BRANDEIS-BARDIN INSTITUTE was founded in 1941 by
(1898–1976) with the initial support of Justice Louis Brandeis, and settled on its 3,200-acre campus in Simi Valley of Southern California in 1947. It was not associated with any organization or movement, religious or secular, but rather was devoted to practicing traditional Judaism as related to the needs of modern living.
The programs stressed instruction in Judaism for American Jews and non-Jews alike. There were three principal programs: Brandeis Camp Institute, a leadership training program for college youth; Alonim, a summer camp for children; and weekend sessions for adults through the House of the Book Association. The latter was centered on the observance of the Sabbath and a scholar-in-residence. Upon the death of Bardin, Dennis Prager became the director of the Institute, and in 1977 the Brandeis Institute was renamed the Brandeis-Bardin Institute.
The institute's mission is primarily "to touch and teach Jews, to inspire them through their intellect and emotion, to enhance their connectedness to the Jewish people through the arts as well as academics, and to make a contribution to the advancement of Jewish culture as a means of Jewish identity." As an educational outreach resource, in addition to its Sabbath retreats for all, the institute developed a special weekend program for newly married couples to learn more about incorporating Judaism into their lives while meeting other newlyweds and making new friends. Another innovation is the T'hila Jewish Summer Arts Institute. In this program, youth aged 14–18 study with accomplished Jewish artists as well as teachers of drama, dance, music, creative writing, and visual arts. In 1992 the institute created an Elderhostel program, offering seniors week-long educational activities and classes on Jewish themes. The Brandeis-Bardin Institute also provided the setting for media productions, from movies and TV shows to videos and student films.