July 24, 2024
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YU Celebrates Dr. Herbert Dobrinsky’s Six Decades of Impact

From left, David Azrieli, Stephanie Lefcourt, President Norman Lamm, Rabbi Alvin Schiff and Dr. Herbert Dobrinsky.

(Courtesy of YU) In the corridors of academia, where the impact of philanthropy enables the pursuit of knowledge, there exists a figure whose name is synonymous with translating values into action. For 60 years, Dr. Herbert C. Dobrinsky, Yeshiva University’s Vice President for University Affairs, has had worked tirelessly toward the same goal: strengthening and advancing the institution he so clearly loves.

Serving under four of YU’s five presidents, Dr. Dobrinsky is truly a product of Yeshiva University, graduating from Yeshiva University’s High School for Boys (’50), Yeshiva College (’54), Rabbi Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) (’57) and the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology (’59). In 1980, he continued on at Ferkauf to earn his doctoral degree. In return, he dedicated his career to endeavors that not only elevated the University’s stature but also transformed countless lives.

“Dr. Dobrinsky has left an indelible mark on this University, one that will continue to touch generations of students,” said Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, president of Yeshiva University. “While he has benefitted countless lives and has had a large scale impact on Jewish history, Dr. Dobrinsky is perhaps best celebrated for his love and individual care for each and every one of our students, alumni and benefactors. He is for me a mentor and for our entire community an inspiration.”

A towering personality, Dr. Dobrinsky truly personifies YU, blending Torah scholarship with academic excellence and devotion to the Jewish people. The dynamic force behind some of the University’s most ambitious endeavors, he is widely known for his ability to transform dreams into tangible realities through the power of philanthropy.

After serving for five years as the rabbi of Beth Israel Synagogue in Halifax, Nova Scotia, he was invited by Yeshiva University to a leadership position in the Community Service Division and was later named Vice President for University Affairs. Dr. Dobrinsky is credited with launching a planned giving program, advocating for gifts that help secure the University in perpetuity. A co-founder of YU’s Sephardic Community Program and Sephardic Studies Program, he is the author of A Treasury of Sephardic Laws and Customs, used by universities and schools the world over.

Dr. Dobrinsky was instrumental in the founding of the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration by securing a $1 million contribution from David J. Azrieli, z”l of Montreal, his largest gift at that time. He later supplemented that gift by securing an additional $3 million from matching gifts. His imprint is apparent through the 38 professorial chairs and five boards of overseers he has established, in addition to the many hundreds of scholarships he has secured for deserving and needy students from throughout the United States, Canada, Israel, Europe, Central and South America.

Among his greatest achievements is the ability to connect with scores of people, sharing the importance of Yeshiva University’s role in the Jewish community and beyond. Those on the receiving end of his goodwill have been touched by his unique ability to remember the details of their lives with care and concern. Dr. Dobrinsky’s remarkable sense of recall, both institutional and personal, is legendary.

“There is only one Dr. Dobrinsky in this universe, and Yeshiva University has been very blessed to have Dr. Dobrinsky as part of our family. He has worked every day with tireless passion and unparalleled commitment to YU’s mission, and everyone who knows him is a dear friend,” said YU Senior Philanthropic Advisor Daniel Forman, who served as vice president of institutional advancement from 1995 to 2015. “His commitment continues to inspire the many professionals and volunteers who had the good fortune of working with him, and they will carry forth his beliefs and vision to build a stronger Jewish world.”

As the sun sets on a remarkable career spanning six decades, the university is paying homage to a titan of fundraising, whose unwavering dedication has sculpted the very fabric of its aspirations. Not only has he raised hundreds of millions of dollars for Yeshiva University, but he also has fostered a culture of giving, instilling in others the belief that together, we can shape a brighter Jewish future for generations to come.

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