ABOUT THE LOUIS D. BRANDEIS CHAPTER
Metropolitan Washington, D.C. is the Capital of the United States and indeed a major world capital. It is the home of the Embassies of virtually every nation in the world. As the capital, it is the seat of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the government of the United States.
With the Jewish population of 215,000 in the metropolitian area population of over 5 million, it is the 6th largest Jewish Community in the nation. Zionist activity in the Washington area dates back to the early 20th century with the founding of the Washington Zionist Organization. The local chapter of the Zionist Organization of America (c. 1901) formed after a visit to Washington, D.C. by Hadassah founder, Henrietta Szold. From the beginning the leaders of the Washington Chapter of ZOA worked to build local membership. The Washington apartment of Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis served as a salon for national and local Zionist leaders.
In the aftermath of World War II, many of the influential members of Washington’s Jewish Community participated in a secret fundraising campaign to support the Haganah in the War for Independence, including raising money to provide ships and crews to support Aliya Bet (Jewish immigration to the Jewish Homeland) to purchase machinery for a munitions factory and supply World War II surplus weapons to the Haganah.
As David Ben Gurion proclaimed the independance of Israel in Jerusalem on May 14,1948, an exuberant crowd of Washington Jews, including many ZOA members, gathered at the Jewish Agency building on Massachusettes Avenue, N.W. They danced and sang as the new Israeli Flag was raised. Local Jews selected and purchased Ireael’s first embassy, on Embassy Row, shortly after the State of Israel was recognized by the United States and the nations of the world. The presence of the new Israel Embassy in Washington strengthened and reinforced the community’s ties to Zionism. Through the decades since, our local chapter of ZOA has continued to tirelessly use the unique nature of Washington to support and defend Israel.