiritual exploration “Kaddish,” you wrote, “I do not intend to be inconsolable, but I do not intend to be deceived.” This defines your role as a public intellectual for our time. Through your many writings, especially your “Washington Diarist” columns in The New Republic that have become mandatory reading for thoughtful citizens, you have taken on the most complex and challenging issues in our society and rendered them understandable to the general public without losing the necessary subtlety and nuance. In your work, the moral and the analytical merge. By taking familiar topics to a deeper level, you ask all of us to examine our thoughts and actions. To view the challenges of our time clearly could leave us without consolation; to deny these challenges is self-deception. You show us that true consolation lies not in self-deception but in unfailing integrity and honest expression.
Brandeis is proud to recognize you with our highest honor.