Thoughts on the Spring 2013 issue

It goes without saying, so I shall say it, that EVERY Brandeis Magazine fills me with nostalgia, Brandeis being a part of my genetic DNA!

Larry Fuchs was one of my all-time favorites — indeed, for those of us in the ’50s, he was everyone’s favorite. He co-taught Soc Sci II with three or four others, including Max Lerner as “lead” and Leonard Levy. The lecture was in Nathan Seifer Hall in the “late” Ford Hall. They would come in from the wings, sit on the edge of the stage, and begin a dialogue, often about contemporary events of the day, with back-and-forth exchanges. Max was, of course, the most incisive, but it was Larry’s hearty laugh that I most remember. Each had their own distinctive personality — which was my inspiration as class agent provocateur for, on the last day of the class, when they came in, several of us were seated on the edge of the stage, each playing the distinctive role of the faculty. Max fell apart; Larry, uproarious.

Henry Grossman ’58 began, as I recall, as a protege of the then “official” campus photographer, Ralph Norman. It was quickly apparent that he was far more incisive and creative than Ralph — and Ralph did not like the competition, especially when it came to taking pictures of Dr. Sachar, who never met a camera he didn’t enjoy. So there was something of a rivalry. As the article indicates, Henry went on to far greater achievements.

All in all, a typically wonderful edition.

Robert N. (Robin) Brooks ’57
Brandeis University Fellow
Amherst, Mass.

The sordid side of Playboy Enterprises

Brandeis’ decision to honor Christie Hefner ’74 by highlighting her achievements in Brandeis Magazine troubles me. I recognize that Brandeis has the right to do so, and I would object to any governmental effort to prevent it from doing so, but, ultimately, the university made this decision. My objection? Fundamentally, Ms. Hefner’s success comes at a great cost — the subjugation of women.

Ms. Hefner, by all accounts, is a brilliant woman who has donated generously to progressive causes and progressive politics, including raising over $30 million to assist people with AIDS. Highly commendable. But it is the other aspect of her life that deeply troubles me — the use of the porn industry to make a fortune. I am not just talking about Playboy magazine — rather, I am talking about what Brandeis’ article chose not to reveal: Playboy Enterprises’ investment in the hard-core porn industry under Ms. Hefner’s direction.

Under Ms. Hefner, Playboy Enterprises bought Club Jenna and Spice Networks, two companies that distribute hard-core pornography. Club Jenna is an entertainment management company formed by adult film industry megastar Jenna Jameson, and Spice Networks is a group of pornographic pay-per-view channels available worldwide. Playboy Enterprises also has entered into agreements with Google TV to offer sexually explicit content to subscribers.

The article intentionally overlooked the more sordid side of the work of this Brandeis alum. The rest of us are left wondering why.

Marc Dubin ’78, Esq.
Executive Director, Communities Against Violence Network (
Former Special Counsel, Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice

Lawrence Fuchs’ reach

I read with interest your Spring 2013 piece “Valuing Friendship, Repairing the World,” on the life and contributions of the late Lawrence H. Fuchs. Although I never had the opportunity to meet Professor Fuchs, I became greatly imprinted on him when I first moved to Hawaii in 1971 and read (and reread) his powerful work “Hawaii Pono” (1961). Because of his excellent scholarship, he was able to deal with delicate subjects in a fair and objective fashion. Over the more than 50 years since its publication, “Hawaii Pono” remains the best social history of Hawaii. I regret that this singular book was not referred to in either your coverage or that of The New York Times.

A personal vignette: Bernard Osher, the founder and patron of our foundation, received an honorary degree at Brandeis in 2004. On leaving our offices for the airport, Mr. Osher asked me if there was anything he could do for me at Brandeis (which is a longstanding Osher Foundation grantee). I immediately took “Hawaii Pono” from my bookshelf and said how much I would love to have it autographed by Professor Fuchs. With the assistance of Barbara Rosenberg ’54, who, with her husband, traveled with the Oshers to Waltham for the commencement exercises, Mr. Osher returned with a signed copy. A couple of weeks later, I received a handwritten note from Professor Fuchs, apologizing that his hand moved a bit while he was inscribing my book and caused a smudge. I will always treasure my autographed copy of “Hawaii Pono” and the lovely letter from Professor Fuchs.

Brandeis was most fortunate to have a gentleman scholar of Dr. Fuchs’ stature on its faculty for half a century.

Mary G.F. Bitterman
President, The Bernard Osher Foundation
San Francisco, Calif.