Frederick Lawrence usually wears a tie, but is proud that he has shed it to conform with Israel’s casual standards. The erudite president of Brandeis University sits for coffee in front of giant glass windows overlooking the pool of the David Intercontinental Hotel along Tel Aviv’s beach promenade. He seems at rest in the Jewish state.

Lawrence is here as part of a Massachusetts-Israel trade and academic mission, accompanying the governor of his state, Deval Patrick. He is in his fourth year as president of one of America’s most unusual academic institutions, the non-sectarian university with strong Jewish roots that boasts an almost half-Jewish student body.

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