Published Reviews of Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court

“Absorbing… this book is well written, based on a wide-reading of mainly secondary sources, and will appeal to readers interested in American Jewish history, the history of the Supreme Court, particularly its demographic transformation, and American ethnic history. Perhaps it will encourage other scholars to investigate the Jewish penetration of other bastions of the American elite, such as the great New York City banks and law firms, Ivy League universities, and the highest rungs of leading corporations.”

—EDWARD S. SHAPIRO, Professor Emeritus, Seton Hall University


“I thought I knew a lot about the Supreme Court’s eight Jewish justices, since I have known six of them personally. But I learned so much more from David Dalin’s brilliant and readable account of their very different lives and connections to their Jewish heritage. A must read for anyone interested in Jewish, American or legal history.”

ALAN DERSHOWITZ,  Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, Harvard Law School and author of Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law


“… an exceptionally absorbing and informative portrait gallery of Justice Brandeis and his seven successors [on the Supreme Court] … Dalin has a special flair for revealing the peculiarities of each path that the eight Jewish Justices took to the top. He is ingenious in drawing biographical comparisons and in making historical generalizations about the composition of the Court … Dalin’s accounts of the major cases and decisions for which the eight were responsible are lucid and succinct. A rabbi as well as historian, he offers the greatest illumination on the Jewishness of these Justices.”

—STEPHEN J. WHITFIELD, Jewish Book Council


“Sparkling historical nuggets abound in David Dalin’s wonderful … review of the history of Jewish Supreme Court Justices … extraordinarily interesting and informative.”
—NATHAN LEWIN, Washington Jewish Week


“Its accessible style, abundance of illuminating anecdotes and helpful synthesis of an extensive scholarly literature will make it valuable to historians of the American Jewish Experience.”

—SAMUEL GOLDMAN, Jewish Review of Books


“Dalin’s incomparable work, Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court, is meticulously researched, immensely learned, and – best of all – a delightful read. For a book to be both scholarly and entertaining is really quite a difficult feat, but Dalin has that rare ability … The place where Dalin’s work shines most brilliantly is in its handling of such historic, landmark cases as Schenck v. United States, Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, Brown v. Board of Education, Miranda v. Arizona and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission – in all of which the various Jewish Justices played leading roles. Dalin’s knowledge is encyclopedic, his love of the subject(s) obvious.”

—KURT F. STONE, Florida Jewish Journal


“For readers unfamiliar with the Jewish justices, Dalin’s book constitutes a fine primer. Dalin is a fluid writer and includes charming personal details of his subjects’ lives, which make for enjoyable reading. Those interested in learning about the justices’ religious practices will appreciate this work, as will readers curious about justices’ social networks … The discussions of the relationships between the Jewish justices and the presidents who appointed them are also interesting.”



“Historian and Rabbi David G. Dalin’s collective biography, Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court, from Brandeis to Kagan: Their Lives and Legacies, is the first book to examine all eight Jewish jurists, and it does so in a remarkably lively narrative of fewer than three hundred pages of text … Dalin explores each justices “Jewishness”: a multifaceted lens through which the author touches upon Judaic ancestry, religious education, ritual observance … synagogue membership and attendance, communal leadership, anti-Semitic experiences and support of Zionism. Dalin marshals a wealth of biographical detail that enables the reader to appreciate the experiences that shaped, and the practices that reveal, the Jewish identity each justice brings to the Supreme Court … Dalin vividly relates episodes that demonstrate the justices’ menschlichkeit in opening doors to the legal profession for Jews and other minorities  … In addition to its natural appeal for Jewish lawyers and law students, Jewish Justices is an important, engaging and concise resource for any reader interested in Jewish, American or legal history.”

—MARLENE TRESTMAN, American Jewish Archives Journal


“David G. Dalin’s book Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court, is extensively researched, documented and handsomely illustrated as well with some thirty-eight photographs … Of particular interest is Dalin’s first or introductory chapter, entitled “Before Brandeis: Presidents, Presidential Appointments and America’s Jews, 1813-1912.” Here the reader learns that but for the quirks of partisan politics, Judah P. Benjamin, not Louis D. Brandeis, would today be remembered as the first Jewish Justice … It is in the same chapter that one learns that the first Jew appointed to the federal courts was Julian William Mack … named by President William Howard Taft in 1910 and confirmed in 1911.”



“An unprecedented assessment of all eight of the Jewish legal superstars.”



“Individual assessments of justices are united by a common appreciation among Jews of the connection between Judaism and the rule of law, both as an extension of religious law and as a bulwark against political persecution and oppression. Thumbnail biographies of each justice chart their personal journeys to the Court, their nomination fights, and contributions to constitutional history and interpretation … Highly recommended.”



“A fascinating and overdue survey of the eight Jews who have figured among the 113 occupants of the highest judicial office. Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court … is copiously end-noted and dispassionately recounted. Yet it remains so readable that it is digestible in a weekend.”

—MICHAEL I. KRAUSS, Public Discourse


“David G. Dalin has given us a fine one-volume summary of the eight Jewish-Americans who have served on the Supreme Court of the United States … He draws upon biographies about several of these justices, their essential non-judicial writings, and much of their judicial work. Collectively, their stories trace the arc of the modern American Jewish experience, especially with respect to politics and the law. Dalin looks across the individual biographies of each of these justices to discuss their connections, including the professional friendship between Brandeis and Cardozo, and the mentorship turned almost paternal relationship between Brandeis and Frankfurter … Moreover, he discusses each justice’s unique Jewish identity.”

—FREDERICK M. LAWRENCE, former President of Brandeis University, Contemporary Jewry


“In this wonderfully informative book, historian and Rabbi David G. Dalin tells us the fascinating stories of the eight Jewish justices who have served on the Supreme Court … We learn not only about the justices’ professional histories, but also their personal lives and how each understood (or understands) their Jewish faith. Dalin discusses many of the court opinions issued by these justices, revealing along the way the variety of interactions they have had with other members of the court … What I found particularly moving is Dalin’s telling of the friendship between Ginsberg and Justice Scalia. Although often on opposite sides of contested questions, they remained dear friends until Scalia’s death in 2016. Dalin has not only given us an impressive piece of scholarship, it is eminently readable.”

—FRANCIS BECKWITH, Journal of Church and State


“The author, David G. Dalin, painstakingly researched the material for this book, which includes 1,410 footnotes to be found following the 284 page text … This book encapsulates the Jewish of eight Supreme Court Justices in a thorough and compelling manner … What distinguishes it and makes it a really interesting read is the focus on the Jewish heritage  of these eight of the 114 Justices who have served on this highest court, since it was established in 1789. The reader learns about their Jewish family roots, religious or secular leanings, instances of anti-Semitism in the legal profession and even in the Supreme Court, their Zionist activism, and, overall, the Jewish legacy of these gifted individuals. Besides recording many historical Jewish “firsts” in the American judicial and political arenas, the book exposes the delicate and intriguing U.S. Supreme Court Presidential appointment process and the Senate confirmation battles, given the judges’ Jewish backgrounds. The evolution of a Jewish seat and its questionable existence today is addressed, as is its great symbolic importance for American Jewry …The author ends the book by noting that the once traditional Jewish seat no longer exists. Yet, three Jews are now serving simultaneously, and “it would seem unimaginable to many … that there could be a Supreme Court without a Jewish justice.”

—HONORABLE MARTIN E. RITHOLZ, Retired Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York
JUSTICE, Magazine of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists


Testimonials for Dr. David Dalin, Guest Speaker or Scholar-in-Residence

“Our Jewish Federation invited David Dalin to be the speaker at an annual Community Breakfast. His topic was “The Presidents of the United States and the Jews: from Abraham Lincoln to Barack Obama. His talk was about a month after the 2016 Presidential election and we had a sold-out crowdDavid is an excellent speaker with a wealth of knowledge – he was engaging and informative while combining humor with the serious. He shared many wonderful and mostly unknown stories about various presidents and their relationships to their respective Jewish communities. He thoughtfully and objectively answered many questions about the most recent election and its impact on the Jewish community. We heard only positive feedback from attendees about David’s talk. Many expressed the hope that our community would invite him back again. And we hope to do that. David was easy to work with and we highly recommend him as a speaker.”

—LENI SACK, Program Director
Jewish Federation of Lee & Charlotte Counties


“We were thrilled to have Dr. David Dalin visit our community and share his insights on Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court. We learned so many interesting, little-known facts about their Jewish identities and their tenures on the Supreme Court. Dr. Dalin was able to paint a very personal, well-rounded picture of each justice. What’s more, we had such great feedback from our audience. He is a terrific speaker!”

—STACY KAMISAR, Program Director
Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County


“It is an honor to add my voice to the chorus of praise for Rabbi Dr. David G. Dalin. Dr. Dalin has been a Scholar-in-Residence at Temple Israel of Norfolk, Virginia, on several occasions over the past two decades. He is a gifted scholar and speaker. He has the knack of making serious history accessible to a congregational audience, an adult education group, or a book club. In short, he is the perfect choice for that valuable group we all seek to reach, the “educated general audience”. He has invariably selected topics of interest to our synagogue audience. Whether speaking about the Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court, the relationship between American Presidents and America’s Jews, Baseball’s greatest Jewish superstars, Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax, or even Jewish Gangsters, he finds ways to make American Jewish history come to life. An engaging and erudite speaker, Dr. Dalin is always a welcome Scholar-in-Residence.”

Temple Israel of Norfolk Virginia
Adjunct Professor of History and Religious Studies, Virginia Wesleyan College


“It has been our great pleasure to have historian, author and Rabbi, Dr. David Dalin, as a featured speaker in our Adult University Lecture Series here at the Levis JCC in Boca Raton. For three consecutive years, he has presented and prepared lectures given in an engaging and thoughtful way.  Topics such as The Presidents of the United States and the Jews, The Life and Legacy of Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis and The Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court, from Brandeis to Kagan, have fascinated our audiences.  David Dalin is a dynamic speaker!  I certainly hope that he will continue to lecture here at our JCC, for many years to come.”

—STEPHANIE OWITZ,  Assistant Director
Phyllis and Harvey Sandler Center
Adolph and Rose Levis Jewish Community Center
Boca Raton, Florida


“We have had Dr. David Dalin speak several times at Temple Beth El. What is most apparent about David is his utter love for what he does. His enthusiasm and joy in teaching history comes alive in his presence and he is one of the most passionate lecturers I have ever seen. Paired with that is an immense historical knowledge full of fascinating information and groundbreaking insights. It is a joy and pleasure to learn from Dr. Dalin. He transcends the academic world and brings material that all ages and audiences can enjoy and learn from.”

Temple Beth El
Boca Raton, Florida


“Dr. David Dalin is a brilliant scholar and a wonderful speaker. I have participated with him in several joint speaking engagements and panel discussions and have watched him entrance an audience with his ability to recount stories and make history come alive. I have also interviewed him at various times on my radio program and have received a wonderful response from radio listeners on each occasion. David’s reputation as a riveting speaker and engaging conversationalist is well-known, and there is good reason why he is asked to be a scholar-in-residence throughout the country, and to speak before a myriad of groups and organizations.  Having David Dalin speak guarantsure-firee fire success!”

Radio Talk Show Host  KGO 810 AM
San Francisco


“Dr. David Dalin has spoken at our congregation as a scholar-in-residence on several occasions over the years. Among other topics, he has spoken about “The Presidents of the United States and the Jews,” the fascinating topic of one of his many books,  and has mesmerized our community with his insightfully-thoughtful discussion and analysis of “Jews and American Politics, Retrospect and Prospect,” a wonderful and always-relevant topic to have him speak about in advance or following a presidential election!  Rabbi Dalin has also spoken about the history of “Jews and Baseball,” another area of his expertise, and the sometimes-forgotten history (as well as stories about) Jewish gangsters in America.  He is a wonderfully engaging speaker. I heartily recommend for a visit to your community!

Temple Israel
Wilkes-Barre,  Pennsylvania


“I have had the pleasure of knowing Rabbi Dr. David Dalin for over 30 years and I can personally attest to his expertise as a scholar of the American Jewish experience and as a terrific speaker.  A few years ago, Rabbi Dr. Dalin was the scholar-in-residence at my synagogue and the reaction by those who heard him was overwhelmingly positive.  Rabbi Dr. Dalin is well respected by his colleagues both in the rabbinate and in academia.  He is an internationally-known first rate scholar of American Jewish history and has lectured extensively on that topic in Southwest Florida and throughout the country. Through his books and articles, as well as his lectures, Rabbi Dr. Dalin conveys his passion about American Jewry and its interaction with American society in all of its multi-faceted dimensions.

I strongly recommend Dr. David Dalin to you as a scholar who imparts his knowledge of the subject matter in a delightfully understandable and intelligent manner.

Temple Beth Tikvah
Greenacres, Florida
President, South Palm Beach County Board of Rabbis


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