Brandeis president issues apology following 'anything but Orthodox' ad controversy
'Let me assure you that in no way did Brandeis or the ad agency intend to send any message that Orthodox Jews are anything but welcome and supported here.'
Brandeis initially defended the use of the advertisement, referring to it as 'a play on words meant to highlight Brandeis’ unique story and history of innovation.'
In the wake of an offensive ad seemingly mocking the Orthodox Jewish community, Brandeis University President Ronald Liebowitz issued an apology on the school’s behalf.
The university released a 75th anniversary national ad campaign on June 25 that was displayed in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Atlantic, which stated: “Brandeis Was Founded By Jews. But, It’s Anything But Orthodox.”
On June 30, Liebowitz sent an email to the student-led Brandeis Orthodox Organization, writing: “Let me assure you that in no way did Brandeis or the ad agency intend to send any message that Orthodox Jews are anything but welcome and supported here.”
The president continued: “Brandeis is committed to providing a rich and open experience for you, our Orthodox students, and combating rising antisemitism that affects all Jew.”
He concluded his email by addressing the larger Brandeis Orthodox Jewish community, stating: “You play a key role in our ongoing success: You bring energy, intelligence, and creativity to our Jewish community, to student life more broadly, and to the rigor of the academic experience that Brandeis offers.”
Liebowitz’s apology comes after the university previously defended the ad upon its release, calling it “a play on words meant to highlight Brandeis’ unique story and history of innovation.”
The university was founded in 1948 largely because Ivy League institutions were limiting the admission of Jewish students. Jews also comprise roughly 35 percent of the undergraduate student body.
Brandeis Orthodox Organization President Matt Shapiro told Campus Reform that he was “really happy and grateful to see that the university was willing to recognize the hurt they caused and apologize for it.”
“I hope this will ensure their continued willingness to be conscious of this in the future,” he added.
According to Brandeis’ website, “Jewish life at Brandeis is vibrant and diverse, supporting students interested in prayer, Jewish study, cultural and social events, Israel, and more.”
Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties for comment; this story will be updated accordingly.