I’m sure every student has faced the inevitable “Brandeis? Where is that?” after telling someone where you go to school. For a college of our academic reputation, Brandeis doesn’t have a whole lot of name recognition, and I often find myself having to come up with a quick fact or two to introduce my school. You all probably have your own ways of dealing with this (and they all involve the words “predominantly Jewish”), but one method I’ve found particularly effective is, “You know the book Tuesdays with Morrie? Brandeis is where it happened.”
Though I never hear it mentioned on campus, our connection with the best-selling memoir in U.S. history might be our foremost claim to fame in the popular imagination. I read the book in high school, but I didn’t make the Brandeis connection until after I had chosen to go there. Now that I think about it, however, it’s pretty neat to have one of our former professors become the new model for the aging intellectual passing on his wisdom on his deathbed and reflecting on a life filled with simple pleasures. Morrie Schwartz died in 1995; many of our current professors were probably his colleagues and friends. It must have been surprising to see Professor Schwartz find such widespread fame posthumously, and it must be gratifying to them that his principles have touched millions of lives.
Admittedly, Tuesdays with Morrie is a little trite and cliched at times, and though it’s a pleasant read, it’s not exactly looked upon as a cornerstone of literature (like most mega-sellers aren’t). It’s definitely not the kind of book that usually draws my attention. I think I’m going to read it again though, and while I’m mainly interested in Mitch Albom’s Brandeis experience, I can’t help but think that we could all use a little wisdom from a fellow Brandeisian.