Bernard Lander, Touro College Founder, Dies at 94


Published February 10, 2010, issue of February 19, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Rabbi Bernard Lander, the founder and president of Touro College, died February 8 of congestive heart failure at his home in Queens, the college has announced. He was 94.

Lander started Touro in 1971 after spending two decades as a sociology professor at Yeshiva University, where he also served as dean of the university’s Bernard Revel Graduate School.

“Dr. Lander’s passing is a profound loss,” Dr. Alan Kadish, the senior provost and chief operating officer of Touro, wrote in a statement from the school, according to Israel National News. “His vision and leadership has been phenomenal. His care and concern for the Jewish people and all of humanity knew no bounds.”

Kadish, who joined Touro in September, has been chosen to succeed Lander as president.

The Orthodox four-year institution has become an alternative to Yeshiva University.

A social scientist and educator, Lander was named one of three associate directors in 1944 of the Mayor’s Committee on Unity, which eventually became New York City’s Commission on Human Rights.

A statement released by Touro said Lander was inspired to launch the college after completing a study for Notre Dame University of student unrest on college campuses and concluding that students were reacting to “becoming a number rather than a face.” He found little unrest at small, faith-based colleges. At the same time, he was plagued by the specter of Jewish youth losing their Jewish identity on American college campuses, and envisioned a network of Jewish-sponsored colleges that would combine liberal arts and sciences with Jewish studies.

Lander firmly believed that Jewish studies should be combined with secular education to give all Jews the opportunity to earn a living and support their families with dignity, the college said.

Initially a single small liberal arts and sciences college for men with Jewish studies — Touro grew into network of undergraduate, graduate and professional schools that would serve Jewish and non-Jewish students. Following the opening of its first college for men in 1971, a women’s division was added in 1974. Touro College grew from 35 students in midtown Manhattan to 29 schools, educating 17,500 students at undergraduate, graduate and professional programs in New York, California, Nevada, Florida, Israel, Russia, Germany and France.

Lander was born in Manhattan on June 17, 1915, the first of three children of David Lander and Goldie Teitelbaum, who immigrated in the early 20th century to the United States from Poland. He grew up in lower Manhattan, where his father worked predominantly in the garment industry.

He attended local public school and at the same time began Torah studies. At nine, he left public school and enrolled in the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School, one of the first schools of religious and secular studies.

In 1929 he transferred to the Talmudical Academy, the Yeshiva College’s affiliate high school. He continued his studies at Yeshiva College, where he graduated with honors in 1936. He studied for his rabbinical ordination at the Rabbi Issac Elchaan Theological Seminary and was ordained in 1938. He earned a doctorate in sociology from Columbia University.

JTA contributed to this story.

Find us on Facebook!
  • "1. Sex. She had it. She liked it. She didn’t make a big deal of it." What were your favorite Elaine moments on Seinfeld?
  • "Mamie Eisenhower had one, and if you came of age during the 1950s, chances are you had one, too. I’m referring to the charm bracelet, that metallic cluster of miniaturized icons that hung from, and often strained, the wrist of every self-respecting, well-dressed woman in postwar America." Do you have charm bracelet memories? Share them with us!
  • How the Gaza War started — and how it can end:
  • This could be the first ancient synagogue mosaic to feature a non-biblical narrative.
  • "Suddenly we heard a siren, but it was very faint. We pulled the kids out of the pool, and then we heard a big boom."
  • Why the bloody onslaught in Gaza is built on politics and lies: Read and share this explosive insight from J.J. Goldberg.
  • The crisis in Israel caught two interns — an Israeli and a Palestinian — far from home. Guess what? They're still friends.
  • The gang's all here!
  • "Neither the 'blood feud' nor the 'honor killing' theory of Abu Khdeir's murder ever made sense — and their manufacture constituted a blood libel against all Palestinians." What do you think?
  • Why hasn't the Zionist Organization of American condemned the revenge killing of Mohammed Abu Khdeir?
  • Why recognize an independent Kurdistan now?
  • So. Many. Nazi. Jokes.
  • Once a symbol of peaceful cohabitation, the Jerusalem light rail is now a prime target for violence.
  • "My wife and I are observant Jews who are heartbroken about the fact that both of our children married non-Jews. My daughter married out first, and is now raising non-Jewish children and grandchildren and even celebrates Christmas. As for my son, he is more observant than my daughter, but still a few years ago I found out he was living with a non-Jewish woman for nine years. She is not a stable woman, emotionally or physically, and now she is pregnant and will not convert. I do not visit my children in their homes, but am pleasant when they visit us. My wife says I need to move on and welcome their partners in our home. So where to from here?"
  • These women have encountered unusual mikveh experiences and survived to tell the tale: "Among them are the adventurous vacationer who battles sharks and surfers to dunk in the freezing waters of the Indian Ocean, the mikveh attendant who is an aspiring opera star, and the late night mikveh goer who gets locked inside."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.