I am writing to let you know about an exciting project I am working on. I am a 17-year-old senior at duPont Manual High School and am very active in the Jewish Community. One of the groups I have participated in is Kesher Kentucky. In 2010, Kesher Kentucky toured Jewish Louisville. As we passed by a huge old mansion on East Broadway, our tour guide, Alan Steinberg, mentioned that it was the boyhood home of Louis Brandeis, the nation’s first Jewish Supreme Court Justice, but was not identified by a plaque or sign of any sort. Mr. Steinberg said he thought the site was important enough to be recognized and asked if anyone in our youth group was interested in helping him get a highway marker placed in front of the house. As we got off the bus, I told Mr. Steinberg I would help him out.
With Mr. Steinberg acting as my mentor, I set about researching Louis Brandeis. In an effort to gather information on my subject, I conducted a videotaped interview with Frank Gilbert, grandson of Louis Brandeis, in Washington, D.C. on Oct 1, 2010. Additionally, I viewed a Kentucky Educational Television (KET) Special on Brandeis. In November 2010, I attended a lecture by Brandeis biographer Melvin Urofsky, who spoke about his book, Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, at the Jewish Community Center of Louisville. I attended a Filson Club Lecture by Urofsky in April 2011 as well.
Through my research, I discovered that Mr. Brandeis, a Louisville native, is widely regarded as one of the U.S. Supreme Court’s finest justices. He is considered by many to be a pioneer in law related to freedom of speech and the right to privacy. Additionally, Brandeis was the nation’s first Jewish Supreme Court Justice and a leader in the Zionist movement to establish a homeland for Jews.
Using the information I learned, I contacted the Kentucky Historical Society to see about putting up a plaque. They said that if I write the text for the plaque, and it is accepted by the Marker Committee, I could work with them to have the plaque placed. First, though, I have to come up with $2,300 to pay for the plaque.
With Mr. Stenberg’s help, I prepared the text for a KY Historic Highway Marker and it was accepted by the Marker Committee. My next step is to raise the money to pay for the plaque. I have already earned some money by manning a table at a Louisville Historical League event. I have also made contact with the Louisville Bar Association and with the Brandeis School of Law in hopes that they will assist in my fundraising efforts. I have even donated $100 I earned through a Preservation Kentucky state-wide essay contest to the plaque effort.
Once the plaque is fabricated, I will work with my mentor and with the KY Historical Highway Marker program to arrange for a plaque unveiling. The event will be publicized through press releases to local and state media outlets.
Upon completion, I will have brought recognition to an important local historical site that identifies the importance of Louis D. Brandeis, as embodied in his boyhood home in Louisville. Ultimately, the site will be regarded as notable for its historic association with Louis Brandeis.
Thought this process, I have certainly learned how historical figures have shaped the world we live in today.
I hope you will help me in my fundraising effort by making a donation to the Plaque Fund. No donation is too big or too small!
To make a donation, please send your donation to me at: Andrew Segal, 4302 Talahi Way, Louisville, KY 40207. Please put “Brandeis Plaque” on the subject line of your check.
Editor’s note: Andrew Segal is a senior at DuPont Manual High School, where he is a member of the National Honor Society and the wrestling team. He serves on the board for the Louisville B’nai Brith Youth Organization’s Drew Corson AZA, and participates in Kesher Kentucky.