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! .n - Inululmjll | PAGE 20A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 9, 2009 By Salvatore Caputo Jewish News of Greater Phoenix Working out of Forward Operating Base Shank in Afghanistan, justsouth of the capital Kabul, a soldier from Tucson, Ariz.. with allies from the Jordanian military, seeks to break cultural barriers and win the hearts and minds of Afghan people to help build a nation resistantto the Taliban insurgency. "The Jordanians just re- cently joined us," U.S. Army Capt. Isaac Greenberg tells Jewish News. "TheiY main responsibility is to engage the local nationals and show a Muslim face, that the Americans are changing, that President Obama has asked the Jordanians to come to Afghanistan to help out a fel- low Muslim brother in order to build a better relationship to get rid of the Taliban." For instance, during the Muslim holy month of Rama- dan, the Jordanians hosted an iftar, break-fast dinner, for Afghan provincial leaders and American guests, including Greenberg. "I find it an awesome expe- rience because these people actually are able to engage the (Afghan) people, unlike we (Americans) are, because of their similarities," he says. "And because of that, we are using them in our'combined patrols to gain intelligence and build a better relationship with the local populace." The piece of real estate Greenberg patrols, near the strategic Khyber Pass into Pakistan, is nearly 8,000 miles away from his home. Born and raised in Tucson. he was an all-star in football and wrestling at Sahuaro High School, graduating in 2001. He was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy atWest Point by S en. John McCain and Rep. Jim Kolbe. Greenberg graduated from West Point in 2005 and, like all graduating cadets, was commissioned as a second lieutenant (two ranks below captain). Having grown up at Tuc- son's Congregation Anshei Israel, Greenberg, 26, serves as a lay leader for services held each Shabbatat"FOB Shank." (He pronounces the two words as they're spelled.) Serving as lay leader "gives me the great honor to observe our religion so far from home," he wrote in an e-mail this summer. Attendance at services is low--typically Greenberg and another Jewish soldier, and some non-Jewish friends. "They'll join us because they enjoy hanging out with us just checking out adifferent culture." Over the past five years, whenever he's been able to go home, he's spoken about the subject to students at Tucson Hebrew Academy, and he maintains an extensive e-mail list in which he discusses his deployment and other issues. In a note he sent to Hillel at the University of Arizona over the summer, he asked to speak to the Jewish students there about possibly serving in the military. "I won't be preaching that they should join," he wrote, "but I think it's a great topic that is necessary to discuss. Jews are represented in virtu-~ ally every profession--from law to medicine to science but they are few and far between in the armed forces serving our country. My ques- tion is. 'Why?'" Asked why he believes this is so, he says. "I think they hea~: stories that it's a dangerous place over in Afghanistan or Iraq, that it's not a typical job that Jewish personnel are inspired by their parents (to consider) when they're in high school .... They're more told to talk about going to law school or to medical school or entering a more prestigious (profession) that doesn't sound like the military, where they give you an M4 and you go off to foreign lands to serve your country." Greenberg is serving his country in the 710th Bri- gade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, !0th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) as head intelligence officer for more than 500 soldiers. As he nears the end of his second deployment in Afghanistan, Greenberg says he has come to believe that individual interactions will be the key to strengthening civil society in Afghanistan. "We have a huge responsi- bility to serve the people and interact with them to build a better relationship with them," he says. "I majored in international relations. and I'm actually living what I studied, just engaging with people." As an intelligence officer, his focus is terrorism and counterinsurgency. "I actually get to see what it's like, to see people being intimidated by the Taliban and trying to counter those tactics with daily operations, by talking to people, by giv- ing them projects, such as building a mosque ... and just trying to become friends with these local nationals to build a better environment and security for them." He is committed to at least four more years in the service. His current 12-month de- ployment ends in December, and soon afterward he'll head to the Military Intelligence Captain's Career Course "at Fort Huachuca. Ariz. Although he can tell plenty of stories about near-misses with enemy IEDs (improvised explosive devices), Green- bergsays, "I most likely see myself coming back at least one more time to either Iraq or Afghanistan. Only time will tell." Salvatore Caputo is senior staff writer at Jewish News of Greater Phoenix. Lerlcan By Adam Kirsch Tablet NEW YORK At 900 pag- es. "Louis D. Brandeis: A Life." by Melvin Urofsky, may be more than twice the size of an ordinary biography, but because Brandeis had four major careers, even this door- stopper of a book can claim to be economical. Brandeis' chief claim to fame. of course, is his long tenure as a U.S. Supreme Court justice. From 1916 to 1939, the first Jew on the Supreme Court was one of its most influential members, even when his progressive views and Commitment to what hecalled "a living law" placed in him in the minority. According to Urofsky, "no justice of the twentieth century had a greater impact on American constitutional jurisprudence," and much of this biography's bulk is owed to its detailed treatment of Brandeis' legal thought. Long before he was ap- pointed to the court, how- ever, Brandeis was nationally known for his work on behalf of the Progressive move-" ment, waging battles against railroad monopolies, exploi- tive insurance companies and political corruption. It was his fame as a reformer that led Woodrow Wilson to pick Brandeis for the court even though he had never been a judge--something that would be unimaginable in our more cautious and credentialized age. (Before naming him to the court, Wilson contemplated making Brandeis attorney general or even secretary of commerce.) Before he became a re- former. Brandeis was a lead- ing lawyer and legal thinker whose firm. Warren and Brandeis. was among the most important in Boston. Even if Brandeis had never done anything after co- writing "The Right to Pri- vacy," a pioneering article in the Harvard Law Review, in Library of Congress Louis Brandeis 1890, he would have a place in legal history. All three of these careers-- lawyer, reformer, judge fit together naturally enough: It is Brandeis' fourth career, as the founding father of Ameri- can Zionism, that poses the biggest biographical enigma. While the fact that Brandeis was Jewish was well known, before 1912 he displayed virtually no inter- est in Jewish issues. He "had a number of Jewish clientsand did some legal and advisory work for the Boston Jewish community," Urofsky writes, but "he had avoided taking on major responsibilities. His contributions to various Jewish charities had been nominal, well below what a person of his means could have given." Nor was he a practicing or believing Jew: "At home, [the Brandeis family] celebrated Christmas as a secular holi- day for the children, complete with tree and toys." This arm's-length ap- proach to Judaism was the natural result of Brandeis' upbringing. He was born in Louisville, Ky., in 1856, the youngest child of German- speaking Jews from Prague who had come to America, like many German liberals, following the" failed revolu- tion of 1848. Unlike most of the Eastern European Jews who immigrated at the end of the century, the Brandeis clan already was assimilated and prosperous when they ar- rived in the United States. His father and mother. Adolph and Frederika. crossed the Atlantic with a group of 26 family members, toting "twenty-seven great chests ... and two grand pianos." Clearly they did not belong to t~he huddled masses yearn- ing to breathe free. Louis grew up speaking German at home, and his father's business flourished thanks to his connections among the (non-Jewish) German communities of the Midwest. The Jewish part Of the family's heritage was more or less ignored--or as Louis put it later in life, his parents "were not so narrow as to allow their religious beliefs to overshadow their interest in the broader as- pects of humanity." Urofsky tells a suggestive story from Louis' childhood about the time when his sisters Fannie and Amy de- cided to attend Yore Kippur services for the sake of the music, which they had never heard. Louis and his brother Alfred drove to the synagogue in a carriage to fetch them, only to be berated by the con- gregants they didn't know that Jews weren't supposed to ride on the holiday. The real spiritual values of Brandeis' childhood were an intense American patriotism and a commitment to com- munity service, both of which bore fruit in his reform work. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1878, at the age of just 21---this was in the era when it was not necessary to get an un- dergraduate degree before studying law Brandeis formed his partnership with Sam Warren and very soon he was making a lot of money. (By 1890. Urofsky writes, he was earning more than $50,000 a year, making him perhaps the top-paid lawyer in Boston; the average lawyer made less than $5,000.) But he and his wife. Alice Goldmark, a second cousin whom he married in 1891, believed in living modestly, so they could devote themselves to public service. "Some men buy diamonds and rare works of art: others delight in automobiles and yachts." Brandeis once told a reporter. "My luxury is to in- vest my surplus effort, beyond that required for the proper support of my family, to the pleasure of taking up a prob- lem and solving, or helping to solve it, for the people without receiving any compensation." This noble creed led Brandeis, starting in his 40s, to devote more and more of his time to pro bono work. (In fact, Urofsky credits Brandeis with helping to make such unpaid public work a stan- dard lawyerly obligation.) The first third of Urofsky's book is devoted to this phase of Brandeis' career, in which he served as "an attorney for the people"--arguing in the Supreme Court on behalf of minimum-wage and maximum-hour laws, fighting the New Haven Rail- road's attempt to monopolize Massachusetts rail lines, and helping establish a system of Savings Bank Life Insurance that allowed workers to buy cheap policies. "The great opportunity of the American Bar," Brandeis told a Harvardaudience in his 1905 speech "The Opportu- nity fn the Law," "is and will be tostand again as it did in the past, ready to protect... the interests of the people." Brandeis' surprising turn to Zionism can be seen as another manifestation of the same familial noblesse oblige. The only practicing Jew Brandeis had known growing up was his mater- nal uncle. Lewis Dembitz, a successful lawyer who was involved in the founding of the Jewish Theological Seminary. Brandeis idolized his un- cle. whom he once compared to the ancient Athenians for his "longing to discover truths," and he changed his own middle name from David to Dembitz in Lewis' honor. So Brandeis was intrigued when in 1910. the editor of a Boston Jewish newspaper interviewing him on the subject of life insurance asked him if he was related to Lewis Dembitz. Dembitz. the editor said. was "a noble Jew," for he "had been one of the first Americans to support Theodor Herzl.'" This Daniel Deronda-like episode was Brandeis' intro- duction to Zionism, and in 1912 he joined the small Fed- eration of American Zionists. But itwas in 1914. as Urofsky shows, that Brandeis vaulted to the head of the movement. With the outbreak of World War I, the European Zionists found themselves divided and paralyzed, even as the danger to Eastern European Jews and the Jewish settlements in Palestine increased. An emergency meeting of Ameri- can Zionists was called at the Hotel Marseilles in New York, where Brandeis accepted the leadership of the new Provi- sional Executive Committee for General zionist Affair. the forerunner of what became. in 1918, the Zionist Orgamza- tion of America. From 1914 to 1921, Brandeis was the head of the American Zionist move- ment. Uro(sky carefully balances his achievements in that role with the limita- tions that eventually led him to be unseated by a rival faction allied with Chhim Weizmann. Brandeis was a great believer in facts and organization, and his slogan as head of the Provisional Executive Committee was "Men! Money! Discipline!" He was a hugely success- ful fund-raiser, channeling American Jewish wealth to the poor Jewish communities of Europe. Between 1912 and 1919, the membership of the com- mittee increased from 12,000 to 176,000. Yet as a techno- crat with a cold, reserved temperament, he proved unable to harness the enthu- siasm of Eastern European Jewish immigrants, and he never shared the cultural and religious zeal that inspired most Zionists. His major achievement. Urofsky convincingly argues,. was to make Zionism accept- able to newly Americanized Jews by showing that Zionism and American patriotism did not conflict. On the contrary, he always insisted that "the highest Jewish ideals are essentially American," that "to be good Americans, we must be better Jews, and to be better Jews, we must become Zionists." One reason Brandeis was so enthusiastic about Pal- estine, especially after he visited in 1919, was that he saw in it a blank slate for Jews to create the kind of demo- cratic, egalitarian society he was working for in America. It followed that American Jews did not have to make aliyah to be genuine Zionists. Rather, Brandeis laid out the terms of the compact that still governs American Jews' relations with Israel: They would offer money and moral support, but not sacrifice their Americanness. When Brandeis was nomi- nated to the Supreme Court, he took it as vindication. "In the opinion of the President." he wrote, "there is no conflict between Zion- ism and loyalty to America." This is what almost all American Jews still believe, despite increasingly vocal criticism of Israel and "the Israel lobby." For this, as for so much else, Urofsky reminds us, we have Louis Brandeis to thank. Adam Kirsch is a con- tributing editor to Tablet Magazine and the author of "Benjamin Disraeli," a biography l~ the Nextbook Press Jewish Encounters book series. Reprinted from Tabletmag.com, a new read on Jewish life.