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The Brandeis-Bardin Campus of American Jewish University is a Jewish retreat located since 1947 in the northeastern Simi Hills, in the city of Simi Valley, California. Formerly known as the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, it is used for nondenominational summer programs for children, teens, and young adults.
The Brandeis-Bardin Institute was founded in 1941 by Shlomo Bardin, inspired by the ideals of the early Zionist movement and the ideas and financial support of Justice Louis Brandeis. In the 1950s, BBI was known as Brandeis Camp Institute (BCI), with Shlomo Bardin as the Director. The institute branched out into a program for college-aged Jews, now called Brandeis Collegiate Institute, and a summer and winter camp for young people named Alonim.
In 1968 actor James Arness (of Gunsmoke) donated his entire campus adjacent Simi Hills ranch to the Brandeis Bardin Institute, making it the largest parcel of land owned by a Jewish institution outside the State of Israel.
In March 2007, officials from both the Brandeis-Bardin Institute and the University of Judaism, a non-denominational institution of higher education offering undergraduate and graduate degrees along with a rabbinical studies program located in Bel Air, announced they would merge into a new organization called American Jewish University.
Many notable people got their start at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, including: Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, the founder of Renewal Judaism; Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach; and serving as the springboard for the American Israeli Folk Dance movement started by Dani Dassa and continued by his son David Dassa.
Rabbi Zvi Dershowitz directed the Brandeis-Bardin Institute in the early 1960s, before becoming director of Camp Ramah in California and rabbi at Sinai Temple. In the 1970s Rabbis Abraham Joshua Heschel and Mordecai Kaplan frequented the institute. Later Rabbi Joseph Telushkin would lead a weekly Torah discussion at the House of the Book on the campus, and Dennis Prager would be among the many leaders of the Institute.
Journalist, Daniel Pearl, who was beheaded by Al Queda in Pakistan in 2002 (and about whom the Angelina Jolie film A Mighty Heart was made), and his family were long-time supporters of (and campers at) Brandeis.
The futuristic architecture of the campus's House of the Book, which was designed by architect Sidney Eisenshtat, has appeared as a location in several film and television projects:
- Camp Khitomer in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
- Lore's Borg compound in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Descent"
- The Command Center, later known as the Power Chamber, for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Power Rangers: Zeo and Power Rangers Turbo.
- The Lawnmower Man
- Marilyn Manson's video for "The Dope Show"
- Chris Brown's video for "Wall to Wall"
- Kelly Price's video for "As We Lay"
- The Rock & Roll History Museum in Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny
- The rear of the building (and surrounding vegetation) was featured in a recent[when?] Lexus commercial.
- Exterior and outside (around the grounds) of the House of Book and the institute were used for Mystery Woman: Vision of a Murder.
- The prison Camp Holliday in the movie Wedlock with Rutger Hauer.
- In the mid-'80s revival of The Twilight Zone, the episode "Dead Run", a scene between the Administrator of Hell and a new truck driver takes place here.
- The Wrenwood Center in Todd Haynes' Safe (1995) uses the House of the Book's interior and the camp's buildings and wilderness.
- The Atmospheric Research Institute exteriors in The Storm (2009) mini-series.
- The museum in the 7th episode of the 3rd season of Chuck titled "Chuck Versus the Mask"
- The compound of the "Visualize" cult in the CBS show The Mentalist, a season 2 episode titled "Red All Over" and a season 4 episode titled "His Thoughts Were Red Thoughts"
- Earthonomy Headquarters in the Diagnosis: Murder episode "Dance of Danger"
- Several buildings, interior and exterior, of the cult on HBO's series "Big Love"
- In episode six of V.I.P. (TV series), Diamonds are a Val's Best Friend, in an exterior scene with Tasha, played by Molly Culver, taking photos. The name of the building was Protocon International.
- Official website
- Brandeis Collegiate Institute
- Conference Center at Brandeis-Bardin
- Camp Alonim at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute