Richard Joel

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Richard M. Joel
President of Yeshiva University
Assumed office
Preceded by Norman Lamm
Personal details
Born (1950-09-09) 9 September 1950 (age 68)
Spouse(s) Esther née Ribne
Alma mater New York University
Occupation attorney, professor

Richard M. Joel (born September 9, 1950) is the fourth president of Yeshiva University (YU), a Modern Orthodox Jewish university with some 7,000 students at its undergraduate and graduate divisions in New York City. In addition, Joel has traveled the globe giving talks on topics of Jewish leadership and identity at numerous universities and Jewish Federations.[1]

Academic and professional credentials

Richard Joel received his BA and JD from New York University, where he was a Root-Tilden law scholar, and has received honorary doctorates from Boston Hebrew College and Gratz College. He was an assistant district attorney in New York, and Deputy Chief of Appeals in the Bronx. His career continued as associate dean and professor of law at YU's Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.[2] President Joel is an at-large member of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU) Board of Trustees.[2][not in citation given]

At Hillel

From 1989 to 2003, Joel served as President and International director of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, an organization which supports Jewish life for college and university students throughout the world. In 1994, Joel orchestrated Hillel's independence from B'nai B'rith, its parent organization since 1925. Joel also increased the organization's financial stability and prestige by bringing on board major philanthropists such as Michael Steinhardt, Edgar Bronfman, Sr., and Lynn Schusterman and Charles Schusterman. During his tenure, Hillel partnered with Birthright Israel, and launched the Steinhardt Jewish Campus Service Corps, a group of recent college graduates tasked with engaging unaffiliated Jews and drawing them to Judaism and Jewish events. Hillel also expanded to the former Soviet Union and South America.[3] Joel's tenure at Hillel has been criticized by some as providing stylish instead of substantive Judaism.[4] (See also: Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life#Criticism) However, Joel has also been credited for his "skilled management, magnetism, personal warmth" and "clarity of vision".[3] Joel is credited as the one who "transformed this movement (Hillel) and put Jewish renaissance at the forefront of the community's agenda", and his contributions to Hillel have been defined as "immeasurable" by its past and present leadership.[5]

Investigating abuse

During his tenure at Hillel, Joel served as the head of the special commission impaneled 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

File:President Joel at YU Commencement.ogv
President Joel at YU Commencement

Joel became president of YU in 2003, succeeding Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, who had been president since 1976. Since assuming the presidency, President Joel has appointed new deans for Yeshiva College, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Syms School of Business, and the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), added faculty positions throughout the university, and spurred wide-ranging improvements to campus life, including the construction of YU's newest building, the Jacob and Dreizel Glueck Center for Jewish Study, which opened in August 2009.

As president of RIETS, he has spearheaded efforts to reinvigorate professional education for rabbis, continuing education and rabbinic placement. President Joel often speaks of a Yeshiva University education as "ennobling and enabling" a generation of leadership. Additionally, President Joel has established various centers and programs including the university's centers for Ethics, Israel Studies, Public Health and the Jewish Future. He has also established a Presidential Fellowship program that provides training and professional development to recent graduates to further their path toward communal leadership.

His salary in 2009 was reported to be $853,651, the highest of seventy six national Jewish organizations surveyed by The Forward,[6] and also the twelfth highest for a university president.[7]

On the 15th of March, 2015, the University faculty voted "No Confidence" in Joel, especially targeting the University's financial troubles over the recent years. [8][9]

Personal life

Joel was born on September 9, 1950, and was raised in Yonkers, New York. He and his wife Esther (née Ribner), who holds a PhD from YU's Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, have six children all of whom have attended Yeshiva University schools. They currently reside in Riverdale, New York.[10] Richard Joel has also performed for the Maccabeats.


  1. "President Richard M. Joel Biography". Yeshiva University.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Biography of Richard M. Joel". Yeshiva University. Retrieved July 22, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Hillel Faces New Campus Challenge: A New President To Lead Its Mission". The Jewish Federations of North America. December 9, 2002. Retrieved July 22, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Jeremy Deutchman (March–April 1999). "Hillel Incorporated: The Franchising of Modern American Jewry". Tikkun. Archived from the original on January 24, 2003. Retrieved July 22, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Edgar M. Bronfman; Lynn Schusterman; Michael Steinhardt; Neil M. Moss (December 5, 2002). "Richard Joel Named Yeshiva University President". Hillel. Retrieved July 22, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Salaries of U.S. Jewish Communal Leaders". The Jewish Daily Forward. December 16, 2011. Retrieved July 22, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7.[dead link]
  8. "The Jewish Week | Connecting the World to Jewish News, Culture, and Opinion". The Jewish Week. Retrieved 2015-09-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "YU faculty vote no-confidence against head Richard Joel". Retrieved 2015-09-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. McNeil, Kate (January 3, 2008). "For Yeshiva's president, life can imitate television". The Riverdale Press. Retrieved May 3, 2008. Riverdale resident Richard Joel compares his job - president of Yeshiva University - to the presidency of the United States.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links