Orthodox Union’s Ben Zakkai Honor Society to Honor the Memory of Touro College’s Rabbi Dr. Bernard Lander Z”l on Jan. 30, 2011

Date: January 19, 2011
From left: OU Vice President Dr. Bernard Lander; OU Board Member David Luchins and U.S. Senator Hubert Humphrey at the 1973 OU National Dinner.
From left: OU Vice President Dr. Bernard Lander; OU Board Member David Luchins and U.S. Senator Hubert Humphrey at the 1973 OU National Dinner.
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Dr. David Luchins of Touro College and Wife, Vivian, to be Honored With ‘Sarah Rivkah and Rabbi Dr. Bernard Lander Memorial Award’.

New York, N.Y. – The Orthodox Union (OU) will pay tribute to the remarkable legacy of Touro College’s founder and president, Rabbi Dr. Bernard Lander z”l, who passed away last year on Feb. 8, 2010, at the age of 94. The OU is honoring Dr. Lander’s memory by presenting an award in his name at its annual Ben Zakkai Honor Society (BZHS) scholarship reception on Sunday, Jan. 30, at the Bohemian National Hall in Manhattan.

The award is a fitting tribute to Dr. Lander, a pioneer in Jewish and general higher education, who was a leader in the Jewish community in New York City, as well as considered a legend by many within OU circles, having served as a director and officer on the OU board since 1938. (Dr. Lander served on the OU’s board for 72 of the organization’s 112 years.)

Dr. David Luchins, chairman of the political science department of Touro College and founding dean of Touro’s Lander College for Women/The Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School, will be presented, along with his wife, Vivian, with the prestigious award in Dr. Lander’s name by NCSY, the international youth movement of the OU.

“The Touro College community is extremely proud that the OU is honoring Dr. Lander’s memory with this award,” said Dr. Alan Kadish, who succeeded Dr. Lander as president and CEO of Touro College. “Honoring Dr. David and Vivian Luchins with the Lander Memorial Award for their long-time service and dedication to the OU is perfectly fitting and we wish them continued success.”

Dr. Luchins had a close, decades-long relationship with Dr. Lander, having first met him at the OU’s 1964 Biennial Convention in Washington, D.C.

“Dr. Lander’s historic role in helping to create and nurture NCSY ensured him a special place in contemporary American history even before he set out to revolutionize higher education by founding Touro College,” Dr. Luchins said. “Vivian and I are honored to receive an award that bears his and his extraordinary wife’s names."

When Touro College opened in 1971, Dr. Lander provided NCSY Leadership Scholarships that enabled NCSY officers to attend the new college, according to Dr. Luchins, who added that more than 200 NCSY graduates have received these scholarships during the past 40 years. Dr. Lander also ensured that Touro co-sponsored and helped fund numerous NCSY programs, including Machon Ma’ayan seminary in Israel, the annual week-long Yarchei Kallah learning program in December, Yom NCSY in Jerusalem for summer program participants, and specific projects in almost every NCSY region from coast to coast.

“Of all of Dr. Lander’s many achievements at the OU, the one of which he was most proud was his role in creating and nurturing NCSY,” Dr. Luchins said. Dr. Luchins recalled that Dr. Lander often spoke of the 1954 OU Convention where he helped to convince a skeptical plenary session to endorse the concept of a nationwide Orthodox synagogue youth movement. Dr. Lander served for more than 20 years on the Joint Youth Commission, fighting to ensure that NCSY received the support it needed to survive, including the historic decision to hire Rabbi Pinchas Stolper in 1959 and backing his insistence on uniform halachic (Jewish law) standards at all NCSY programs.

BZHS is an alumni Hall of Fame whose new members are nominated based on their service to NCSY and the Jewish community. The society’s main function is to raise funds for scholarships for high school NCSY members for summer programs in North America and Israel, and for teens to continue their Jewish education after high school.

Dr. Luchins has been a national officer of the OU since 1976. For two decades, he served on the staff of the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, culminating his service as the Senator’s senior advisor.

Vivian Luchins served a record four years on the NCSY national board while she was in high school, as the president of the organization, and later, as volunteer regional director for the Sullivan/Ulster County Region in the Catskills. She was one of the first public school NCSY members to graduate from Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women. Mrs. Luchins serves with distinction on the national board of the OU and as chairperson of the OU Youth Commission’s Summer Programs Committee.