More than 400 students and faculty at the women’s program of Touro’s Lander College in Flatbush participated in an event last week to commemorate the seventh yahrzeit of Rabbi Dr. Bernard (Dov Berish) Lander, zt’l, Touro’s founder and first president.
After the recitation of Tehillim by academic dean Dr. Henry Abramson, the crowd heard personal memories and reflections from Dr. Robert Goldschmidt, vice president and executive dean. Goldschmidt described Dr. Lander as a humble man with a simple lifestyle who devoted his life to building schools that would offer career-focused education and serve the parnassah needs of the Orthodox Jewish community. According to Dr. Goldschmidt, who was privileged to work with President Lander for 36 years, the secret of Dr. Lander’s success was his “Ahavas Yisrael and lev tov” that were reflected in the keser shem tov he earned throughout his life.
Dr. Lander’s life was filled with thousands of acts of chesed. Quoting Rav Elimelech of Lizhensk, Dean Goldschmidt said that Dr. Lander always strove to see the ma’alos in Yidden, and dedicated his life to nurturing those qualities in so many thousands of people, encouraging them to believe in themselves and their capacity to succeed. “Dr. Lander was a uniter, not a divider,” said Goldschmidt. “Thousands of families and their children are today the beneficiaries of the network of schools Dr. Lander built.”
“Although Dr. Lander is gone,” noted Dr. Goldschmidt, “his legacy lives on.”
The second speaker was Rabbi Dr. Dov Bressler, dean of undergraduate business at Touro, rav of Hebrew Institute Bais Medrash in Far Rockaway, and rosh kollel of Tiferes Avos in the Five Towns. Rabbi Bressler said that Dr. Lander showed how it was possible to be a shomer Torah and mitzvos, to set aside time for Torah learning, and simultaneously to be mashpia parnassah for thousands of families. “The lesson from Dr. Lander’s life,” said Rabbi Bressler, “is that a person must engage in hishtadlus for parnassah and maintain his or her bitachon that he will be guided by Hashem to be able to do this in concert with the kiyum of Torah and mitzvos.”
The final speaker, Ms. Laya Kolomiiets from Kiev, was a representative of one of the hallmark programs at Touro’s Lander College in Flatbush–the Open Curtain/Bnos Batya. Launched in 2005 with the endorsement and blessing of Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky, shlita, this program offers an opportunity to young women whose families still live in Russia and the Ukraine to pursue higher education while studying in seminary. Approximately 30 young women each year receive student visas and full-time scholarships from Touro in Flatbush where they attend college while studying at Bais Yaakov Academy seminary. Over the past decade, many of these students have graduated, married, and begun raising Torah families in New York and Lakewood.
Kolomiiets, a biology major who aspires to become a pharmacist and complete her education at the Touro College of Pharmacy, movingly expressed her gratitude to President Lander for his generosity. She spoke of how he enabled her and her friends to pursue college studies in an environment where her Yiddishkeit was strengthened, and she painted a stark contrast to the reality she would have faced back in the Ukraine, where her family still resides today.
The program included a video presentation of Dr. Lander and concluded with the recital of Kel Malei Rachamim by Dr. Melech Press, chair of the psychology department.