Princeton University’s Institute for Advanced Study has long been a center of intellectual Yiddishkeit. In 1930, American Jewish educator Abraham Flexner convinced department store magnate Louis Bamberger to donate five million dollars to build the Institute, and it soon acquired the mission of saving Europe’s Jewish thinkers from the Nazi menace.
Flexner invited Albert Einstein to the Institute, and many other greats, including mathematician John von Neumann, art historian Erwin Panofsky, and non-Jewish scholars opposing Hitler arrived, as recounted in Steve Batterson’s “Pursuit of Genius: Flexner, Einstein, and the Early Faculty at the Institute for Advanced Study” from AK Peters (2006), and Ed Regis’s “Who Got Einstein’s Office? Eccentricity and Genius at the Institute for Advanced Study,” from Basic Books (1988).
With time, this vocation as shelter from political persecution waned.