Burton Lehman, Past Chair of the Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at graduation Ceremonies on Thursday, May 3, 2007 at Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York.
Burton Lehman, a prominent communal leader of New York City, served as Chairman of the Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion for a decade. He is a founding partner of the New York Law firm Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP and has been Senior Advisor and General Counsel of Tishman Speyer Properties, a leading international owner/builder of real estate.
For over two decades as a Governor and Overseer, the College-Institute has benefited from Lehman's commitment to leadership, Jewish values, and support of the faculty who train tomorrow's Jewish leaders. His leadership has seen the growth of HUC-JIR's endowment to $107 million, the integration of core academic programs, the revitalization of the faculty, the enhancement of student scholarships, and the fortification of the library, archives, and museum research resources. His tenure has been a period of innovation and growth, with the establishment of cutting-edge projects and institutes in Jewish education, pastoral counseling, Judaism and health, outreach, Sephardic studies, and Jewish renaissance in the Former Soviet Union. It is under his leadership that the Los Angeles School was transformed into an institution with a full rabbinical program leading to ordination and the School of Sacred Music was expanded to a five-year program. His dedication to the integrity and continuity of HUC-JIR academic programs in Israel, advancing religious pluralism, has been unwavering.
A 1962 graduate of Columbia College, he received the J.D. degree, magna cum laude, from Columbia Law School in 1965, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar (1963-1965) and Writing and Research Editor of the Columbia Law Review (1964-1965). He served as Law Clerk to the Hon. Harold R. Medina in the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit (1965-1966) and as Assistant Counsel, Temporary New York State Commission on Constitutional Convention (1966).
Mr. Lehman's professional leadership has extended to his service as Chairman of the New York City Bar Association Program on Institutional Investors, Corporate Governance and Proxy Reform and his membership on various New York State Bar Association Committees. He is also a member of The Florida Bar. He joined the Board of Overseers of HUC-JIR's New York School in 1989, where he served as Vice Chair and Chair, Mr. Lehman was inducted onto the College-Institute's Board of Governors in 1991, where he has served as a member of the Executive Committee and then was elected Chair in 1996.
He has served as a Trustee of Central Synagogue and on its Nominating, By-Law Revision and Rabbinic Search Committees, and on the Board of the Town School (1979-1989). He was a member of the Dean's Council of Columbia Law School and Chairman of the 25th Reunion Fund.
At the College-Institute's Graduation Ceremony, honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees were also awarded to Aaron Feuerstein, Founder, Chair, CEO, Malden Mills; Lynn Shusterman, Founder and Chair, Charles and Lynn Shusterman Family Foundation; Dr. Judith Plaskow, Professor of Religious Studies, Manhattan College; and Harold Tanner, Chair, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organization.
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