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Bardin, Shlomo


BARDIN, SHLOMO (1898–1976), educator. Bardin was born Shlomo Bardinstein in Zhitomir, Ukraine, and emigrated to Palestine in 1918. After working as an administrative assistant at the Hebrew Secondary School in Haifa, he left to study at the University of Berlin in 1923 and University College in London in 1925. Returning to Haifa in 1926, Bardin taught at the Hebrew Boarding School before setting off for New York City and earning his M.A. at Columbia University's Teachers College in 1930 and his Ph.D. in 1932. In 1933, he returned to Haifa to establish the Haifa Technical Institute, to which he added the Haifa Nautical School in 1938. In 1939, he went back to the United States, where he remained when World War ii broke out. He was naturalized as an American citizen in 1943. He was appointed concurrent director of the Youth Department of Hadassah and the newly established American Zionist Youth Commission (1939), under whose auspices he founded a summer leadership-training program for young adults in 1941. Located in Amherst, New Hampshire, the summer institute was an innovative leadership program styled on the kibbutz model; in addition to daily classes and study sessions, he instituted gardening and physical labor. Shabbat was the centerpiece of the week, celebrated in song, drama, pageantry, and egalitarian services. In 1943, Bardin moved the program to the Poconos, naming it the Brandeis Camp Institute in honor of the recently deceased Supreme Court justice, whose philosophy of American patriotism combined with the commitment to Judaism and Zionism Bardin espoused. Bardin recast his own definition of Zionism from physical relocation to a Jewish homeland to a return to "the spiritual center of one's mind." Bardin expanded his summer operations to comprise a western camp in the Simi Valley near Los Angeles (1947) and a southern camp in North Carolina (1949). He soon took the camps out of the Zionist fold and established a separate camp organization that attracted young people from the entire spectrum of Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Judaism and gave them, as Bardin promised, "an experience that will last a lifetime." In 1951, he moved to Los Angeles and began transforming the west coast camp into an experiential educational center that comprised a summer camp program for youth and weekend institutes for young adults, couples, and families during the rest of the year. Enriched by the contribution of Hollywood writers and producers, the programming at the Brandeis Camp Institute in southern California became a model for Jewish educators everywhere. In 1974, Boston Hebrew College honored him with its Philip W. Lown distinguished service award. Bardin wrote two books, Pioneer Youth in Palestine (1932) and Jews and the Sea (1943). In 1977, the name of the institute in southern California was officially changed to the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, honoring its founder. It is now the largest Jewish institutional landholding outside of the State of Israel and features year round educational activities for Jews of all ages and all levels of learning and observance.


[Bezalel Gordon (2nd ed.)]

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