Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
Annual Report
| Page 3
Burton Lehman:
A Decade of Distinguished Leadership
as Chair of the Board of Governors
hen asked about his devoted years of leadership
as Chair of HUC-JIR’s Board of Governors,
Burton Lehman says that the motivation and the
rewards have been equally great. “It is this institu-
tion’s mission, and its students, faculty, and adminis-
tration, that have always energized me. Their ideal-
ism, intelligence, and warmth have been a constant
source of inspiration and encouragement. Beyond
ideology and bricks and mortar, the exceptional peo-
ple attracted to study and teach at the College-
Institute and our ultimate product – visionary Jewish
leaders – have sustained my dedication for over two
decades as a Governor and Overseer, and will contin-
ue to engage my commitment for the years to come.”
Lehman first encountered HUC-JIR’s faculty through
the Morris Zimmerman Institute, which he co-found-
ed with Sam Perelson, Stuart Matlins, and Alan
Applebaum in memory of the father of their rabbi
at New York’s Central Synagogue, Rabbi Sheldon
Zimmerman. Lehman will never forget studying
with Dr. Norman Cohen and Dr. Lawrence
Hoffman at the first retreat and being captivated by
their scholarship, warmth, and creativity. And so, in
he joined the New York Board of Overseers,
and became its Chair in 1995, and joined the Board
of Governors in 1991, and became its Chair in 1996.
He brought with him a staunch commitment to edu-
cational institutions as a Trustee of Central Synagogue
and the Town School, and as a member of the Dean’s
Council and Board of Visitors of Columbia Law
The College-
Institute has bene-
fited from countless
hours of Lehman’s
wise counsel in
financial, litigation,
and administrative
matters, drawing
upon his knowl-
edge and distinction in the legal community. A 1962
graduate of Columbia College, he received the J.D.
magna cum laude
from Columbia Law School
in 1965, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar
and Writing and Research Editor of the
Law Review
and clerked for the Hon. Harold R.
Medina in the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.
He is a founding partner of the New York law firm
Schulte Roth & Zabel, and has been Senior Advisor
and General Counsel of Tishman Speyer Properties.
He wrote an op ed article for
The New York Times
advocating a re-emphasis on ethical values and on
the responsibility of the legal profession to society.
This commitment to values has found powerful
expression through his association with the College-
Over the past decade, Lehman’s goal has been to
strengthen Governors’ involvement through inclusivi-
ty, consultation, and participation in process through
work on committees and task forces. “People come
to board meetings because they want to, not because
they have to,” he notes. “Communication is the key
to collegial, informed working relationships.” Lehman’s
gracious leadership has reinforced the bonds of friend-
ship and shared mission among the Governors. He
has also actively fostered closer ties among the arms
of the Reform Movement, through the work of the
Reform Leadership Council, bringing together the
lay and professional heads of the College-Institute,
the URJ, and the CCAR for regular consultation.
The College-
Institute’s achieve-
ments under
Lehman’s tenure
are many, including
an endowment
campaign that has
reached $120 mil-
lion, in support of
HUC-JIR’s core
Burton Lehman presented
the Torah and the charge
to Rabbi Ellenson at his
inauguration as President
of HUC-JIR at the Plum
Street Temple in
Cincinnati on October
13, 2002.