History

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, originally known as the International Research Institute on Jewish Women, opened at Brandeis University in January 1997. The Institute, established with a generous grant from Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America Inc., represented a bold venture for both Brandeis University and Hadassah.

The idea for a research institute on Jewish women and gender issues originated in Voices for Change: Future Directions for American Jewish Women (1995), a report of the Hadassah-sponsored National Commission on American Jewish Women. The report highlighted the fact that research is just beginning on Jewish women’s history, lives and culture. Hadassah took up the challenge to help make this new field flourish by committing substantial resources to the creation of the institute.

The institute has several defining characteristics. It is international and interdisciplinary, and incorporates Jewish women’s issues and gender issues in diverse contexts. Our activities include initiating and supporting research projects, holding conferences and seminars, creating a monograph series and working in many other ways to enhance information about and understanding of Jewish women and Jewish gender issues. Many of our activities are carried out in partnership with other universities and organizations. Some of our work is undertaken by research associates who work at locations other than Brandeis University. We have extensive relations with scholars in Israel and in other countries.

A free-standing research enterprise that represents the highest academic and cultural standards, the institute is guided by a board of directors and by advisory committees composed of scholars, students and prominent individuals.

Brandeis University

Characterized by academic excellence since its founding in 1948, Brandeis is one of the youngest private research universities, as well as the only nonsectarian Jewish-sponsored college or university in the country. Named for the late Justice Louis Dembitz Brandeis of the U.S. Supreme Court, Brandeis University combines the faculty and resources of a world-class research institution with the intimacy and personal attention of a small liberal arts college. Brandeis is ranked in the top tier of the nation's universities.

Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America, Inc.

Hadassah was founded in 1912 by Henrietta Szold. Since its inception, Hadassah has remained unwavering in its devotion to Judaism, Zionism and American ideals. As the largest volunteer organization and the largest women's organization in America, Hadassah is committed to strengthening the unity of the Jewish people. In Israel, we accomplish this through progressive healthcare, education, youth institutions, volunteerism and land reclamation. In the U.S., we reach our goals through Jewish and Zionist education programs, Zionist Youth programs and health awareness programs, as well as by advocating for issues of importance to women and to the American Jewish community.