Brandeis Alumni, Family and Friends
Meet Merle Carrus, P’12, the New President of Brandeis National Committee
Merle Eisman Carrus, P’12, book-lover, Brandeis parent, former WGBH Channel 2 production assistant, and dedicated Brandeis National Committee board member, has been tapped to serve as the new president of the BNC. She takes the helm July 1, succeeding Madalyn Friedberg.
Carrus has chaired the Honoring Our History Campaign as vice president of the BNC’s national board. A life member of the BNC, originally a member of the Desert Chapter, she has been a leader of the Greater Boston Chapter and has served as New England Region president.
A bibliophile who blogs at Bite of the Bookworm and reviews books for the NH Jewish Reporter, Carrus serves as a library trustee in her hometown of Hollis, New Hampshire, co-chairs the reading group of the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, and leads the BNC Boston Chapter’s Female Detectives study group.
She and husband Steven have two children: Son Scott is married to Tali (Cohen) and daughter Danielle ’12, MAT’14, is an elementary teacher at a Jewish day school. Mother-in-law Jean Carrus, G’12, is active in the Desert Chapter.
In a Q&A with the Brandeis Alumni Association, Carrus describes her interest in increased virtual programming and in involving more parents in the BNC, and how her love of books, as well as her family ties, connect her to one of the nation’s largest library friends associations.
Q&A With BNC President Merle Carrus, P’12
What does Brandeis mean to the Carrus family?
My mother-in-law is the inspiration behind the family being involved with Brandeis and the Brandeis National Committee. She was a member years ago in New York, and when she moved to Palm Springs, California, she stayed very active in the Desert Chapter. She was on the national board and Western Region president. Every year she would visit us when it was time for the week-long BNC conference. We would drive her down to campus and move her into her dorm room. My daughter as a youngster enjoyed “taking Grandma to college.”
We were all made life members in the 1980s. When my children left home I was able to get more involved in the Boston chapter, and when my mother-in-law stepped off the BNC National Executive Committee board she nominated me.
My daughter had a fabulous experience at Brandeis. My favorite quote from her was after her first week on campus when she said, "Mom, this is like being at summer camp all the time!" She had not only a good education but also the social, religious and extracurricular activities were terrific experiences for her.
Do you have plans to reach out and get more parents involved with Brandeis through the National Committee?
Yes. As a parent, you have a greater interest in the school, and see the purpose of the ongoing success of the university. We are interested in keeping parents connected to the school after their children have graduated.
Since its founding, the BNC has had a special mission of supporting the university’s library. Does the current effort to raise funds for digitization take on new relevance during the pandemic, when activities like using the library must be done remotely?
One of the most attractive qualities of the BNC for me has always been its connection to the library. I am passionate about reading and books. Also, having worked in a role that required me to do quite a bit of research right before the explosion of the personal computer, I can really appreciate the ease of this amazing world of digitization. During a pandemic, it is easy to see how incredibly important having our archives digitized can be.
Do you have ideas for other forms of virtual programming the BNC can offer?
Well, we started with the virtual book club idea. I think there are many similar programs that can be shared across the chapters like that. I will continue to brainstorm ideas with the team to bring fresh innovative programming to keep our members active.
What are you reading these days? What books would you recommend?
My favorite genres are historical fiction and mysteries. Many of my favorite books are Jewish fiction about either our history and the Holocaust or current-day life in Israel. I also love a good mystery novel and the list of great Jewish mystery authors I have been reading is too long to mention. Some of my favorite books right now are “Eternal Life” by Dara Horn and “Waking Lions” by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen. But I also love “Kaddish.com” by Nathan Englander and “Hope: A Tragedy” by Shalom Auslander.
You used to work for WGBH. How does your public television experience relate to what you do for the BNC? And do you have a good Channel 2 auction story?
The positions I held in my television production career gave me experience in budgets, programming, and research, as well as people skills that will assist me as president of the BNC. I really can appreciate the Honoring Our History campaign because in my past I did research as a production assistant to a documentary producer.
My funny Channel 2 auction story is this: I had dreams of being an on-air talent early in my career, so I took a few on-air slots late at night to auction off tables of donated items. One night as I nervously started to read the items available for auction, I mispronounced “Mobil Oil,” the underwriter for “Masterpiece Theatre.” I realized that if I could mispronounce such an easy, common, important word, I was not going to make it as on-air talent. So I stayed behind the camera from then on.
What’s your pitch to get people involved in the BNC?
I’d love to see all the members we have, all the life members out there who aren’t attached to a physical chapter, come back in and join us virtually. I’d like to encourage people to join our mission to support our university, its library, its science programs, and its students. We’re something very unique. No other college or university in the United States has an organization like ours. It’s a great idea socially and philanthropically. I think it’s a great organization.