Wednesday, October 26, 2005

And the rest is history.

From today's New York Times profile of Ben S. Bernanke, President Bush's nominee to replace Alan Greenspan as Chairman of the Federal Reserve:
[As a high school senior Bernanke] applied to Brandeis University, which was founded by Jews and named after Louis D. Brandeis, the first Jewish justice of the Supreme Court. Harvard, which he ended up attending, was an afterthought. . . .

The synagogue in [Bernanke's hometown] was too small to support a full-time rabbi, so a student rabbi conducted services on the High Holy Days and stayed at the Bernanke home. One evening at dinner, the visitor suggested that Ben apply to Harvard.

"We were talking about Brandeis," Mrs. Bernanke recalled, "and the rabbi said, 'If he can get into Brandeis, he can get into Harvard.'"
Yes, Brandeis was once harder to get into than Harvard. However, what really intrigues me is that a rabbi apparently encouraged the young Bernanke to choose Harvard over Brandeis. Considered in the larger context of assimilationism in the American Jewish community, I'd say that's pretty interesting. Perhaps Steve Silver, who knows much more about this topic than I do, can offer some analysis. AMDG.


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