Boston Biz Journal: Hebrew College struggles continue


The Boston Business Journal is reporting that the Boston Hebrew College is still facing significant financial difficulties and is considering taking on a strategic business partner. (Hat Tip to Penny Schwartz)

From the BBJ:

“The college is not up for sale,” Hebrew College President Daniel Lehmann said in a telephone interview. But Lehmann acknowledged the Newton-based school may need outside financial help and is in various “strategic partner discussions.”

“We’re doing our best and making progress,” he said.

Founded in 1921 by the Bureau of Jewish Education, Hebrew College is in severe financial straits after operations lost $5.4 million on total revenue of $10.9 million in the fiscal year ending June 30. Like colleges and universities nationwide, the school took a hit to its endowment while receiving less support from foundations hurt by the U.S. economic crisis. The school’s net endowment assets declined 21 percent to $6.7 million in fiscal 2009.

This week, Lehman sent out the following fund-raising appeal, outlining some of its new programs and need:

December 10, 2009

Dear Friends,

A celebration of religious freedom and renewal, Hanukkah also marks a victory of the few over the many. Early in the revolt, however, the Maccabees realized that guerilla warfare alone could not defeat the Seleucids. Drawing on strategic partnerships, they built a disciplined army to subdue their common enemy. As rulers of the Hasmonean Kingdom that followed, they fostered pragmatic, diplomatic relations and built partnerships with other foreign powers to ensure their national sovereignty and security.

Mutually beneficial, strategic partnerships are a key to ensuring organizational health and success in these trying economic times. Hebrew College has weathered the past year through a combination of rigorous, responsible fiscal management and fruitful strategic partnerships with a variety of organizations that share our goal to provide outstanding, pluralistic Jewish education. Among them:

  • Our new joint doctoral degree program with Northeastern University, an EdD in Jewish Education Leadership is attracting enthusiastic applicants from around the world; we look forward to meeting our first doctoral students on campus this summer.

  •  We have partnered with CJP to restructure and strengthen adult and youth education programs in Greater Boston. Me’ah and Ikkarim (adult Jewish study for parents of young children) as well as the Yesod youth educators program are now directed by Hebrew College professionals, with financial support from CJP.

  •  We are collaborating with our good neighbors, Andover Newton Theological School, through the Center for Interreligious and Communal Leadership Education (CIRCLE), to nurture a new generation of moral and spiritual leaders equipped for service in a religiously diverse world. This work is funded by a generous grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.

  • Our partnership with the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem to prepare the next generation of day school educators for North America, now in its fourth year, has yielded our largest incoming class of students this fall.

  • Our partnership with BBYO, funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation, to prepare Jewish experiential educators as youth leaders and camp directors, draws top management students from Indiana University to study at Hebrew College.

In addition to these programmatic liaisons, we have built productive partnerships with our creditors to manage Hebrew College’s debt and to ensure a strong and vibrant future for our institution. This is an essential step in our ongoing efforts to provide a sound foundation for the College’s future growth.

Nonetheless, we continue to face significant short-term financial challenges. To that end, we are working diligently to increase enrollments, manage our budget and make fiscally responsible decisions. Meeting our annual fundraising goals remains essential. At the same time, we are committed to creating a model for long-term sustainability. As part of this process, we are exploring other strategic partnerships with leading academic institutions that could yield mutually beneficial synergies—both programmatic and financial. I will keep you apprised of any new and significant developments.

My best wishes for a joyful holiday season.


Rabbi Daniel L. Lehmann


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