Richard Joel

Richard Joel

Richard M. Joel (born 1950) is the fourth president of Yeshiva University (YU), a Modern Orthodox Jewish university with some 7,000 students at its network of schools, colleges, and universities in New York City. YU is the oldest and most comprehensive institution in the United States combining Jewish scholarship with academic excellence.

Academic and Professional Credentials

Richard M. Joel received his bachelor's and law degrees from New York University, where he was a Root-Tilden Scholar. He has received honorary doctoral degrees from Hebrew College (Boston) and Gratz College. Joel was an assistant district attorney in New York City and deputy chief of appeals under Bronx, NY District Attorney Mario Merola. His career continued as Associate Dean and Professor of Law at YU's Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

At Hillel

From 1989 to 2003, Joel served as president and international director of , an organization which supports Jewish life for college and university students throughout the world. While he was successful at increasing the number of students involved, critics argued that this was as a result of providing stylish, yet meaningless Judaism instead of substantive Judaism. [ [ "Tikkun": "Hillel Incorporated: The Franchising of Modern American Jewry"] ] Critics also argued that Joel's tenure was marked by a domineering approach to the Jewish campus scene, and organizations that didn't join the Hillel umbrella were pushed off campus. [ [ New Voices: Lights Inactive - The death of a Jewish student organization] ]

Investigating Abuse

During his tenure at Hillel, Joel served as the head of the special commission empaneled by the Orthodox Union (OU) to investigate allegations that community leaders had ignored charges against the abusive outreach rabbi Baruch Lanner, an executive with the OU's National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY). The commission concluded that many OU and NCSY leaders had made serious errors in judgment.

At Yeshiva University

Joel became president of YU in 2003, succeeding Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, who had been president since 1976 and continues to work as the university's chancellor. Joel's appointment was controversial due to his lack of rabbinic credentials, which all three previous YU presidents possessed.

Vision for the future

In 2005, Joel announced plans to expand YU's undergraduate population by 1000 students over the following five to seven years. That same year, he founded YU's Center for the Jewish Future and appointed Rabbi Kenneth Brander as its dean. He has continued to draw in scholars from afar, appointing Rabbi Jacob J. Schachter as the center's Senior Scholar.

As president of YU, Joel's goal has been to promote nobility, excellence, community, and connection to Israel among university students, as noted by the school's slogan: "bring wisdom to life". According to his online biography, "The pillars of his vision are nobility of purpose, excellence in education and endeavor, community building and communal responsibility, and a visceral connection with Israel and its people." [ [ Richard Joel Biography] ]

In 2005 Israel's Ministry of Education stopped recognizing some of YU's degrees because they accredited non-academic study at Israeli yeshivas. Joel appeared before the Knesset education and immigration committees in June 2006 in an effort to resolve this impasse. (As of September 2006, the issue remained unresolved.)

Personal life

Joel and his wife Esther, who holds a PhD from YU's Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, have six children. They currently reside in Riverdale, in The Bronx. [McNeil, Kate. [ 'For Yeshiva's president, life can imitate television"] , "The Riverdale Press", January 3, 2008. Accessed May 3, 2008. "Riverdale resident Richard Joel compares his job - president of Yeshiva University - to the presidency of the United States."]

External links

* [ Richard Joel's biography on]


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