Thousands Gather To Commemorate The First Yahrzeit of Touro College Founding President Rabbi Dr. Bernard Lander zt”l, A World Jewish Leader and Educator
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President and CEO Dr. Alan Kadish and Chief Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau Headline Community-Wide Colloquium on Jewish Education.
New York, N.Y. – Thousands gathered at a series of events held recently in commemoration of the first yahrzeit of Touro College Founding President, Rabbi Dr. Bernard Lander zt”l. The programs were held to honor his memory and continue his legacy as a world Jewish leader and educator. Community leaders, educators and a wide spectrum of the far-reaching Touro College community joined in the special activities.
The events began on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011 with a much-anticipated and standing-room only reception, followed by a colloquium entitled “Jewish Education and Identity in a New Global Reality,” a tribute to the life and achievements of Dr. Lander. The event was held at the Lander College for Women – The Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School in Manhattan.
Touro College President and CEO Dr. Alan Kadish; special guest speaker Chief Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau, the chief rabbi of Tel Aviv; Touro College Chancellor Rabbi Doniel Lander, son of Dr. Lander and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Ohr Hachaim in Queens; and Dr. Mark Hasten, chairman of the board of trustees of Touro College, all praised Dr. Lander and his magnificent accomplishments. They were joined by The Honorable Ido Aharoni, Acting Consul General at the Consulate General of Israel in New York, as well as executives representing the leadership of the organized Jewish community. Dr. Lander passed away on Feb. 8, 2010 (25th of Shevat, 5770), at the age of 94.
An exceptional visionary and iconic individual who devoted his life to Jewish and general higher education, Dr. Lander was a preeminent scholar and leader in the Jewish community. His mission in life was to strengthen Jewish continuity and to provide educational opportunities for individuals from all walks of life. Under his leadership, Touro became a multi-campus, international institution that educates more than 18,000 students at 31 locations across the country and around the world.
The evening began with a reception at the women’s college, where Dean Marian Stoltz-Loike warmly greeted a vast crowd with poignant recollections of Dr. Lander. Dean Stoltz-Loike also expressed deep gratitude to Dr. Kadish, whom she called “a man of integrity who has seamlessly accepted the torch that was lit for nearly 40 years by our beloved Dr. Lander.”
“Dr. Kadish is poised to stand on Dr. Lander’s shoulders to lead us to future accomplishments,” said Dean Stoltz-Loike. “I know that I speak for my colleagues and our students and devoted faculty when I express our appreciation for the leadership of Dr. Alan Kadish.”
At the program following the reception, Dr. Kadish discussed the Jewish intellectual tradition that embodies Touro College and how it reflects the vision of Dr. Lander, who, he said, “represented that tradition at its finest level” and applied it to education and to human rights.
Noting that he learned more from Dr. Lander than any other leader or academic he has worked with during his career, Dr. Kadish said Dr. Lander’s vision will continue to guide Touro College into the next century.
“We who follow after Dr. Lander will continue to grow and develop the Jewish intellectual tradition he revered and lived by,” Dr. Kadish said. “Our tradition of using Torah values and our intellectual heritage to advance education and the university experience is one of our most important goals. The Jewish intellectual tradition has given us much, and at Touro, we are transforming that gift into education that is the bridge to changing lives and defining who we are. We invite each of you to join in our quest as we strengthen this tradition for future generations.”
Following his remarks, Dr. Kadish introduced Chief Rabbi Lau, 73, an internationally-renowned orator and a highly-respected dignitary, who is often characterized as a spokesman for the Jewish people and a consensus-builder in the community. Chief Rabbi Lau was received by a standing ovation, as he recalled Dr. Lander and his many achievements.
Relying on the teachings of the Torah, Chief Rabbi Lau described how the Almighty instructed Moshe Rabbeinu to construct certain unique tools, including silver trumpets, to communicate with and assist the Jewish people during their 40-year journey through the desert. These silver trumpets held a special place in Jewish history, Chief Rabbi Lau said, adding that Dr. Lander also created unique tools, like the silver trumpets, to communicate with the Jewish people in the modern era. Touro College was the manifestation of the modern-day trumpet, the Chief Rabbi said.
“Dr. Lander knew how to blow the trumpets,” said Chief Rabbi Lau. “In the environment of the modern world, he built a beautiful institution in Touro College, and he was a giant in his accomplishments. From America to Israel to around the world, he knew to use education as a tool to reach out and bring the Jewish people together in the 21st century. He used timeless traditions to bring people together. He changed the world for the better.”
Chief Rabbi Lau’s emotional remarks about his dear, departed friend and colleague resonated with and inspired the audience, many of whom had also known Dr. Lander for many years.
“We are so honored that Chief Rabbi Lau was able to be here tonight for this very special commemoration for our beloved Dr. Lander,” said Dr. Hasten. “This institution is Dr. Lander’s legacy and will continue to educate this generation and future generations to come.”
Rabbi Doniel Lander said at the close of the evening that the commemoration was a meaningful tribute to his father. “His legacy, as the founder and builder of this institution, will be the strengthening and passing of tradition and education from this generation to the next,” Rabbi Lander said.
In addition to Thursday evening’s reception and colloquium, Chief Rabbi Lau was hosted in the Kew Gardens Hills community of Queens by Rabbi Lander for Shabbos Parshas Terumah. The program included a community-wide Shalosh Seudos that drew an enormous crowd even though it was relocated from the Lander College for Men in Queens to Yeshivas Ohr Hachaim due to inclement weather. On Shabbos night, a moving Siyum HaShas was conducted in tribute to Dr. Lander. The event was heavily attended, with major rabbinic, community and Touro leadership present, as well as students from local yeshivas.
The weekend concluded with a reception and commemoration on Sunday to benefit the Lander Colleges’ honors/scholarship programs, in Dr. Lander’s memory. This event was hosted by Touro board member and Lawrence Mayor Martin Oliner at the Lawrence Yacht and Country Club in Lawrence, New York.