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American jurist and Zionist leader. Born in Louisville, Ky., he received his early education at a private school in Louisville and an academy in Germany. He had little formal Jewish training in his childhood.

In 1877, Brandeis, at the age of 20, was graduated from the Harvard Law School with its highest honors. He began his private law practice in St. Louis, but soon settled in Boston where he lived and practiced law for about forty years. In law, Brandeis distinguished himself as “the people’s attorney.” He defended the citizens of Boston against the monopolies and unethical practices of public utility companies.

Brandeis’s defense of the common man against the encroachments of “big business” continued throughout his career. His book Other People’s Money had such an effect on President Wilson that in 1916 he appointed Brandeis to the U.S. Supreme Court where he served for 23 years. His judicial opinions exerted a profound influence on American constitutional law. Brandeis often joined Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in minority dissenting opinions. These historic opinions changed American thought on social problems. Brandeis’s belief in the need for legal change to meet the new conditions of industrial society, and for public regulations to protect the public interest, foreshadowed the social legislation of the New Deal in the 1930’s.

In 1910, Brandeis’s interest in Jewish life was awakened by his contact with the Jewish garment workers of New York, when he served as mediator in a strike. His active participation in Zionism dates to the period closely preceding the World War I. As chairman of the Provisional Committee for General Zionist affairs from 1914 to 1918, he strengthened the World Zionist movement which had been disrupted by the war. He was influential in obtaining American approval of the Balfour Declaration. A businesslike Zionist, Brandeis stressed the practical aspects of the rebuilding of the Land of Israel. He helped found the Palestine Economic Corporation, and played an important part in the encouragement of the investment of private capital in Palestine. As a result of a disagreement with Chaim Weizmann on the proper methods to be employed in developing Palestine economically, he resigned from his Zionist offices in 1921. Brandeis remained, nevertheless, a devoted Zionist all his life, and was often consulted on important policy matters.

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