Following Nearly a Decade of Distinguished Service, Rabbi Daniel L. Lehmann to Step Down from Hebrew College Presidency

VIEW AS PDF pdf icon

JULY 11, 2017 (Newton Centre, MA) – Rabbi Daniel L. Lehmann, under whose stewardship Hebrew College has set the standard for Jewish learning and leadership for a pluralistic world, announced to the Hebrew College community today that he would step down from his position as president during the next academic year. 

As president for nearly a decade, Rabbi Lehmann has led Hebrew College to become the premier center of pluralistic Jewish education, focusing on the intersection of rigorous intellectual exploration, spiritual creativity, and communal transformation. As a national leader in Jewish education and religious leadership, Hebrew College supports creative programs and partnerships locally and establishes academic programs that inspire and cultivate leaders across the Jewish world.

“After nine extraordinary and deeply fulfilling years at Hebrew College, I have decided it is the right time, both personally and institutionally, for a change. It has been a distinct privilege and blessing to lead this venerable institution and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such a vibrant and committed community of learning,” Rabbi Lehmann stated in an announcement to the Hebrew College community. “Teaching current and future Jewish educators, rabbis and cantors, as well as teens and adults, has been a great source of joy to me.”

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to thank Rabbi Daniel Lehmann for his extraordinary leadership as President of Hebrew College,” said Andrew Offit, the newly-elected Chair of the Board for Hebrew College. “Since 2008, President Lehmann has dedicated himself tirelessly to advancing the mission of our nearly 100-year-old College and to developing new channels through which to deliver innovative programming to meet the changing needs of the Jewish world. We have become a national leader in Jewish education and religious leadership by supporting creative programs and partnerships locally, and establishing academic programs that inspire and cultivate leaders across the Jewish world, and we are deeply grateful for his service to our community.” 

Rabbi Lehmann arrived at the College in 2008 and took on the challenge of bringing Hebrew College to the forefront of Jewish education, taking innovative approaches to address the needs of an evolving Jewish world – including online graduate degrees in Jewish Education and Jewish Studies, an intensive three-year cantorial ordination program, and positioning the College as a pioneer in interfaith and interreligious programs.  

He managed to significantly enhance Hebrew College’s financial stability, and strengthen its relationships with funders, community leaders, and partner organizations, as well as forge new partnerships with other Boston-area institutions of higher learning, including Northeastern University, Lesley University, and most recently, the Boston University School of Theology. Through his efforts, Hebrew College became the first non-Christian member of the Boston Theological Institute, a consortium of nine graduate schools of theology. He strengthened relationships with local and national organizations and, in partnership with Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Hebrew College’s Me’ah program blossomed into a variety of initiatives designed to serve a broader range of Jewish adults. In addition, the College’s teen programs are shaping the future of Jewish leadership and philanthropy and building strong ties to Jewish life and lifelong learning.

Further expanding Hebrew College’s reach, Rabbi Lehmann emphasized and nurtured its relationship with Israel, broadening partnerships and collaborations with institutions in Israel, and spearheading the formulation of the College’s Israel Statement.

"Rabbi Lehmann has been a powerful and innovative educational leader in Boston's Jewish community for more than two decades,” commented Barry Shrage, President of Combined Jewish Philanthropies. “He helped define the philosophy of Gann Academy, which became the model of a successful Jewish high school for communities across the country. As President of Hebrew College, he brought financial stability, led a significant expansion of adult learning in close partnership with CJP, and propelled Hebrew College to the forefront of pluralistic Jewish learning and leadership."

Ann McClenahan, Executive Director of the Boston Theological Institute, said, “Just as Daniel Lehmann made transformative changes at Hebrew College, so he has brought transformation to the Boston Theological Institute (BTI), the largest interreligious academic consortium in the United States. The BTI Trustees and I continue to appreciate and learn from his energetic and creative leadership as Board Chair.”

Hebrew College is moving forward into the next academic year with momentum given recent successful outcomes in a number of different programs, including: 

  • The Rabbinical School and School of Jewish Music will both welcome historically large incoming classes.
  • The Shoolman Graduate School of Jewish education has received another grant from the Legacy Heritage Foundation and from the Crown Family Philanthropies to support new graduate students.
  • The College, together with the Boston University School of Theology, will share a new grant from the Luce Foundation to support the College’s collaboration with the BU School of Theology to continue the publication of their joint on-line interfaith journal and blog.
  • The Adult Learning programs have surpassed enrollment expectations and are gearing up for further expansion with several new programs.
  • Prozdor, Hebrew College’s teen education program, will be the exclusive sponsor of an expanded Jewish Teen Foundation of Greater Boston program and will be developing new collaborations with Gateways and area independent schools.

Hebrew College is positioned to move toward its centennial year with new strategies for becoming even more relevant and adaptable to the changing landscape of American Jewish life. Rabbi Lehmann will take a sabbatical for part of the next academic year, during which he will be writing on pluralism and Jewish education as well as assisting in a smooth transition to new leadership.

A search committee is already underway to identify the college’s next president, and will focus on leadership, vision and long-term sustainability in its selection process, engaging key stakeholders including board members, funders and partners, local and national advisors, and current faculty, students and alumni.

About Hebrew College

Founded in 1921, Hebrew College promotes excellence in Jewish learning and leadership within a pluralistic environment of open inquiry, intellectual rigor, personal engagement and spiritual creativity. Its programs include a Rabbinical School, a School of Jewish Music, a School of Jewish Education, and graduate degrees and courses in Jewish studies; community education for adult learners; and a supplemental Hebrew high school and middle school (