This is a 1936 photograph of United States Supreme Court Justice Louis Dembitz Brandeis that appeared in a newspaper. Louis Brandeis was the first Jewish judge on the United States Supreme Court. The sepia-brown photograph shows Brandeis staring straight ahead in a serious pose. Brandeis was 80 years old when the photograph was taken and had been a US Supreme Court judge for 20 years. He is wearing a suit, tie, and judicial robes. Beneath the photograph is a caption from the newspaper stating that Brandeis was 80 years old, was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, and was born in Louisville, Kentucky on November 13, 1856.
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Louis Dembitz Brandeis – Louis Brandeis (1856–1941) was the first Jewish justice on the United States Supreme Court. He was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 and served on the Supreme Court until 1939. Brandeis was born in Louisville, Kentucky to immigrant parents from Bohemia, now the Czech Republic. Brandeis attended Harvard Law School and became a successful Boston lawyer, working on cases concerning progressive social issues and the right to privacy and free speech. Brandeis’ nomination to the Supreme Court was not accepted by all. Some of the objections were due to his progressive political views; others objected to him being Jewish. Brandeis, a secular Jew, became involved in the Zionist movement during World War I, especially after experiencing anti-Semitism in Boston. Brandeis claimed that a person could be a patriotic American while also being a Zionist and said:
"Let no American imagine that Zionism is inconsistent with patriotism. Multiple loyalties are objectionable only if they are inconsistent."
Brandeis used his influence with President Wilson to obtain Wilson’s support for the Balfour Declaration and the Zionist cause. Louis Brandeis died in Washington, DC on October 5, 1941. Among the institutions named in his memory are Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts and Kibbutz Ein Hashofet in Israel.
Jewish Community of the United States – At the time of the American Declaration of Independence in 1776, between 1,500 and 2,500 Jews were living in the United States, most of them Sephardi. In the middle of the nineteenth century, a wave of German Jews, largely secular and educated, arrived in the United States. Another wave of immigration arrived from Eastern Europe, a result of pogroms and the difficult economic situation in these countries . Most of these new immigrants were Ashkenazi and spoke mainly Yiddish. They arrived, believing that the United States was a “goldene medina,” a country of gold, but the reality was hard. Many of the newcomers worked as manual labourers in difficult conditions, such as in the sweatshops in New York’s Lower East Side. By the beginning of the twentieth century, more than a million Jews lived in the United States, most of them in New York City. Despite immigration quotas, by 1940 the American Jewish population numbered more the 4.5 million. While the first generation of immigrants lived in close-knit Yiddish-speaking communities, the next generation integrated quickly and, in many cases, assimilated into American society and became prominent in many areas of American life. Today American Jews are extremely influential in American politics, business, academia, and culture. Over the last few decades Jews from many countries, such as Russia, Iran, and Israel, have arrived in the United States. The American Jewish community is the second largest Jewish community in the world, numbering between 5.5 and 7 million people. More than 2 million Jews live in New York, making it the city with the largest Jewish population in the world. Half of American Jews consider themselves religious, and there are many Jewish organisations and institutions in the country.