Rabbi Dr. Bernard Lander, founder and president of Touro College, Lander Institute and associated colleges, passed away on Monday in his home in Queens, N.Y. at the age of 94.
Rabbi Lander was most noted for the unlikely founding of a “competitor” to Yeshiva University, namely, Touro College. The institution ultimately grew to mammoth proportions, with over 23,600 students enrolled in its many undergraduate and graduate programs. It has campuses in New York, Jerusalem, California, Florida, and Nevada, as well as in Russia and Germany.
Dr. Alan Kadish, Senior Provost and Chief Operating Officer of Touro, wrote, “Dr. Lander’s passing is a profound loss. His vision and leadership has been phenomenal. His care and concern for the Jewish people and all of humanity knew no bounds.”
His funeral is scheduled for Tuesday morning in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens at Yeshiva Ohr HaChaim, which is headed by his son Rabbi Daniel Lander. He is survived by his son, three daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
An ordained Orthodox rabbi, Ph.D. in sociology, and a pioneer in Jewish and general higher education, Dr. Lander was one of three associate directors of the Mayor's Committee on Unity, established in 1944 by former New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, which became the city's first Commission on Human Rights. Before establishing Touro College in 1971, he served as a professor of sociology for over 20 years at City University of New York and at Yeshiva University, where he served as dean of its Bernard Revel Graduate School. He served as a consultant to three U.S. Presidents, and served on the commission that established the historic "War on Poverty" program.
A former Rabbi of Beth Jacob Congregation of Baltimore, Dr. Lander was also an Honorary Vice President of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (OU).
Rabbi Lander was the recipient of a landmark ruling by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein concerning dialogue between Catholic religious leaders and rabbis. The ruling was published in 1967 in Rabbi Feinstein’s classic work Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah III, 43; a similar answer to the renowned Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik appears on the same page.