Jehuda Reinharz

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Jehuda Reinharz
7th President of Brandeis University
Term March 1994 – December 31st, 2010
Predecessor Samuel O. Thier
Successor Frederick M. Lawrence
Born (1944-08-01) August 1, 1944 (age 70)
Haifa, Israel
Residence Brookline, MA
Religion Jewish
Spouse Shulamit Reinharz
Children Yael and Naomi

Jehuda Reinharz (born August 1, 1944)[1] is the former President of Brandeis University, where he is Richard Koret Professor of Modern Jewish History and Director of the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry. On September 25, 2009 he announced his resignation as president;[2] but at the request of trustees he stayed on until his replacement, Frederick M. Lawrence, assumed office on Jan. 1, 2011.[3] On January 1, 2011, Reinharz became president of the Mandel Foundation.

Early life and education[edit]

Reinharz was born in Israel. He received his high school education in Germany and immigrated to the United States as a teenager in 1961.

Reinharz earned concurrent bachelor's degrees - a B.S. from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Religious Education (B.R.E) from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He earned his master's degree in medieval Jewish history from Harvard University in 1968, and his Ph.D. in modern Jewish history from Brandeis University in 1972.


He was the first professor of Jewish history at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he created the interdisciplinary program that formed the basis for the University's Frankel Center for Judaic Studies [2].

In 1982, he became the Richard Koret Professor of Modern Jewish History in the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University. Two years later, he was named Director of the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry at Brandeis and eight years later founded the Jacob and Libby Goodman Institute for the Study of Zionism and Israel. From 1991 to 1994, Dr. Reinharz served as Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs.


He was announced as the University's seventh president on March 2, 1994, succeeding Samuel O. Thier. During Reinharz's tenure, the university underwent major physical changes including the construction of the Village Residence Hall, Abraham Shapiro Academic Complex, Carl and Ruth Shapiro Campus Center, Carl Shapiro Science Center, Carl Shapiro Admissions center, Mandel Center for the Humanities, and many other major capital improvements. He raised 1.2 billion dollars during his presidency and more than tripled the endowment.

President Reinharz announced his resignation as President of Brandeis University at midnight on September 25, 2009 after serving the Brandeis community for almost seventeen years. He stayed on as president until a successor was selected and ready to assume office. On January 1, 2011, Reinharz was officially replaced by Frederick M. Lawrence,[2] and on that date he became president of the Mandel Foundation.

Awards and honors[edit]

Reinharz is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, such as the President of Israel Prize, awarded by the Israeli Parliament, Knesset in 1990. He was also elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1995 and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations in 1999.

In 1998, Reinharz was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States.

Dr. Reinharz is the recipient of honorary doctorates from Hebrew Union College, the Jewish Theological Seminary, Fairfield University in Connecticut, Ben Gurion University in Israel, the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, Brandeis University and Hebrew College.


Reinharz is the author of more than one hundred articles and twenty six books in various languages. His Jew in the Modern World is one of the most widely adopted college texts in modern Jewish history. His two-volume biography of Chaim Weizmann, the first president of Israel, has won many prizes in Israel and the United States. His book, co-authored with the late Ben Halpern, entitled Zionism and the Creation of a New Society, was published in 1998. Glorious, Accursed Europe, co-authored with Yaacov Shavit was published in 2010.

His latest six books are published in Hebrew and English. In October 2005 he co-edited the letters and documents relating to the life and times of Manya Shochat, a remarkable pioneer of the Second Aliyah. His book Israel in the Middle East, co-edited with Itamar Rabinovich, was published in 2007; two books, Darwin and Some of His Kind (2009) and The Scientific God (2011), were co-authored with Yaacov Shavit. In 2013 Reinharz co-authored The Road to September 1939, with Yaacov Shavit, as well as Die Sprache der Judenfeindschaft im 21.Jahrhundert, co-authored with Monika Schwarz-Friesel.

Reinharz is currently co-writing a book on the history of the donkey in literature, arguing that the animal is often used as a substitute for people. He has said about the upcoming project: "There are smart donkeys, stupid donkeys, evil donkeys, etc., and no one has ever contemplated this on a large scale... It’s probably the most ambitious topic I have ever contemplated."[4]


Reinharz's presidency was not without controversy. In 2009, under Reinharz's watch, the university board of trustees declared that it might sell some works of art from the Rose Art Museum. This sparked fierce protests from students and other groups, and many have condemned Reinharz's role and the role of the university's board in the potential sale. The university later reconsidered the decision, and the museum did not close.[5] When Reinharz announced his resignation he made it clear that it was not due to the museum controversy.[2]

During Reinharz's tenure as president, a professor at Brandeis named Donald Hindley was penalized by the provost of Brandeis University for mentioning the word "wetback."[6] Foundation for Individual Rights in Education took up Hindley's case and criticized Reinharz for violating academic freedom.


His wife, Shulamit Reinharz, is a professor of sociology at Brandeis University; she founded the Women's Studies Research Center and the Hadassah Brandeis Institute, both of which she currently directs.

Jehuda and Shulamit are the parents of daughters Yael and Naomi Reinharz. Yael attended Bowdoin College and New York University. Naomi attended Brown University and Georgetown Law School.