Brandeis-Bardin Institute

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The Brandeis-Bardin Campus of American Jewish University is a Jewish retreat located since 1947 in the northeastern Simi Hills, in the city of Simi Valley, California.[1] Formerly known as the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, it is used for nondenominational summer programs for children, teens, and young adults.[1]


The Brandeis-Bardin Institute was founded in 1941 by Shlomo Bardin, inspired by the ideals of the early Zionist movement and the ideas and financial support of Justice Louis Brandeis.[1] In the 1950s, BBI was known as Brandeis Camp Institute (BCI), with Shlomo Bardin as the Director. The institute branched out into a program for college-aged Jews, now called Brandeis Collegiate Institute, and a summer and winter camp for young people named Alonim.

In 1968 actor James Arness (of Gunsmoke) donated his entire campus adjacent Simi Hills ranch to the Brandeis Bardin Institute, making it the largest parcel of land owned by a Jewish institution outside the State of Israel.[1]

Founder Dr. Shlomo Bardin ran the Institute until 1976. He is buried on the grounds of the Brandeis Bardin Institute. Dennis Prager ran it from 1976 to 1983.[2]

In March 2007, officials from both the Brandeis-Bardin Institute and the University of Judaism, a non-denominational institution of higher education offering undergraduate and graduate degrees along with a rabbinical studies program located in Bel Air, announced they would merge into a new organization called American Jewish University.


Notable people who got their start at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute include Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, the founder of Renewal Judaism; and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

Rabbi Zvi Dershowitz directed the Brandeis-Bardin Institute in the early 1960s, before becoming director of Camp Ramah in California and rabbi at Sinai Temple. In the 1970s Rabbis Abraham Joshua Heschel and Mordecai Kaplan frequented the institute. Later Rabbi Joseph Telushkin would lead a weekly Torah discussion at the House of the Book on the campus, and Dennis Prager would be among the many leaders of the Institute.[3]

Journalist, Daniel Pearl, who was beheaded by Al Qaeda in Pakistan in 2002 (and about whom the Angelina Jolie film A Mighty Heart was made), and his family were long-time supporters of (and campers at) Brandeis.

Filming locations[edit]

The futuristic architecture of the campus's House of the Book, which was designed by architect Sidney Eisenshtat, has appeared as a location in several film and television projects:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d American Jewish History of the Brandeis-Bardin Campus
  2. ^ Karesh, Sara E.; Hurvitz, Mitchell M. (2006). Encyclopedia of Judaism. Facts On File. pp. 402–403. ISBN 978-0-8160-6982-8.
  3. ^ Dennis Prager Biography

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°15′34″N 118°42′47″W / 34.25954°N 118.713166°W / 34.25954; -118.713166