Newton woman, a member of Brandeis’ first graduating class, reflects on past – Wicked Local

Posted By on June 16, 2021

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Vicky Taylor

As graduation speakers go, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt isnt too shabby.

She gave a magnificent speech, recalled Newton resident Marilyn Bentov (nee Weintraub), a member of Brandeis Universitys first graduating class.

The 90-year-old recently celebrated her 69th reunion online, which she said will be the Class of 1952s last. Bentov, who has lived in Newton more than 23 years, estimated about 50 alumni are still alive out of the 110-120 original graduates. However, she said because of health reasons, some were unable to participate.

When she decided to pursue higher education, Bentov had to take buses and trains from her Dorchester home to Waltham for Brandeis classes, and also travel to Brookline where she attended Hebrew College. Her Brandeis major was philosophy and she earned a BA in Hebrew studies at Hebrew College.

Before enrolling, Bentov was concerned about the Brandeis professors because the school was brand new. However, she said they were very good, and praised how the school continues to grow.

Brandeis is everything they aspired to, she said.

Bentov recalled that 97 percent of her class was made up of Jewish students and it took time for non-Jews to want to enroll.

I had a deep feeling as a Jew, she said of her own background. Were not only a religion we are a people.

Even though she attended college during a time period when women often were not treated the same way as their male peers, Bentov said she did not experience sexist behavior at Brandeis from professors or students.

If you were a good student, it didnt matter if you were male or female, she said.

However, that wasnt the case at Hebrew College.

When people would make sexist comments to her there, she said Boy, did that make me burn.

Bentov later married, had a daughter, studied film at BU and went on to earn a PhD in philosophy of education from Harvard quite a feat at the time considering she was only one of two women in the department.

Nowadays she writes stories and poetry and enjoys listening to books on tape, continuing her lifelong love of learning.

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Newton woman, a member of Brandeis' first graduating class, reflects on past - Wicked Local

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