(Courtesy of Yeshiva University) The vaulted ceilings and towering stained glass windows of Yeshiva University’s Lamport Auditorium have changed little since the days when talmidim would assemble to hear Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik deliver his major public lectures to packed audiences.
In recent years, however, the nearly century old space in the heart of YU’s Wilf Campus in Washington Heights has begun to show its age. Now, thanks to the advocacy of Senator Chuck Schumer, Lamport Auditorium will be restored to its original splendor.
Proposed renovations to Lamport Auditorium were among the projects included by Senator Schumer in the bipartisan federal omnibus spending package for fiscal year 2023 signed into law last December by President Biden. Under this new federal spending package, the Lamport project will receive $1.5 million in community project funding, which will restore the auditorium’s celebrated Art Deco and Moorish-gothic revival architecture to their original splendor. The auditorium will also receive important modernizations including cutting-edge audiovisual technologies.
“Senator Schumer is a true friend of Yeshiva University and champion of the Jewish people. This grant empowers us to restore an important piece of New York’s Jewish history,” said Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, president of Yeshiva University. “Lamport Auditorium is both beautiful and historic, and by returning it to its original glory, as well as much-needed upgrades, we anticipate many years of use in hosting important cultural icons and local community events.”
Lamport Auditorium and Zysman Hall, the building that houses the space, reflect Yeshiva University’s long history as both the world’s flagship Jewish institution of higher learning and an anchor of Upper Manhattan. Designed by the famed architects Charles B. Meyers and Henry Beaumont Herts and completed in 1928 to house the newly-established Yeshiva College, Zysman was built in a unique blend of traditional Moorish-gothic and Byzantine styles together with then-modern Art Deco flourishes. At present, the building is the home of the University’s affiliated Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy, also known as Yeshiva University High School for Boys, as well as a study hall, classrooms and residence space for the University.
An important landmark in Washington Heights and a major part of the cultural heritage of New York’s Jewish immigrant community, Lamport Auditorium has hosted countless dignitaries, beginning with YU’s Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, zt”l, as well as Golda Meir, Albert Einstein and Eleanor Roosevelt. To this day, it continues to serve as a place of reunion and discourse for the entire community, including frequently hosting graduation ceremonies for local Washington Heights schools. During the 2018-2019 school year, the last full year before COVID, the space welcomed over 20,000 visitors during dozens of university and public events.
The highest-ranking elected Jewish politician in American history with a longtime connection to Yeshiva University, Schumer is committed to maintaining the legacy of landmark institutions like Lamport Auditorium.
“I am proud to have secured this funding for Yeshiva University to modernize Lamport Auditorium with cutting-edge technology and restore its historic architecture,” said Schumer. “Lamport Auditorium is a piece of New York’s Jewish history and its restoration and modernization will enable many more decades of hosting cultural figures, dignitaries and local community events important to the Washington Heights community. I’ll continue fighting for the federal resources to support Yeshiva University, its faculty, staff, students, and the broader community.”
“The restoration project will contribute economically and culturally to the community,” continued Rabbi Dr. Berman. “The project is anticipated to produce several jobs for the duration of restoration work and will help to ensure the preservation of a space that embodies the cultural heritage of the neighborhood.”
For more information regarding Yeshiva University, visit www.yu.edu.