New York—The Touro College community gathered at Yeshivas Ohr Hachaim recently to commemorate the fourth yahrtzeit of Rabbi Dr. Bernard Lander, founder and first president of the Touro College and University System.
Dr. Lander was a Jewish activist and scholar who developed Touro College into the venerable and successful institution it is today, with 32 schools in five countries. For the better part of seven decades, Dr. Lander met and advised mayors, governors, and presidents. Of his countless accomplishments, he was most proud of providing opportunities in education those who lacked them, and was able to create environments that- strengthened limud ha’Torah.
Featured speaker Rabbi Nosson Scherman, editor of Artscroll/Mesorah Publications, said that when Pharaoh asked Yaakov how old he was, the 130-year-old patriarch answered, “Few and bad have been the days of the years of my life and they have not reached the life spans of my fathers.” Rabbi Scherman said that, according to Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, Yaakov responded in this way to demonstrate that even one who has lived for many years may not have many days in his life in which he’s made a difference.
“Every day of his life mattered to Yaakov Avinu,” he said. “Rabbi Dov Baer Lander lived every day of his life, a long, long life, and to the last day he was dreaming and thinking and planning and doing and building and accomplishing. No day was wasted.”
Rabbi Doniel Lander, Dr. Lander’s son and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Ohr Hachaim, told the gathering,
“My father, alav hashalom, devoted his life to the needs of Klal Yisrael,” he said. “Although he was a very generous man personally, his greatest form of tzedakah was to offer the gift of dignity to thousands of mishpachos that could not obtain parnassa in the system before the establishment of Touro.”
A year ago, Touro released Dr. Lander’s biography, “The Lander Legacy: The Life Story of Rabbi Dr. Bernard Lander,” by Peter Weisz (Ktav Publishing House, Inc.). The book begins with the story of David and Goldie Lander, European immigrants to the U.S. and describes the Touro founder’s early years as a young rabbi in Baltimore, his numerous accomplishments and the experiences which convinced him to create great yeshivos and academic institutions under Jewish auspices.
At the time of his passing in 2010, Dr. Lander had achieved more in one lifetime than most could in ten. While advocating for and working on behalf of Klal Yisrael, he too was able to impact on so many diverse communities, cultures and causes across New York and the country, he helped Touro evolve from a tiny school with 35 students in the first graduating class to a flourishing international institution serving over 19,000 students worldwide.