- 75 years old
- Date of birth: Jun 7, 1941
- Place of birth:
Chicago, Illinois, United States
- Date of passing: Sep 11, 2016
- Place of passing:
|A leader's job is not to do the work for others. It's to help others figure out how to do it themselves, to get things done, and to succeed beyond what they thought possible. -Simon Sinek|
This memorial website was created in memory of Dr. Norm Adler, who passed away in Jerusalem on September 11, 2016. A warm, engaging educator, fascinated by the world and the people in it, never ceasing to explore and revel in the magic he saw around him. He shared his knowledge with and changed the lives of thousands of students, and loved each member of his family in a unique way, recognizing what made us each special, different, challenging, and... cherished.
A video of the Eulogies at the funeral can be found here:
and the text of Tahg's and Alex's remarks can also be found in the His Life tab, above.
To make a contribution to the Norman Adler Memorial Fund to support the Honors Program he created and loved and nurtured at Yeshiva University, click here: http://blogs.yu.edu/news/in-memoriam-dr-norman-adler/
(the actual donation link is located at the bottom of the post)
To make a contribution in Norm's memory to benefit the Biological Basis of Behavior program at the University of Pennsylvania, click here: http://givingpages.upenn.edu/DrNormTAdler/106728194
To make a contribution in Norm's memory to Jerusalem's Shaarei Tzedek Hospital where Norm was lovingly treated, click here: https://www.acsz.org/drnormtadler/
To join us and sign up in learning Mishnayot in Norm's memory between now and the end of Shloshim (9 Tishrei, October 11th, 2016), click here: http://www.lzechernishmas.com/signup.php?id=5566
"I was so privileged to be Papa's son-in-law, and also to still be the husband of his wonderful daughter, Tanya Aviv, and I have been very sad to see him go. I look at the recent pictures that Tanya has taken with him, as well as those on his website, and it is so hard to believe that just like that, with seemed like a speedy process, the Almighty has taken him from this world. It was only a few weeks ago that these pictures show us that he was not only alive, but well enough to be out and about.
Papa was an extraordinary human being, and both academically smart, but had lots of wisdom for life. He truly treated me like a son. He always tried to make me feel comfortable, to do what was important to me, treated me with love and respect, and to include me with the rest of his large family both officially by having me there, but also setting aside time to spend with me. He was empathetic to my life challenges, which I was comfortable sharing many with him. He also rebuked me when I erred in behavior in a loving way when it was appropriate. He took out time to learn Torah with me - whatever I was learning, he would join up with me. While that is difficult to receive in the moment, it is so much better than a person withdrawing from you and refusing to associate with you in the long run. And when people can withstand giving and receiving rebuke from each other, it is a sign of the closeness they have for each other, and ultimately brings more closeness if the rebuke is done from a place of love and caring.
Papa made special efforts to travel to be with us,both when we lived in the US, and even after we moved to Israel. These required him to take long, exhausting plane trips to see us, and maybe even sleep in quarters that were a bit cramped for a person of his stature, to say the least. This was even more true after we made aliyah to Israel than in Los Angeles. The trips he took to see us were sometimes also challenging because he had other family or business trips right before or right after.
I still remember that he came to our Shabbos Sheva Brachos after we got married as well as to visit us shortly after the birth of my Idit Noa, both times with Sheila, and it meant so much to us. Not to mention how much it meant to us that Papa and Sheila were at Ben Gurion Airport to greet us when we landed after making Aliyah along with rest of NBN festivities. He came several times to spend Succos with us, and came to our Pesach seder this year - the last one of his life (little did we know). When we was around during these and other times, he knew how to get along with everyone and make everyone feel special.
I know that a lot of his interests were naturally directed toward things different form my own natural interests, and our personalities were somewhat different. However, Papa knew how to relate to me according to my personality and interest. He would speak with caring and intelligently to me about classical music, but including the classical saxophone music that I am interest, uniquely in my family, about both technical and non-technical aspects about my work, my side of the family, among other things, and most important of all to me, he would speak about both of our outlooks on Torah and Judasim.
Everything I said, I personally witnessed in his character in how he treated my wife, his daughter, Tanya Aviv, and his grandchildren. He was zocheh to five children - five very different children. And from what I saw, he knew what was appropriate to give for each of those children, and how to treat them. The same for each of their children
I always wanted him to spend more time with us when we were together. But besides taking family and relatives seriously, he also took work seriously. This included the chessed required for him to help his students get grants or other assistance they needed to get to their next place in their practical lives. He understood this need, and did what needed to be done.
While I am sorry that at the end of his life, his illness caused his deterioration very quickly, I feel very fortunate that it happened right here in Israel. I got to spend at least some of his last moments alive with Papa, and my wife got to spend even more time, without disrupting our nuclear family excessively.
I am very proud that Papa, Dr. Norman Adler, נחום בן אברהם חיים, ז"ל, was my father-in-law, my wife's father, and my children's Zaide.
Papa's memory should always be for brachah, and his neshamah should be zocheh to many aliyos in shamayim."
"There is little I can add to the meaningful, deeply felt, fully accurate words of apprecaition that others have expressed for Norm on this site, especially as those words include the sentiments of folks who have been my psychology heros for over 40 years. I have lost a cherished friend, a genuine soul mate, a brother in spirit (unfortunately despite our shared last name that over the years created quite a bit of confusion, not literally), and a co-grandfather of our best beloved Maya, Amitai, and Ayelet. We have a gap in our lives but a gap partly bridged with memories and an appreciation of of his impact on thousands.
The love you take is exceeded by the love you made,
"Early this morning, former Yeshiva College dean Dr. Norman Adler passed away in Yerushalayim. My experiences with him were examples of the ideals this group so often discusses and debates. Dean Adler's impact on me, as well as all the students at Yeshiva during his tenure as dean, remain a powerful component of my perspective and especially my teaching philosophy.
I won't attempt to describe his academic or scholarly career because it was outside of those roles that he had the greatest impact on my life and the lives of my fellow students. Nowhere else on the YC campus was there a more tireless advocate for student rights, student advancement, and student achievement. If there was an initiative that encouraged creativity, activism, or ingenuity (especially in the areas of the arts or technology), you can be sure Dean Adler was there. While perhaps the real-life paradigm of the absent-minded professor, Dean Adler nevertheless recalled every conversation and tidbit and cared for the development and progress of every student, even those long graduated.
But the most important aspect of Dean Adler's personality for the purposes of this group was his view of Torah U'Madda. That phrase wasn't in much use on the YC campus when I was a student, as few knew what to make of it or how it could inform our education. It was Dean Adler who relished what he called the "healthy tension" brought on by philosophical and even halachic conflicts between Torah and the many secular pursuits studied at Yeshiva. He was ecstatic that students struggled with explicit content in art classes or racist composers in music classes. The conflicts, he believed, inspired the students to think more seriously, to make moral choices for themselves that a sheltered intellectual existence prevents. The true meaning of Torah U'Madda, to his thinking, was in the conflict, not in the elimination of the conflict. Every confrontation brought one's observance closer to the fullness of God's Creation.
Dean Adler's academic and religious life were a whirlwind of accomplishment and challenge, as he reached the heights of scholarly achievement, then turned his life upside down to become a fully committed, religious Jew - and an example to anyone who thought such things were impossible. May his memory be a blessing to every teacher of any subject who forces hard questions on students, who pushes for complexity and deep thought, and who is never satisfied with the easy answer."
"Memorial blog link that YU posted about my father:
"Norman Adler's brilliance and kindness shone through in any gathering, in any conversation. His deep love and understanding of Torah and of the issues of present day Judaism made him a jewel in the crown of our people. He will be sorely missed.
May you, Sheila, and the entire family, be comforted, B'toch she'ar evelei Tzion Verushalayim"
"When I count my blessings, I count Norm. Originally my boss, he continued to mentor me throughout the years. I never doubted that he had my best interests at heart and relied on him for guidance, support, and a sense of perspective. I will always remember him as a great conversationalist—with far-reaching topics (faith and science a favorite), real intellectual passion (was he ever without a book?), and a wry sense of humor (Passover at the Biltmore as “Brigadoon”). His ability to connect with people of all ages, including my children, was equaled only by his ability to play matchmaker, bringing his friends together in order to foster new friendships. Thus so many of his friends became my friends.
May his memory be a blessing.
"I had the pleasure of associating with Dr. Adler z'l on several projects at Yeshiva College. He was a true gentleman and always knowledgeable on any subject matter he discussed.
As a member of the YC Board we worked on the film festival. I remember the dinner we had for the Israeli director Joseph Cedar who has just been in the news for his new film. Dr Adler was the perfect host and organizer.
It was a delight to know him and his pleasant disposition radiated in anything he did.
Hamakom Yenachem ..... Stanley Raskas"
"I had the enormous honor of working with Dr. Adler as he offered his tremendous support to the Yeshiva College Dramatic Society productions, which I have directed since 2006. His generosity toward and enthusiasm for YCDS never wavered and I will miss tremendously being in meetings with him and various administrators and potential donors where he would never let them off the hook in terms of supporting the arts at YU and seeing his smiling face in the audience. I feel very blessed to be able to say he was my friend,."
"Dear Sheila and distinguished family:
Lorelle and I join the legions of others bereft at Norman's passing.
It was a privilege, an honor and an outstanding learning experience to have known him.
He was a wonderful friend, an outstanding scholar and an administrator of uncommon creativity.
May you, each of you, be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Jacob Jay Lindenthal"
"I have many fond memories of Norm: first at Harvard, where I was the TA for his first Psychology course, to Berkeley when he was a graduate student in the same lab where I was a post-doc and we published an article together, and then decades later, at Penn when we would meet whenever he attended the annual lecture named in his honor. Over all this time our interests and passions migrated to religious themes, appropriate I suppose for old men. But what I cherish more than anything are memories of his irrepressible sense of humor, so frequently laced with a deep appreciation of life's ironies.gb"
"Norman Adler,Z”L had a blazing intellect and a great Jewish soul. He was a modest and kind person, and a cherished friend..
May his memory be a blessing.
Mierle and Jack Ukeles"
"Baruch Dayan Emet for dear dear Norman. Sad and shocking to loose such a special, amazing, wonderful friend. As we digest this very very sad news we both think of the great intelligence and astounding ideas he brought into our lives. What a guy!! And what engaging Shabbat meals he inspired! We’ve never known anyone with such unique thoughts and insights and such wide ranging interests that he tied together in intricate and fascinating ways! Norman’s twinkle and smile would infuse his most intricate thoughts with charm and polish, and bing! he could lead us to greater understanding of how he accomplished his reasoning, and how we could join in comprehending his far reaching thinking. Was there anything, whatsoever in the world that didn’t engage Norman's interest??? And his warmth, kindness, thoughtfulness and cheerfulness made its way into all our hearts. He was a mensch and an intellect. We shall miss him dearly. Our love to Sheila and all the family. Harriet and Harvey"
"From a childhood friend, Richard Garfield:
It is certainly an odd development that I have got back in touch with you at this sad time. I hope we can find a time to reconnect shortly but for now I want to share my condolences.
As someone who has a pretty a specific window of memory regarding your father, I was able to relate to many of your remarks at the funeral. I was transported back to Ardmore PA in the 1980’s, both at your first large house and then the smaller one with the apartment downstairs. I recall that small hatchback car your father had - was it light blue?
More importantly, I remember his total love for you and your siblings, his creative spirit that encouraged us kids to be creative as well. Do you remember the time we turned your house into a "hotel" and served him some food we had prepared? Oh and then the meat sauce - he was an expert at making the best meat sauces (I have not had meat sauce in years) and was excited about the whole cooking process. I also remember his love of music and of just silly …very silly…jokes. Additionally, and I mean this as a fantastic compliment, as I reflect back, he did not come across as the brain powerhouse he clearly was. He was not aloof, brainy or judgmental. He was simply loving, fun and supportive. Seeing the pictures of you and your family now I am so sure you are that way as a husband and father and in that way, his memory and impact will never end.
Hamakim Yinachem Eschem Besoch Shar Avayla Zion VeYerushliam. I miss you man! Where has the time gone?
"I had the privilege of working for Dr. Adler during my last year in Yeshiva College. In addition to being a Supervisor, he also took the time to mentor me in certain skills that assisted me during my internship in Washington, D.C. and in law school.
Beyond that, when my family went through a medical crisis during my last semester of college, Dean Adler was there to support my family while helping me focus on my studies allowing me to finish and graduate with my class.
May his memory be remembered for a blessing."
"Norm was the Dean of Yeshiva College during my time at YU, and was a mentor and friend during tough times, including right after 9/11/2001. I owe much of my perspective on Judaism, Psychology and Religion, and the intricacies of academic life to Dean Adler, and will be forever grateful.
He once said that he grew up among the Jewish Mafia in Chicago, and that no other experience better prepared him for life in academic administration. I'll say now, what I said then: "Ok Norm."
Thanks, for everything."
"Message from Paul Rozin, my father's adviser at Harvard (before working with him as a colleague at Penn), below:
I am sad to convey to you that Norman Adler, a former colleague in our department, passed away in Israel yesterday. Norm was my first student, as an undergraduate at Harvard, while I was a graduate student there. He went to Berkeley to study sexual behavior and endocrinology in animals. He came to Penn after a one year postdoc at UCLA, as an Assistant Professor in what we used to call physiological psychology. Norm rose rapidly through the ranks, and became an eminent scholar in his area. He was one of four young outstanding faculty, almost exactly the same age, who went through the ranks together, and became the younger core of the psychology department in the 1970s and 1980s. The other three, fortunately still with us, are Randy Gallistel, Rochel Gelman, and Marty Seligman. Norm became undergraduate Dean of SAS at Penn, and founded the now flourishing Biological Basis of Behavior Major. He left Penn to become a Vice Provost at Northeastern University, and then the Dean at Yeshiva University. He stepped down from that position some years ago, and was a University Professor at Yeshiva. Norm's breadth of scholarship and understanding, and his intellectual vigor, were an important part of what made this department a special place in the 1970s and 1980s.
"I can easily say that I have never met anyone whose knowledge was as broad as Norman’s, yet never thought he knew enough. The same goes for his teaching; he taught so many, but still had so much to give to those he had yet to meet. This unquenchable thirst was apparent in both his academic and Jewish worlds --- whether in scientific work, U of P and the 4-year college organizations, YU and other Jewish organizations, and in his own Torah study. When one considers the personal road he travelled (he spoke of some of it to me through the years) to achieve all that he did, it simply staggers the imagination.
Add to that his love of, and consideration for, other people. We were all so fortunate to have met, and were friends with, him. Hopefully, the emptiness of his absence is tempered with knowledge of the legacy he left behind in all those with whom he interacted --- especially all the students he trained, inspired, and, most of all, loved.
יהי זכרו ברוך"
"Email from the Director of the Biological Basis of Behavior Program at the University of Pennsylvania:
Dear Mr. Adler,
My sincere condolences to the passing of your father. Although I never really had the opportunity to spend much time with him, I did get a chance to meet your father at one of the symposium talks he attended many years ago. As the founder of our BBB program he obviously was able to capture the excitement of the field in the 70s and turn it into the first neuroscience major before such a thing was trendy. As you know the major is as popular as it has ever been and we now often graduate as many seniors now as the psychology (slightly more) and biology (slightly less) departments. AS a teacher and a behavioral neuroscientist myself, I have always had the utmost respect for your dad and his passing is a huge loss.
Marc F. Schmidt, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology (http://www.bio.upenn.edu/faculty/schmidt/marc)
Director, Biological Basis of Behavior Program (http://www.sas.upenn.edu/bbb/)
University of Pennsylvania"
"To his wife Sheila Stein and the children of Dr. Norman Adler z"l:
I was terribly saddened to find out about the petira of Dr. Norman Adler of blessed memory. He was a sweetheart of a person, who always exhibited kindness towards others and a genuine passion to help people develop their minds and their talents. I remember how excited he was about scheduling interdisciplinary shiurim at YU, in which his students could learn about subjects such as the intersection between neuropsychology and Jewish law. He was an intellectual entrepreneur who ventured gently and respectfully into the cutting-edge frontiers of Torah U'Mada. Above all, I will remember our many conversations, both at Yeshiva and in Riverdale, in which he always displayed a pious devotion to HKB"H together with an awe and appreciation for the mysteries of His universe.
המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים
"My deepest sympathies to Tahg and the entire family of Dr. Norman Adler. As the president of the Yeshiva College Student Council in 94-95, I was privileged to interview Dr. Adler for his position as dean and serve with him during his first year on campus at YU. Dr. Adler brought with him years of experience, a love for the students, and a desire to help YU grow academically. Through programs he implemented and his leadership, Dr. Adler helped the students reach their potential and mature into good men and future leaders. May his memory be for a blessing and may his family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem."
"I am so deeply saddened by the loss of Dr. Adler. I was a student at Yeshiva College during his tenure as Dean, and although I never had the fortune of taking a course of his, he still treated me like one of his students, and I saw him as a teacher and guide.
He was a soaring intellectual, but never in an off-putting way. He was personable, humble, funny, and curious - the perfect choice as Dean because of how he personified Torah uMadda, and how he cared for every student.
I remember how touched I felt when he took time after my graduation to send me a personal note of congratulations (as if he didn't have a million other matters to tend). He had a greatness of mind and a generosity of spirit. I'll miss him tremendously."
"Dr. Norman Adler z"l was a gentleman, an intellectual, an expert in many fields, and a kind friend.
Our final memory will be of sharing an evening this summer at Beit Agnon where we heard Jeff Saks speak and lead a panel discussion. The evening reflected Dean Adler's love of culture and all things Jewish. יהי זכרו ברוך
Yosef and Rivkah Blau"
"Sincere sympathy on the passing of this unique man, Jew and scholar..It was a privilege to communicate with him."
I was first introduced to Noman when he was a candidate for the deanship of Yeshiva College. He came to the interview prepared. He knew the names and the bios of every member of the Search Committee and had something personal and relevant to say to each of us. And I wondered, “Is he for real?”
Over time I learned that he was definitely for real. He had a genuine interest in people and a far reaching intellect that enabled him to engage in almost any subject. Moreover I discovered just how much the ”idea” of Yeshiva University meant to him and how much he truly loved our students who live that idea. Norman was genuine , unique, and brilliant. Creative ideas flowed from him without effort, and his enthusiasm for trying new academic ventures, even daring ones , was stunning. Most of all, he was so very sensitive, caring and loving of students, of colleagues and of his family of whom he was so proud. Norman was sentimental . He did not forget those who should not be forgotten, and we will not forget him."
"Dear Sheila, daughters, sons, grand children, etc., I have known Norm since the 60's when a group of us at UCLA and Berkeley got together a lot, especially for Seders. Luck landed us, along with my husband-to-be, Randy Gallistel at Penn as Assistant Profs, and we have moved through our lives without losing track. Norm was an incredible scholar, scientist, and human being. One vignette. He, Randy and I were our for a walk, and passed a beggar. Norm pulled out a coin and gave it to him. This repeated several times. My best lesson about the meaning of Tzdaka."
Edith and I were greatly saddened by the news of Norm's passing. He was a true intellectual, a wonderful neighbor and a very caring friend. One was able to discuss with him so many varied topics ranging from science to Torah to history to philosophy. That alone was a rare privilege. But far more important, he was a true mentsch always ready to help someone, lend a listening ear, offer a word of encouragement, and when we disagreed it was always with the sensitivity and decency which were his trademarks.
I was always amazed at how well Norm knew YC's undergraduates. I had dealt with numerous deans over many years. Generally they knew well only student leaders and problem students.Norm was different: Every student I spoke to him about after encountering them in one or another corner of the Jewish community, he seemed to know well and understand the arc of their careers and activities. He took an active interest in every student and was deeply concerned about the quality of their education. In the course I taught one semester, he went so far as to handpick those students he believed would profit most. In the end, it was the faculty member he had recruited to teach who profited the most.
Sheila, Edith and I wish to extend to you our sincere condolences and nehumim to you and your wonderful family. We will miss Norm terribly, but his legacy will be a permanent reminder of a good neighbor, wise counselor, brilliant instructor, and, above all, a terrific human being.
Edith and Steven Bayme
He took an active interest"
"Norm Adler was a wonderful biopsychologists, a wonderful teacher, a wonderful colleague and a treasured friend. My years with him at the University of Pennsylvania, where Norm, Paul Rozin, Phil Teitelbaum and I taught behavioral neuroscience and psychobiology together and in various combinations were among the most enjoyable and intellectually profitable years in my life as a scientist. His passing leaves a hole in my heart."
"I was utterly heartbroken to learn of Norm's passing. Norm was a devoted mentor to the psychology faculty and he used to refer to us as his "kids". He was like a father figure to us and I felt like Norm had my back and I could go to him for advice, support, and often I just wanted to hear one of his great stories. Norm was an intellectual powerhouse and his ability to converse on a wide array of topics with knowledge and insight was an inspiration. We love you Norm and will miss you dearly."
"I am heartbroken at the loss of a friend, mentor and original spirit that has left us. The fact that a quote from Walt Whitman is on this memorial website is fitting since Norman was many things, he was large and contained multitudes. My favorite memory was walking with Norman in Jerusalem, on a YU trip, smoking a Cuban cigar and talking about Whitman and what is particular and revelatory about American thought. Norman was a true intellectual: He loved ideas and would always bounce happily from idea to idea as he talked. Imagine how much more he danced when enjoying a very good cigar.
A quick story since there is probably too much to say: When I started at YU I worked for Dean Adler. He warned me that the course schedule prep would be something everyone would judge me on. I remember staying late for many nights, trying to decode the intricacy of the Yeshiva College schedule which existed only four days a week and between the hours of 3pm and 8pm. It was tough to get a handle on this. Norman had designed a special database to do the preliminary input of the schedule. I didn't know much about the database (Access) so I proceeded to destroy much of the information that made the schedule rational. Norman came in the next day, discovered my terrible mistake, and proceeded to stay until midnight, fixing my work. He never said a negative word to me. That wasn't Norman. The schedule would be fine and no one would ever know how he helped me save face.
Norman had a true heart of gold. We lost a great man, one of Whitman's brightest children."
"When Norman Adler resigned as Dean of Yeshiva College, I told him his years at the helm had been good for me and good for the College. He was himself an intellectually adventurous person across a broad range of disciplines. Within psychology, his “official” field, he had made his reputation as a “hard science” laboratory based investigator. At the same time, he was extraordinarily devoted to teaching psychology in its relationship to the humanities. Throughout his years as Dean, he regularly taught a wide-ranging course on psychology and religion, at which I was a sometime guest; the one year he couldn’t do it, he made sure that Maury Silver, a philosophically attuned social scientist he had recruited for Yeshiva, and I team-taught in his place.
Norm presided over the establishment of the YC Honors program, whose importance has become increasingly central in the last few years. But he separately championed a broad range of extracurricular activities, for example the Arts Festival that provided students with a forum for creativity that otherwise would not have existed, and he made sure, by recruiting R. Blau and me, that the Arts Festival had a Torah component. As Dean it seemed he could never say no to an opportunity for intellectual enhancement, whether for a student or a colleague or the College.
In the years after his Deanship, Norm devoted much of his energy to exploring fellowships for our students. As earlier, he put out for individual students. Much of the alumni response to his death reflects like a mirror his loyalty to them.
When I think of Norm Adler, one recalls a man who often seemed overstretched among his different old/new obligations and interests. It seems almost paradoxical that he could be so attentive, in such a timely manner, to individuals. I can think of quite a few acts of kindness to colleagues, when it was Norm who perceived needs that others didn’t immediately notice, who knew how to reach out to the people affected and to mobilize the people who could help.
I will miss him.
May his memory be a blessing."
"Dear Sheila and family,
I can't tell you how sad I was to hear that Norman had passed. I will always and forever remember his playfulness and creativity...as well as his courage in hiring as his colleague a Catholic female partner in the Dean's Office at Yeshiva College. He was a generous, dear man and he will be sorely missed. My profound condolences, Joyce"
"Dr. Adler was such a special man. He will be missed. I majored in psych in YU. I had a very hard tie going through the program but Dr. Adler literally helped me through it from start to finish. We spent a ton of time together, eating at golan, walking in the library and showing me books in his office. the man was truly one of a kind. He was unlike any teacher I ever had. A sincere, sweet, understanding and unbelievably nice person. I will miss him dearly.
"Norm believed in me more than I believed in myself and I will never forget him. So many thoughts and memories but I'll start with the last time I saw Dr Adler. I would always instinctively call him Dr Adler but after I graduated he would insist I call him Norm... Anyway, we had been in close touch for a few years after I graduated YU, but I hadn't spoken to him in about a year. I bumped into him on the YU campus one evening this past spring, but before I had much of a chance to catch up with him, he said "great to see you Uri, I organized a Sefardic music concert and it is taking place in 10 minutes in Belfer Hall. I'm worried there won't be enough attendees, could you please come?" I had other things to do and I wasn't really in the mood for Sefardic music, but I did it for Norm. I sat next to him and we chatted for a while before the concert started. It ended up being a beautiful and enriching event. I could tell that planning this event had caused him some stress and as usual he probably had to send a number of "colorful" emails to get funding and make it happen, but the whole situation was so classic Dr Adler, and I had a lot of fun catching up with him and seeing his satisfaction that the event was a success and even attracted a decent sized audience."
"I truly believe people are brought into this world to do amazing things and my Uncle was the finest example. I will miss him more then words can express and my heart goes out to our entire family."
"Nietzsche once quipped that all of the interesting people are missing from heaven. Nietzsche had clearly never met Norman Adler. Adler was a true tzadik, talmid chacham, exuberant humanist, master of email haikus, lover of Indian dance music and Japanese flower arrangements. And to me, he was the closest teacher I ever had, a mentor and friend who guided me through every step of life, ever since I met him ten years ago.
I first came to know Adler when I was sixteen, during my first semester at YU. Adler taught a seminar in Psychology and Religion. He was the first role model I encountered who showed me that I could love Judaism and at the same time explore science, philosophy, literature, art, music, and the Big Questions with an open mind. If that sounds trivial to you, you were probably never an impressionable first-year in the Beit Midrash at YU.
Adler set me off on the path that has been my life for the past ten years. He helped me develop a love for neuroscience and philosophy, passions I would continue throughout college and in graduate school. Together we started the Yeshiva College Neuroscience Society. At a time when hardly anyone was talking about neuroscience at YU, Adler had a vision for where YU needed to be to more toward the future. Through YCNS, I became very close with Norman Adler during my time at YU. Hardly a day would go by when we wouldn’t exchange emails, texts, memes.
Norman Adler was a fighter. Almost any time I would speak with him, he would tell me about the battles he was waging with the Powers that Be. We need to hire more neuroscience professors. More funding for the Honors program events and arts and the drama program. How can we get students more involved in science research? Please, please don’t cut the drama program. Adler’s vision for YU was by no means one that he shared with all of his colleagues. He showed us, though, not to be afraid to fight for what we believed in. Yet while Adler fought and fought, he loved and was beloved by all. In a university rife with polarization, he was the one who could talk with Rav Schachter in the morning and the art history professor in the afternoon and bring them together over dinner.
Adler fought most of all for his students. He would sign off his emails to me “GF” - Godfather. He would do anything for us. He once emailed me about a close student of his who he was trying to get into grad school. At the bottom of the email he pasted a horse head. He would do whatever it took. Adler wanted us all to know that when push came to shove, he believed in us and would be there for us.
And he was there for me. Adler fought for me countless times. When I wanted to take neuroscience classes that YU didn’t offer, Adler helped arrange for me to take them elsewhere. When I began to feel that YU was not the right college for me, Adler spent countless hours speaking with me and connecting me with his long-time friends to help me find a college I was a better fit for. After I graduated, I had an important interview coming up, and Adler did round after round of practice interviews with me. I once had to prepare for a panel interview, and Adler moved mountains to get five professors in a room to practice with me. He always gave me honest criticism with his left hand and unwavering friendship with his right.
I wanted to share with others the love for interdisciplinary conversation between the sciences and the humanities that Adler had instilled in me. In my junior year, I started a journal, Flourish, bringing together fifteen articles from psychology, literature, philosophy, neuroscience, and the arts into dialogue about questions of human flourishing. I dedicated the first issue of Flourish to Adler four years ago, and the journal still continues publishing issues and running events today.
I will never forget the time we spent in his favorite cafe in Emek Refaim, when he seemed far more concerned about the future of the YU Honors program and whether neuroethics could ever be a science than his increasingly dire medical problems. There was always one question he never bored of discussing: If one neuron can make the difference between action and inaction, could the firing of one neuron save a life? Determine the fate of Modern Orthodoxy? The Jewish people?
Adler knew that even if his body passed away, his ethos and his vision would live on through the countless students he influenced. Chazal say that Tzadikim do not die. Long after his final zany email, his legacy lasts eternal, passed on through ever-continuing influences of students and students of students. Like waves of neurons, inspired by their energetic predecessors, firing and flowing and cascading on and on, influencing many neurons down the line, far after the first neuron beats silent. Yehi Zichro Baruch."
"Dear Sheila and Family,
It is so difficult for all of us to come to terms with the sense of utter sorrow and bereavement which we are experiencing upon learning of the sudden passing of a beloved friend, colleague and mentor. Our hearts go out to you upon your tragic loss.
Norman was bigger than life - a brilliant scholar who encompassed worlds of different ideas and intuitively grasped the interconnectedness of disciplines, who both intellectuality and emotionally understood the greatness of our humanity as well as the frailties of the human condition. He was passionate about what each and every individual could achieve in a lifetime and how great is the impact we have upon each other. To him, life was always wondrous! He led by example, never preaching but always teaching. His teaching was never frontal – he challenged, coaxed, and cajoled his students and colleagues to reach for more insightful understanding and for a keener, yet more sympathetic appreciation. He was always willing to listen and to learn from friends, colleagues and students.
Norman was devoted to the academy and all it represented. In his lifetime, he contributed so much to the intellectual environments of both the Penn and Yeshiva campuses as Dean of both colleges. But he was even more devoted to the members of the academy – his students and his colleagues. He cared deeply about them and spent hours of energy and thought on how he could best be of help to others. He influenced the careers of generations of students and colleagues, allowing them to pursue opportunities which would help them to successfully attain their desired goals and more importantly to help them grow as caring members of society. His concern and kindness knew no bounds.
I would like to think that he thoroughly enjoyed in a very special way the unique environment of Yeshiva University. It afforded him not only intellectual and spiritual growth but also the opportunity to teach meaningful courses, bringing together all of his passions – his love of scientific pursuits, the arts and humanities, religion and psychology. His heart, soul and intellect reflected the ideals of Yeshiva, keenly aware of the many challenges of such ideals which he lovingly embraced. He also loved his students at YU and worked selflessly on their behalf. He delighted in being “the Godfather “ and working closely with them. And of course, he delighted in the collegiality of the diverse faculty of YU who were his close friends and fellow travelers in his intellectual and spiritual journey. We delighted in him and he delighted in us. Woe to us for those who perish and cannot be replaced!
I pray that you will find some solace in the knowledge that Norman has touch the lives of so many people and that he will be remembered by all who knew him. Min ha-shamayim tennuchamu ."
"Norm was a warm friend.There were different phases to our relationship.As fellow deans we had a multifacted interaction-a love of discussing ideas,a propensity for bickering about educational policy and approach,and a deep interest in human psychology.The bickering part was rough at times,albeit profoundly absurd.The funny(and wonderful)thing was,that after each battle over nothing of importance(a reason we laughed later!)we nonetheless continued our intellectual and personal contacts.And,they were fun and warmhearted.That outcome was a product of Norm's intrinsic decency and loving nature.
When I stepped down from the administration Norm and I always kept up when we saw one another and each time we talked I never hesitated to learn from him. After I chose to move on from YU our mutual interest in neurobiology and research made it fun to hang around our neighborhood gym after the workout.I always knew I could ask Norm a question about my current research interests and that he'd always have a wise insight or contribution.
Norm left a lovely and sweet family and I'd like to send them my deepest condolences.I was deeply saddened to learn that Norm passed.He was a wonderful and talented scholar,teacher and thinker.Most importantly he was kind. It was an honor to know him.Norm will be in my thoughts and prayers.
"A true teacher and friend. I always looked to him for advice.
Steve Lazar, Executive Dean, Sackler School of Medicine
Formed Assistant Dean, Albert Einstein College of Medicine."
"A true teacher and friend. I always looked to him for advice.
Steve Lazar, Executive Dean, Sackler School of Medicine
Formed Assistant Dean, Albert Einstein College of Medicine."
"To Sheila Stein, grandchildren and all beloved ones of the late revered Dr. Norman Adler, Z’l
My wife Dina and I, are profoundly shocked and saddened by the news of the petira of our cherished friend and colleague Dr. Norman Adler, Z”l who will be sorely missed by all his admiring colleagues at YU, his grateful students and his many cherished co-worshippers at the Riverdale Jewish Center. We were all privileged to have such a brilliant, creative and caring Dean of Yeshiva College for nine years and a University Professor of Psychology whose impact on the institution was enriched by his vision, creative thinking, passion for the arts and his desire to ameliorate the quality of education through his creative initiatives. His stress on academic excellence inspired our first Rhodes, Fulbright and Goldwater Fellowships which caused our students to aspire to the highest realms in their respective majors and to gain entry to the top graduate schools of our country including YU’s own graduate schools, as well. He was a Master of Interdisciplinary Education, bringing his multifaceted expertise in the sciences and psychology together in an exciting panorama that made sense. His quest to become an erudite scholar in areas of Jewish studies also distinguished him as a Ben Torah, who revered Bnei torah among his colleagues. He will be sorely missed by all of us who can benefit from his advocacy in the Academy on High before the Divine Dean on Yom Hadin whose wisdom is beyond our ability to fathom, as Dr. Norman Adler pleads our causes. May his entire vast loving relatives and all of us his friends and colleagues find comfort among all who mourn for Zion and Jerusalem. Dr. Herbert C. Dobrinsky, VP for University Affairs, Yeshiva University"
"I am terribly saddened to hear about the passing of Norman Adler. I have known him from the time he started as Dean of Yeshiva College. He has always impressed me with his ability to engage in lengthy, interesting, and informative conversations on a wide range of topics -- ranging from neuropsychology to Indian culture, Indian classical music, and Hinduism. He asked intriguing questions at every lecture thereby enhancing the learning experience of everyone present. He was instrumental in encouraging me to apply for a Fulbright Specialist fellowship to Israel, and mentored me with the application process and my trip to Israel. He made sure that I had an excellent experience and even found the time to meet with me while I was in Israel.
He always had new ideas and wanted to accomplish so much. He was great at bringing people together to exchange ideas, develop new courses or initiate new programs. I know he worked tirelessly each year to make the "Arts Festival" a success. He never ceased to amaze me with his level of enthusiasm and his thirst for learning new things.
He always greeted me with the traditional Indian "Namaste" whether he met me in the corridors of Yeshiva College or while waiting for his car service by the Belfer building. He was a great mentor and a true friend. I will surely miss his presence.
May his family have the much needed emotional strength to get over this very difficult time in their lives.
I am so saddened to hear that we have all lost Norm.
Within weeks of his arrival at YU, Norm and I discovered our mutual connection not only to Chicago and South Shore—but to the very block on which he and his family grew up in the 1950s with my cousins. That was a connection that we both cherished as the years between the present and that shared past widened.
Like so many of my colleagues and our students, I was happily drawn into the atmosphere of unending curiosity that surrounded Norm and that he kept alive at Yeshiva College in so many ways. We worked closely together on projects that he initiated—particularly the YC Book Project and the Author-in-Residence program—and he provided kind and savvy counsel to me when I followed him as an administrator. I was invigorated by Norm’s joyful appetite for ideas, and by the ways in which Norm served as a kind of intellectual shadchen: putting together people who shared interests; who were thinking about the same things (or whom he thought should be!); who might benefit from talking to one another. Like so many others, I was the beneficiary of his generosity and his awareness of my own concerns. And the mischievousness that he brought to so many exchanges added to his charm and his appeal, even (especially?) when the subject was serious, or deep emotion was on the line.
I will remember Norm as a colleague and a mentor—most of all as a friend. I offer you and your family my condolences, and my heartfelt appreciation for what you, and all of us, have lost with his passing.
"To all the people that Norman Adler loved and cared for, especially his family, may you be comforted in some small way by the knowledge that he left this world having made a deep and lasting impact on so many lives. He lives on through the love, memories, and work of all those who were lucky enough to know him.
I feel blessed to be one of those people. In some way I have know Norm Adler my whole life; I grew up with his kids in Philadelphia. But, it wasn’t until he first became the Dean at YU that we got to know each other better. He was so proud and supportive of my decision to study Psychology. Sensing that, at that time, the Psychology department was found lacking in certain areas, especially the biological aspects of behavior, he taught an independent Neuroscience course to me and another student. What always stood out most for me, as an example of how dedicated he was to his students, was when he supported me in transferring to another school to purse a more rigorous research program and more publication opportunities. He even wrote me a letter of recommendation. This was Norm Adler—a man who always put his students' needs and goals ahead of his self-interest. He will be sorely missed."
"Sheila - I was so sorry to hear of your loss. May you and the entire family share many good memories. Hamkom y'nachem eschem...."
"NormanAdler, A"H, was one of the YU MUseum's best friends. From the minute he came to YU he enthused about the Museum's activities and included them in his academic prograns--the fist University dean to do so. He encouraged and initiated creativity , because he himself was a highly original thinker--a true romantic. We all loved him for his gentleness, his intellectual curiosity, his intuitive understanding and compassion,his soaring imaginative visions--he was truly an artistic and creative spirit whom we will all miss very much."
"From Dean Adler at Penn's College of Arts and Sciences to Dr. Adler in leadership at YU, to Norm -- mentor, guide, friend and instigator, I will miss the man who has been in my life in one way or another for 25 years. I will miss his questions, his insights, his provocations and his love; i always felt him in my corner even when we didn't agree. Thank you Norm for pushing me to do more, to be better, to reach."
"Dr. Adler was both my professor and friend during my time at Yeshiva and beyond. We debated issues of science and in his office and over coffee. He believed in me and pushed me to complete the Honors program at YU and to pursue a graduate degree at Yale. I am indebted to his genius and caring heart. May his memory be for a blessing."
"Dear family and friends of Dr. Adler,
We feel so sad knowing our beloved Dr. Adler is no longer with us. The impact he had on my husband in YU was and is unparalleled by any other figure. He was unique, funny and a heartwarming individual to be around. We will miss him."
"Tribute from Moshe Lehmann:
Hi Rav Bailey,
I just saw your wife's post about the passing of your stepfather. I studied with Dr. Adler at YU and aside from teaching me not just about psychology but also life, he made an impression on me for the type of person he was. I remember Dr. Adler for his nonconformity in a place where students and professors alike "toed the line" closely. He loved connecting seemingly unrelated disciplines, like psychology with philosophy (especially the Rambam) or both of them with Torah. I remember he brought in Rav Herschel Schachter as a guest lecturer to give a halachic analysis of the implications of new breakthroughs in neuroscience and robotics. Rav Shachter addressed questions regarding machines controlled by human brains doing melachot on shabbat. Rav Shachter demonstrated how the yesodot of Hilchot Shabbat can make sense of even the most innovative and unimaginable scenarios. Dr. Adler got a kick out of this synthesis of oft-at-odds subjects and it was this imaginative synthesis that taught me about the interconnectedness of all things in an ever-compartmentalized world. I'll remember him for his wit and happy-go-lucky attitude. For someone so deep and thought-out, it was ironic to encounter his "jokester" demeanor. It seemed like some part of him never left Berkeley in the 60s. But that charm and twinkle in his eye made Dr. Adler the great mentor that he was - he would scare you with the truth and in the same instant reassure you with his smile. I was very sorry to hear about his passing and your loss. He is one of the teachers I will never forget.
"My tribute to Papa:
It is very gard, but I wanted to share...My dad, Dr. Norman Adler passed away yesterday. The funeral was yesterday. Shiva today at my stepmother's in Jerusalem. The rest if this week, for me, in rbsa. My brother Tahg, will be here, in rbsa Tues. Many if my friends knew my dad from Penn and Yeshiva University. Over the past three weeks, I visited my dad in the hospital.
I spent the last Shabbat with my dad, and my sister, Shira. My other siblings Ari, Kiva and me and Tahg all have one amazing childhood memory if going to the symphony. He installed a love of classical music in me, and now my kids.
He was a brilliant, cultured scientist, academic. One if the first people to use a computer!
I went to Penn, and he was Dean, and fave me my diploma.
I live and miss you, Papa!!!!"
"Extremely sad to hear about Dr. Adler's passing. He was one of the best professors at YU, and led my favorite courses there. Out of all the things I learned, his Neuropsych course has stayed with me the most. Beyond that he was just an amazing person. We were lucky to get Dr. Adler at a point where he had achieved so much that all he really cared about was getting us to learn something and improve ourselves.
It always made my day when I got the chance to have a conversation with him either while he joined the rest of us students during lunch or while he was enjoying his cigar outside (which of course only he could pull off doing in the classiest way possible). Despite his significant status and accomplishments he never, ever spoke down to you, and always made you feel like his peer, simply having a chat. Always had a great joke, and some amazing insight to share.
His passing is a true loss to everyone who knew him, and also those who won't get the chance to know him, and benefit from his wisdom, kindness, and constant generosity.
"I am sorry to hear of the passing of Norman Adler, your dear husband, father, and grandfather. I taught several research methods sessions for Dr. Adler's Psychology of Religion courses. He artfully bolstered the skills I taught, almost in a tandem fashion that made it look as though we had rehearsed the lesson beforehand. He validated students' opinions and contributions, while challenging them to go beyond their comfort level of ingrained perspectives of Jewish rites, to arrive at the truth of Judaism on a deeper level.
HaMakom Yenachem Etchem B'Toch Sha'ar Aveieli Tzion v'Yerushalayim.
Yeshiva University Librarian"
"this morning i heard this heartbreaking news that i have been processing all day.
Norman was a man of deep, omnivorous curiosity, good humor and a warm heart. he loved his students. he fought to get them internships in the sciences because he believed in the power of exploration and failure and discovery! he believed in our students and knew they could go beyond their expectations.
Norman Adler was kind to me when i arrived at YU, welcoming me to his office, filled with exciting ideas and ways that my work on the marranos connected to fundamental issues in psychology and the human condition. I will miss his friendship and his beautiful energy!
all day i thought about those missed chances to sit and talk with him- alas!"
"I had the great fortune of participating in a number of academic contexts with Norm, who was one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met. Once, about 15 years ago, in the first incarnation of his by now legendary Psychology and Religion course, he had invited me and about 15 other faculty from across the disciplines to teach one class each. We all became so fascinated by the conversations we were able to have with each other and with the students, moderated by a clearly delighted Norm, that we all continued coming to every single class. The classroom was bursting at the seams. A few years later, Ruth Bevan, Norm, and I co-taught an Honors course in German Jewish Thinkers, which remains one of the most, if not THE most, intellectually stimulating course I ever participated in. Norm was his usual funny, infuriating, but always brilliant self, and he won my heart when at times he would simply cry, moved by the material. Another of the best experiences and memories of my life was in 2004, when Norm gave me green light to invite Salman Rushdie to Yeshiva University as part of the Yeshiva College Book Project program. It was a grand University-wide affair. Norm insisted that I bring my partner and my 2-month year old daughter to sit at the grand and festive dinner table with Salman Rushdie, the Provost, the President, Norm himself, and others. Norm brought joy, humor, enthusiasm, and intellectual stimulation wherever he went. His enjoyment of life, of its mysteries, its passions, and its absurdities, was contagious. I will miss him terribly."
"I remember when Dean Adler's mother passed away. He wanted to lead services as part of saying kaddish, but was nervous about his command of Hebrew. I assured him that it was purely a matter of practice, and that we could sit together, review it a bit, and if he reviewed it he'd be fine.
I've said that to many people over the years, but I think he might be the only one who took me up on it. We started with Maariv, and he resonated with the musical quality, the rhythm of it, and he spent that whole year leading parts of the services, because he was dedicated to doing so.
I also remember the siddur, with it's various stickers sticking out, parts he wanted to note in particular. Yehi zichro baruch."
"My farewell speech at my father's funeral:
I am not sure where to begin, so I'll just start.
How do I take the past 40 years of my lifetime memories with my father and now have to say goodbye with a farewell speech.
I called my father every day (at least once a day) for the past 20+ years of my life. When I flew in to visit my father in Israel last week, I asked him to please continue to call me every day. A few days ago, my father called me, simply said "hello" and then hung up the phone. I knew that was going to be the last time that I would ever have the chance to speak with him and my heart broke.
I was grateful for being able to spend just a few more days with him as we had some very good quality time together, but now my heart aches with the pain that I won't be able to speak to him about anything and everything anymore.
Whether it was an important career decision or a simple question about how to deal with my silly kids, he always had good answers to me. More than anything, he knew how to listen and his lesson for me was that we usually knew the answer ourselves, he would just let us talk in order to have us come up with the answer. That was a key lesson of his. Listen to others to let them say what needs to be said.
I want to try and highlight some of the amazing accomplishments my father achieved during his lifetime. I am a professional recruiter and think my father probably has one of the longest resumes in the history of the world filled with academic posts, publications, research and awards.
My father graduated from Harvard for his undergrad and then went on to pursue his PhD at UC Berkeley. He did his post doc at UCLA and then became a Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. My father actually created the Biological Basis of Behavior program at Penn which is now a popular program across many University campuses. My father was a Professor at Penn for 25 years and went on to become the Dean of the college of Arts and Sciences. He then spent a few years as Vice Provost at NorthEastern University in Boston and then eventually became the Dean at Yeshiva College in New York. After 10 years of being Dean at YU, he continued on as a Professor teaching hybrid courses around science and religion (two of his passions).
I have fond memories of visiting my father in his lab with my siblings at Penn during my childhood. I also have fond memories of building my blocks in my fathers office while he was busy working on his research. I remember his weird but intriguing masks that he collected from all over the world. I remember his incredibly complex fish tanks and even the framed butterflies he had on his walls.
My father is one of the smartest people I know. I think its' pretty safe to say that he was actually a genius. He was always thinking and always analyzing. But he did it in a cool way that was not threatening. He had a wonderful way of trying to connect with people at their levels. He was almost like a chameleon and could adapt to whatever conversational topic was being talked about. Granted, many times his level of understanding was well above many of us, but it was still fun to have those conversations with him.
He loved his siblings, his children, his step children, his cousins, his grandchildren, his step grandchildren, his wife and course all of the students he mentored throughout his 50+ years in academia. He told me last week, that the thing he loved most about being a professor was helping others and mentoring students. He enjoyed coaching and bringing out the best in people. I told him last week that my favorite part of my job is also helping and mentoring others and I think that brought a smile to his face.
Whenever I would be with my father in Israel (if he was visiting me or if I was visiting him), I would hear students call out, "Hey Dean Adler" and he would light up. To this day, I meet people who remember my father either as their Professor, Dean or academic advisor and they all have fond memories of him.
His academic passions were biology, physiological psychology and then in his later years he became very passionate about the merger between religion and science.
My father loved his family. He loved his friends. He loved Science and the pursuit of knowledge. He also loved music and tried to instill music in all of us, because he felt that was important. He would rotate by taking his kids to classical concerts throughout our youth. He was so proud of his brother's musical accomplishments and his daughter (my sisters') musical performances.
My father also liked to have fun and had a great sense of humor. It was sometimes intellectual humor, sometimes it was nerdy humor, but his humor was always unique to his personality which brought smiles to many of our faces.
Even though my father was an elite academic scholar, he still knew how to have fun and be silly and related to anyone on their level.
During my youth, he made up a language called Flagmere which was a language with no rules other than inserting silly words to describe something. For example, he would say, "Please pass me the borchmayer" (while pointing to an object and then you would know that object was the "borchmayer".
Growing up, I spent many nights watching horrible horror movies with my father. My father and I would then have long existential conversations about the meaning of the horror movies and sometimes he would take those conversations and put them into his University class lectures.
During my recent trip of visiting him in Israel last week, we actually spent some time watching horror movies in the hospital and would then try to dissect their meaning and significance.
I want to end my farewell speech to let everyone to know that out of all of my father's many accomplishments, awards and accolades, my father loved academia, he loved music, he loved science, he loved horrible horror movies, he loved his family, he loved his friends and he loved Israel. He had hoped that one day we would all end up living in Israel together. His plan was to move to Israel permanently by the end of next year upon retirement from YU. He was very proud of my sister Tanya for making Aliyah with her family and hoped that others would follow.
You accomplished so much in your lifetime and you leave us with wonderful memories that we will cherish.
I miss you and love you Padre...."
"I am so saddened to hear of Dean Adler's passing. He was an example to the students of Yeshiva University of a man of learning for whom intellectual engagement was more than a career but a way of life. His excitement about our ideas and projects encouraged us to dream bigger and to do more. While he will be missed most by his family, he will be missed also by the many students whose lives he touched. Al tikre banayich ela bonayich."
"I didn't know Norm but I know Tahg. Last week He shared how he would frequently call Norm on his drive to work. It had become tradition for them, almost daily. It made me cry and want to be a better Dad. Thank you Tahg for sharing that and I can only imagine how meaningful it was to you and your father."
"We were shocked to hear that Norman had passed. He graced our Minyan in Riverdale with his active mind, mastery of so many fields and innocent interest in learning. His cherubic smile and obvious pleasure of valued friendship - even when casual and occasional - made him a delight to us both. We will miss him much. Nihumim to Sheilah and all in the family. Judy and Chuck Sheer"
"I was heartbroken to learn of Norm's passing. He was a renaissance man, a true model of Torah Umadah, who enriched all who were privileged to know him. He will be sorely missed. Heartfelt nichumim to Sheila and the entire family."
"I had the honor of being a student of Dr. Adler. I took his psychology of religion course a few years back and interacted with him at Yeshiva College Honors Program events. His course was stimulating, lively, fun. I learned a ton.
Having the opportunity to learn from a man who was a thought leader in so many fields and lived the paragon of the modern orthodox intellectual's life was nothing but a privilege."
"When I came to Yeshiva University I did not know the name Norman Alder, or what it might mean to me as a student. By the time I graduated Norman Adler had become synonymous with the best friend of the arts in YU. I have fond memories of him being present in the theater to see the drama students perform. That was but the small token of everything he did behind the scenes to support the arts. One of the more delightfully dramatic personalities among professors to be sure, but also a force to be reckoned with in the advancement of learning and creative groeth at YU."
"Dr. Adler was my first Academic Mentor when I started YU. When I first met him, I knew I had to hang around him as much as possible. His personality was enlightening, inspirational, and one-of-a-kind. He is the reason I am in medical school now and I owe my academic career to him. He took me under his wing and taught me about the brain, about life, about Judaism, and about faith. I loved him dearly and will miss him very much."
"Norman was a cousin of my mom's. I remember him vividly from family gatherings- he was an amazing person! I miss him a lot. He was one of the first to introduce me to Jewish practice, for which I'll forever be grateful. He combined Orthodox observance with a 1960's-style skepticism and love of fun. I don't know how he did it, but it was awesome. He was like a frum version of Ben and Jerry!"
"It is with profound sadness that I learn of the passing of the great Norman Adler. I was privileged to be his student in about 4 or 5 courses. Dr. Adler was one of the most charming, inspiring, brilliant, and kind-hearted individuals I have ever met. On the day of the final exam in one of the courses I took with him, I recall him approaching my desk and that of a fellow classmate and slyly dropping us two cigars. After the exam, we all sat on a bench on 185th street together, smoked our cigars, and shared great conversation. That type of gesture is exceedingly unique, and is a good example of how Dr. Adler related to us, his students. Dr. Adler truly cared about his students. He took a real interest in us--in what we were thinking, what we were reading, how we were feeling. He wanted to learn from us just as we wanted to learn from him. It is no accident that I and several other students affectionately called him "Godfather". He will be sorely missed. Baruch Dayan HaEmet."
"Baruch Dayan haEmes. He was my teacher one semester. Clearly bright and somewhat absent minded but so, so, so kind. One of my most vivid memories of him was we were taking an exam in that class and he just walked out mid test leaving us with absolutely no supervision. We were sort of stunned by that and then maybe 10-15 minutes later, he returns with a bag of goods from the caf store for us to enjoy while we take our test. Such a kind man. His neshama should have an aliya."
I am heart broken by the news that I received, literally, ten minutes ago from Fred Sugarman. I intended to email Norm today about various things; I had many things to discuss with him. I missed him over the summer..... I had emailed him a few weeks ago that Yvonne Delaine, the Provost's secretary, would be involuntarily leaving YU at the end of August. He promptly called her from Israel. Her joy at receiving that call just adds to the many-fold memories I have of dear Norman. How sometimes I wanted to throttle him but always with love in the heart. I called him my adopted brother. For such he was in spirit and such he shall remain. I shall miss him sorely. His mind was a gift. I always said that I loved to listen to his mind work. It was like a precision instrument, even better than the finely tuned piano he loved so much. For us faculty at YU, the quality of life, academically and materially, deteriorated beyond repair after Norman left the Deanship of Yeshiva College. He had a love of and commitment to the world of ideas and learning that inspired and guided. He knew how to combine this idea with that, to innovate and to energize the depleted. Music's healing powers over the infirm. The magic of beautifully arranged flowers. At a Schneier Program dinner last year Norm wended his way through the seated guests attentively listening to a speaker. He was gingerly carrying a lovely Ikebana he had made for the occasion. He marched to the head table where he placed his creation as his gift to those assembled. I remember, when Norm was Dean, a Japanese woman came weekly to teach him the art of Ikebana. He was an eternal student. This drive to connect with the vibrant world of ideas led him to become the third member of what was originally scheduled as a team taught class with Dr. Elizabeth Stewart and myself on German Jewish Writers and Thinkers. The subject vitally interested Norm. He came to the class to give a talk and wound up coming every session after that! And usually late! On the occasion of my receiving the Presidential Medallion at the 2016 YU Commencement, Norm gave me a book about Leonard Cohen, whose music he knew I liked. I wanted to discuss that book, Cohen's music with Norm once classes resumed this fall.....All the memories -- like the wonderful Friday evenings spent with you, Sheila, and Norm. Your wonderful Shabbat meals. The ruach. Norm alone at the University addressed me by the diminutive form of my name, Ruth. That was appropriate. We were deep friends. I shall miss him more than words can describe. Yet I still hear his voice, questioning something as he pushes his eyeglasses in place with his finger. He looks me inquisitively in the eye with his penetrating eye, for the answer. And I see him weep....for his heart brimmed over with kindness and love. And I'll never forget that impish laugh and mischievous twinkle in those aquamarine eyes. Norm lived a life of ceaseless personal development as a scholar and as a committed Jew. He loved all things Jewish. In fact religion was his passion. His journey from Chicago to Boston to Philadelphia to New York was adventureous, thorny, glorious, grueling, rewarding and illuminating. He lived life to its fullest. It gives me peace to know that he has found his rest in his beloved Israel.
May the family be comforted among the mourners of Zion.
Ruth Bevan Dunner"
"I was saddened to hear of the passing of Dr. Normal Adler. I took Introduction to Behavioral Neuroscience with Dr. Adler. But, the course was more than just a class. He opened up my world to so much more than just neuroscience. His kindness and soft-spokenness touched me. He taught me the world is wondrous and has so much good. He was phenomenal and I shall never forget him. Tiheyeh nishmato serurah besror hachayim.
"I'm shocked and greatly saddened to hear of Professor Adler's petira. Like Noam, I too was in Professor's last YU class of "Psychology of Religion" last semester. I don't think there was a class in my 4 years of YU that I so thoroughly enjoyed as much as I did that one. We had some of the most meaningful and thought-provoking conversations and class discussions. Perhaps the most meaningful part about it was just how much Professor Adler truly cared about us and our thoughts on the issues at hand. He really cared about our futures and how we spent our lives. He would routinely bring special resources, materials, and objects to class because he had been thinking about us during the week and felt this would make us happy and more interested in the the topic and further the discussion. While he was clearly a brilliant man, it was his heart that perhaps left the biggest impression on us students. Sometimes after class, I and a few other students who were particularly close with him would just stay for over a half hour after class just schmoozing about the class discussion in more detail and we would have very personal and deep discussions about life. As Noam said, Professor Adler was 100% serious about having a class shabbaton, and we we're equally excited about it - it would have been great. After my time studying with Professor Adler, I felt that my mind, heart, and soul were greatly influenced in a plethora of ways. The variety of sources of knowledge he introduced us too, and his deeply sincere and open-minded approach to analyzing life was simply unforgettable. Professor Adler made us better people, and also better Jews. He will always have a special place in my heart. My condolences to his family. Take comfort in the knowledge that he was a man who "brought blessings to those around him". Professor, you'll be missed."
"It's with great sadness that I hear of the passing of this great professor. I was privileged to take him last semester for Psychology of Religion. He was truly passionate about what he taught and that was obvious to every one of us there. On a personal level, he was easy to talk to, genuinely cared about all of us and was such an enjoyable presence to be around. Never have I had a professor with whom I tried to organize a class shabbaton and that is indicative of the the great closeness we felt towards him. He will surely be missed but the impact he made on so many students will remain forever."
Have a suggestion for us?