Hadassah-Brandeis Institute

HBI Blog: Fresh Ideas From HBI, Anniversary Edition

collage of images related to HBI, faces, book covers, artwork


Our Origin Story

April 19, 2024

How did HBI begin? 

The genesis of HBI can be traced to a 1995 report of the Hadassah-sponsored National Commission on American Jewish Women, chaired by Brandeis sociologist Shulamit Reinharz, who ultimately became the founding director of HBI. Titled Voices for Change: Future Directions for American Jewish Women, the report summarized existing research and concluded that while information on Jewish women’s history, lives and culture existed, there was a need for robust support for future research. Thanks to a generous endowment from Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, HBI (originally known as the International Research Institute on Jewish Women) opened at Brandeis University in 1997. The mission of HBI was later expanded to include gender more generally. 

Dr. Shulamit Reinharz, the founding director, describes the mission, “Fresh ways of thinking about Jews and gender worldwide – producing and promoting scholarly research, artistic projects and public engagement,” as broad and “multidimensional” so that it encourages “every field of inquiry.”

Listen to Shulamit Reinharz, founding director, tell HBI’s origin story. 

Happy Anniversary HBI!

April 18, 2024

During these 25 days, we will feature testimonials from people who tell their own HBI stories. Today, we hear from Rachel Barenbaum, 2022 HBI Scholar in Residence, and author of A Bend in the Stars (2019) and Atomic Anna (2022). She reflects on HBI’s influence on her work.

Lisa Fishbayn Joffe

Dr. Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, Shulamit Reinharz Director of HBI

April 17, 2024

Twenty-five years ago, in a small office at Brandeis, the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute opened its doors to a single scholar, published one book, and gave out 20 HBI Research Awards. Read more from HBI Director Dr. Lisa Fishbayn Joffe