Rabbi Dr. Herbert C. Dobrinsky, the Vice President for University Affairs at Yeshiva University, has given 60 years of his professional life to ensuring that YU remains the flagship academic and Jewish institution that it is.
To honor the contributions of this living legend, who has served under four of YU’s five presidents, the University has renamed its planned giving program, which Dr. Dobrinsky established in 1978, as the Rabbi Dr. Herbert C. Dobrinsky Legacy Society, where friends and supporters throughout the world can support the University in perpetuity through a variety of programs for legacy giving.
This is a fitting tribute to a man who, in many respects, is Yeshiva University personified. In 1962, he was invited to YU to assume a leadership position in the Community Service Division, and from then on, he achieved an unparalleled track record of success: raised over $200 million from donors for YU, established multiple endowed and professional chairs, developed new boards of overseers, pioneered fundraising efforts in Canada and set up numerous scholarship programs. These funds helped build a strong foundation for the Yeshiva University community, including bringing scholarships that benefitted students and bolstering the Sephardic studies program.
Dr. Dobrinsky is deeply committed to Sephardic studies and in 1964 he founded YU’s Sephardic Community Program and Sephardic Studies Program, along with Rabbi Dr. Samuel Belkin, a”h, The Hakham; Rabbi Dr. Solomon Gaon, a”h, the then Sephardic Chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth; and Ivan and Sophia Salomon, a”h. Dobrinsky’s contributions have helped YU become a center for the Sephardic community at large, with YU currently enrolling more than 400 Sephardic undergraduates. Over the last 50 years, YU also has ordained more than 100 Sephardic Rabbis at RIETS, helping to secure the next generation of spiritual leaders for the Sephardic community. Over the past two decades, Dr. Dobrinsky has mentored Rabbi Moshe Tessone to continue his legacy as the current head of the Sephardic Studies Program at YU.
Dr. Dobrinsky did his doctoral work at YU in Sephardic Studies, writing a seminal exploration of the laws and customs of the Syrian, Moroccan, Judeo-Spanish, and Spanish and Portuguese communities that was later published as A Treasury of Sephardic Laws and Customs. Containing a helpful “Teacher’s Guide,” this text was used in Jewish studies programs in Israel and around the world, including at YU and Rutgers.
He also played a major role in establishing Camp Morasha, a much beloved institution in Modern Orthodox communities where students enjoyed sports, outdoor activities and Torah study during summer.
Dr. Dobrinksy has received many awards and distinctions, including the Harav Yosef Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik zt”l Aluf HaTorah Award at the RIETS Chag HaSemikha Convocation in 2010 and the YU Presidential Medallion in 2015 at Yeshiva University’s Annual Hanukkah Dinner.
He began his association with YU as one of its most prolific students: Yeshiva University High School for Boys (1950), Yeshiva College (1954), the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) (1957) and Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, where he earned a master’s degree in 1959 and an Ed.D. in 1980.
When asked how he was able to achieve so much, Rabbi Dr. Dobrinsky replied that underpinning it all was “the love and joy I derive from my partners in life: my beloved wife of 67 years, Dina Loebenberg Dobrinsky, z”l, who was a respected biochemist working for Pfizer for many years and a senior computer programmer; and our wonderful children: Dr. Deborah and Rabbi Dr. Michael Kramer, Tova and Lawrence Cohen, and Aaron David and Dr. Cindy Dobrinsky; and my many wonderful grandchildren and great-grandchildren; as well as my sister Sharon (and Louis) Goelman, and their children, and our entire extended family.”
Rabbi Dr. Dobrinsky’s example continues to inspire YU as it launches its Rise Up: The Campaign for 613, an ambitious effort to raise $613 million over five years to support student scholarships, strengthen facilities and promote faculty programs, thus positioning Yeshiva University for continued success well into the future.