Amusing anecdotes on Justice Brandeis and his early responses to anti-Semitism

Louis Brandeis graduated from the Harvard Law School at age 20 with the highest grade point average in that school’s history and, after other academic triumphs, was appointed Supreme Court justice. When Brandeis was studying law at Harvard, an anti-semitic professor by the name of Peters always displayed animosity towards him. One day Prof. Peters was having lunch at the University dining room when Brandeis came along with his tray and sat next to him. The professor said,”Mr. Brandeis you do not understand. A pig and a bird do not sit together to eat.” Brandeis looked at him and calmly replied, “Don’t worry, professor. I’ll fly away,” and he went and sat at another table.

Peters, decided to take revenge on the next test paper, but Brandeis responded brilliantly to all questions. Unhappy and frustrated, Peters asked him the following question: “Mr Brandeis, if you were walking down the street and found a package, a bag of wisdom and another bag with a lot of money, which one would you take?” Without hesitating, Brandeis responded, “The one with the money, of course.” Peters, smiling sarcastically, said, “Just like a Jew. Unlike you I would have taken the wisdom.” Brandeis shrugged indifferently and responded, “Each one takes what he doesn’t have.”

Prof. Peters hate for the Jewish student came to a finale when he scribbled on his student’s final exam the word “idiot” and handed it back to him. A few minutes later, Louis Brandeis got up, went to the professor and said to him in a dignified but sarcastically polite tone, “Prof. Peters, you autographed the exam sheet, but you did not give me a grade…”