Leah Newman

Leah Newman ’17

Student Staff Profile

Leah Newman

on Spring Study-Abroad and her 
Great-Grandfather's Vision of a
Jewish University in America

Leah is a Junior at Brandeis University majoring in American Studies and History and minoring in Journalism. She has worked at the Hornstein Program for two years, providing office and research assistance to staff and faculty.

Leah will be studying in London in the spring 2016 as part of the Boston University London Internship Program. There she will be taking courses and working as a public relations intern at a boutique brand consultancy agency.

"I'm looking forward to traveling and the global experience that goes with it. Of course I'll miss Brandeis and Hornstein, and look forward to returning in the fall," she says. We'll miss her too!

Following is an excerpt from one of Leah's papers which she wrote for Professor Jonathan Sarna's class, "American Judaism." The paper, "From Menorah University to Brandeis University: Universalist Values in a Jewish Context," reflects on Rabbi Louis I. Newman, Leah's great-grandfather, and his vision for a Jewish university in America.

The year was 1922. World War I had ended four years earlier, immigrants of the previous decades had assimilated, and American Jewry had begun to thrive as a result of institutional and social advances. As more Jews were born in the United States, Jewish people invested in institutions to ensure the continued success of generations to come. Although youth movements, schools, temples, synagogues, and social organizations grew, American Jewry still lacked a university. After the founding of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Palestine, in 1918, a few American Jewish leaders proposed the a similar institution across the ocean, in the United States. While Jews were not barred from entering secular institutions of higher education, there were unofficial quota systems limiting the number of Jewish students at well-regarded private institutions of higher education, such as Harvard University.

On October 27, 1922, my great-grandfather, Rabbi Louis I. Newman, published an editorial in The Jewish Tribune titled “Is a Jewish University in America Desirable?” Through his arguments, Rabbi Newman championed the importance and necessity for a Jewish-backed non-sectarian university in the United States in order to combat the quota systems in place at collegiate institutions.

This essay about Leah Newman was published in the Hornstein Program's Impact Newsletter, December 2015. If you would like to quote any part of this conversation, please attribute content to Leah Newman and the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University and link to this page. All rights reserved.