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Episode 355 – Ex-Brandeis President on Campus Protests, Weizmann’s Legacy and American Jewry (Prof. Jehuda Reinharz)

On a foggy morning in London, over a century ago, a visionary chemist met with one of Britain’s most influential politicians. This wasn’t just any meeting; it was a pivotal moment that would forever alter the course of Jewish history. Chaim Weizmann, a Russian immigrant and a passionate Zionist, found himself in the drawing room of Lord Arthur James Balfour. Armed with his sharp intellect and relentless drive, Weizmann presented his case for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. His argument was compelling, blending the urgent need for a safe haven for Jews with the potential benefits to the British Empire. This meeting, pivotal in its outcome, led to the historic Balfour Declaration of 1917, which proclaimed British support for the establishment of “a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine.

Today, we delve into this extraordinary story with Professor Jehuda Reinharz, a distinguished historian and former President of Brandeis University. As co-author of the biography “Chaim Weizmann: A Biography,” Professor Reinharz brings us closer to understanding the man behind the political triumph. Through his journey from the shtetls of Belarus to the highest echelons of global politics, Weizmann navigated the turbulent waters of early 20th-century geopolitics with a singular goal: the realization of a Jewish state.

Professor Jehuda Reinharz is currently the Richard Koret Professor of Modern Jewish History at Brandeis University. He served as the President of Brandeis University from 1994 to 2010. Professor Reinharz is the recipient of the President of Israel Prize along with many other awards and accolades, far too long to list. We are thrilled to be joined on the podcast today by Professor Jehuda Reinharz to discuss the life and legacy of Chaim Weizmann, the current state of affairs for Zionism, and of course, as we have one of American academia’s foremost scholars with us, the recent anti-Israel protests across US university campuses. Stay tuned, this episode is sure to be an interesting one.

“Chaim Weizmann: A Biography” on Amazon.