This memorial website was created in memory of Dr. Norm Adler, who passed away in Jerusalem on September 11, 2016 (8 Elul, 5776). 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.

The Gilui Matzeva  (Unveiling) took place on Sunday, January 29, 2017,
2 Shevat, 
at the Eretz HaChayim Cemetery (near Bet Shemesh).
Photos in the Gallery section.

Memorial service held on November 20th at the University of Pennsylvania:

Memorial service held on November 10th at Yeshiva University:
It's about an hour long, but worthwhile.

A beautiful photo-tribute video that Tahg made:

Eulogies delivered at the funeral:
(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:
(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:

To make a contribution in Norm's memory to Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Hospital where Norm was lovingly treated, click here:


There are still two tractates available (Ketubot and Bechorot), if anyone wants to help complete the learning of Mishnayot in Norm's memory. Click here: 


Posted by Harriet Mandel on June 8, 2020
Music, art, anything cultural, especially the offbeat stuff that few "get", brings to mind Norman and his voracious appetite for analytical conversation about anything and everything. What times we had talking and enjoying, escavating the new and the old in ways that only Norman could. What would he make of today's world - Covid19 and the world marching to irradicate racism. We miss his insights that might have had the chance to solve all our problems. With Love, Harvey and Harriet
Posted by Joyce Jesionowski on June 7, 2019
I often think of Norman...of his humor, his creativity, his endless energy. I loved working with him. I miss him.
Posted by Jacob Lindenthal on June 7, 2019
I will always fondly remember Dean Adler. Attempting to specify his attributes risks the omission of many others.
Jacob Jay Lindenthal, Ph.D., Dr. PH
Professor Emeritus
Rutgers University
Posted by Stuart Adler on September 11, 2018
Your kind demeanor, sweet disposition and overall” mensch “which has always been part of you will continue in memory and thoughts of the many people that you touched in your life.
Linda and I
Posted by Cindy Russo on September 11, 2018
Uncle Norm,
Always in our hearts as we remember your kind words and generous nature of giving to so many in your life. We miss you and cherish our special times together.
Posted by Joyce Jesionowski on September 11, 2018
Hard not to remember Norman's leadership on this frightening day when F-16's were flying up Amsterdam Avenue and everything seemed perilous. In just such times your steadiness, compassion and care were what we all needed. Never to be forgotten.
Posted by Stuart Adler on September 11, 2017
Linda and I as well as our family miss speaking to you about so many subjects in many directions. I think of you often as well as the last few days prior to the morning of September 11,2016. We love you.
Posted by David Lobron on September 11, 2017
I miss you, Norman! Thinking of you and your family on this 1-year yahrzeit.
Posted by Seymour Adler on June 7, 2017
Norm is very much in my mind and heart on thsi day. I still miss him alot. I feel connected thsi week because I am reading one of the books I inhereted from him, holding thepagres he last held.
Posted by Donne Kampel on June 7, 2017
Still miss you, Norm. But, you are in our hearts and will remain there forever.
Posted by Joyce Jesionowski on June 7, 2017
Norman loved flowers. As I tend my roses on this beautiful day in the Finger Lakes, I recall his appreciation for beauty in all its forms.
Posted by Josh Hillman on December 14, 2016
If you asked me what a lens is, I would not know how to answer. What type of lens are you asking about? The lens of an old pair of binoculars, the one on your iPhone camera, or of a magnifying glass you used to play detective with when you were little? As a medical student, when I think about the lens I am struck most by the anatomical lens. With her biconcavity, she plays gate keeper to images, exerting her presence as the primary processor of light. She is the first to decide how to refract the incoming image, soon to be delivered as pure sensory afferent signals through the optic nerve (CN II).
When I remove my white coat, my concept of a lens changes with it. The idea of a lens morphs into an abstract entity—a vantage point through which I view the world. A collective consciousness of the people I’ve encountered, the places I’ve seen, of the times I’ve contemplated what it is that I think and why I think it. For me, my mentors contribute most to that consciousness. Mentors play an integral role in shaping perception—the people that I look to as my guiding light to help me make sense of it all. The concept of mentorship and the mentor-student relationship is demonstrated beautifully in the Talmud’s anecdote about the relationship between Rabbi Yochanan and Reish Lakish.
After meeting each other while swimming in the Sea of Galilee, Reish Lakish and Rabbi Yochanan went on to become inseparable friends—the type of friends who understood each others thoughts, who challenged one another and respected what the other had to say for the sake of learning from the discourse. Rabbi Yochanan and Reish Lakish both helped enhance the others’ lens, enabling each to excel in their studies. Stronger together, they helped each other reach acclaim in the tannaitic period following the death of Yehuda Ha-Nasi, otherwise known as Judah the Prince, redactor of the mishna. The Talmud recounts the days after Reish Lakish passed into the world of life everlasting.
When Rabbi Yochanan heard the news of Reish Lakish’s death he was utterly distraught. Unsure how to console him, the local rabbis decided that they should send one rabbi to comfort Rabbi Yochanan. After deliberating, Rabbi Elazar ben Pedat was chosen for the job because “his ideas are very sharp.” So Rabbi Elazar ben Pedat went to console him with his sharpness. He sat before Rabbi Yochanan who was studying a text, and everything that Rabbi Yochanan said to ben Pedat, ben Pedat would respond by saying, “there is scripture that supports you.” No longer able to endure the gut wrenching pain felt by the absence of his dear friend, Rabbi Yochanan screamed:

“You are nothing like Reish Lakish! When I would say something to him, he would challenge me with 24 objections and I would answer him with 24 answers, which led to a fuller understanding of the law. And you say, there is scripture that supports me?”

Unable to contain himself, Rabbi Yochanan unleashed his pent up grief onto ben Pedat for agreeing with everything he said. The Talmud continues, “He (Rabbi Yochanan) went out and tore his clothes and screamed through tears, “Where are you Reish Lakish? Where are you Reish Lakish?”
On September 11, 2016, I experienced the loss of my own Reish Lakish. I was just getting home from a long day studying Neurology. As I turned the key to my door on King Solomon street I felt a buzz in my pocket—I received an email. The message came from Daniel First, and had no body or text, just a screenshot and title line, “Adler z”l.” “To our Brother-in-law, Dr. Norm Adler z”l—a compassionate, brilliant, spiritual, and wonderful human being… we will deeply miss you… funeral will be 7pm (Israel time) at Eretz Chaim Cemetery near Beit Shemesh.” I caught the next bus from Rabin Square.
The enormity of the loss didn’t hit me right away. I couldn’t accept the reality of Adler’s death, so I tried to hold on as long as I could. It has been over two months that I have been mourning my mentor, Dr. Norman Adler z”l, one of the most prodigiously profound lens shapers of my life. Dr. Adler was my professor at Yeshiva University under whom I studied Psychobiology and Neuropsychology, and my faculty advisor for a group of students (he referred to us as “The Boys”) who were interested in learning about Neuroscience. Nicknamed “The Godfather”, Adler was our faculty liaison communicating our interests to the administration—to people like Harry Ballan, Dean Eichler, Dr. Raji Viswanathan, Dean Sugarman, Dr. Carl Feit, Dr. Gabriel Cwillich and Dr. Will Lee et al. Yeshiva wasn’t ready to create a new Neuroscience major at the time, so Dr. Adler helped us in creating Yeshiva’s first Yeshiva College Neuroscience Society (YCNS). Not too dissimilar from The Dead Poets Society, we rallied around Adler like the students of Welton Academy rallied around John Keating (Robin Williams). Adler reveled in our reveling by helping us create the society, and inviting what he referred to as “friends” to give lectures.
As starry-eyed neophytes knowing next to nothing, we had no idea that these friends were actually brilliant scholars in their fields. To get a sense of the list, it included : Dr. Donald Pfaff, Dr. Sam Sacher, Dr. Heather Berlin, Dr. Jonathan Berger, Dr. Stuart Apfel, Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twersky, Rabbi Herschel Schechter, Dr. Concetta Tomaino and David Cesarini.
One thing he believed in more than anything was that neuroscience was not like the rest of the sciences. Not to say that it was superior, but that it was different. It was not like cell biology which looks at the nature of different cell types throughout the body, or like microbiology which looks at the bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites that share in inhabiting the earth with us. Nor was it like biochemistry which looks at the enzymes and molecules responsible for mechanisms of metabolism and cell function that exist in the body. Neuroscience was unique because it was interdisciplinary. A culmination of blood vessels and brain tissue responsible for innervating every aspect of the body, every organ, every fiber, the stomach the heart, sympathetic and parasympathetic, somatic and autonomic, nicotinic and muscarinic. The brain is responsible for balance and memory and hormonal regulation, and temperature and sleep. It is an all encompassing organ and field of pursuit. In Adler’s realm, to be a neuroscientist was not to know the brain, but to know all aspects of the brain—the embryology, physiology, histology, biochemistry, epidemiology, pathology, pharmacology, pathophysiology, organic and inorganic chemistry, physics, and calculus. Looking back on the first time he articulated that thought to me, I now envision the scene in Margaret Edson’s Wit, when Dr. E.M. Ashford, great scholar of John Donne’s holy sonnets criticizes a young Olivia Bearing for failing to use the Gardner Edition of the text—“This is metaphysical poetry, not the modern novel. The standards of scholarship and critical reading… which one would apply to any other text are simply insufficient. The effort must be total for the results to be meaningful.”
Adler’s interdisciplinary pursuits did not stop with neuroscience. He loved Judaism, Indian dance, he had an insatiable thirst for reading, a reverence for rabbis and holocaust survivors and he loved teaching. He loved to ardently discuss anything and everything with Rabbi Ozer Glickman aka “The Dude.” He loved his Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt, Furst 535, and freaking out about how the world was coming to an end. He loved trying to get us all do to MD/PhD’s and apply for fellowships. He LOVED Judy Collins and Oliver Sacks. He loved Waiting for Godot, and he loved his students so incredibly much. He had so much love for so many students for so many years. Lighting candles and shaping souls, Adler indelibly changed the course of countless lives. He empowered us to think like Alexander Hamilton in Lin Manuel Miranda’s masterpiece—to stand up and say to ourselves and the world, “I WILL NOT THROW AWAY MY SHOT!”
On a personal note, he taught me what acetylcholine was. How neurons fire and exhibit saltatory conduction from one node of Ranvier to the next. Why auditory and olfactory senses are so highly connected with memory. What comprises the diencephalon. Why sometimes we feel like we have eyes in the back of our head. Most importantly, he taught me to ask better questions, the way Rabbi Yochanan and Reish Lakish would challenge each other—going beyond the “sharpness” of ben Pedat. He taught me Aristotle’s Five Causes. He taught me how to run a film festival. He led by example, and he led with ease—a true catalyst who lowered the activation energy of those around him so that they too could see the light.
Adler always reminded me of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s little prince—perpetually curious and continuously striving. I miss his smirks. I miss his late night email rants. I miss the books he would lend me to read—one of the most impactful of which, As a Driven Leaf by Milton Steinberg. I miss talking to him about Chaim Potok, and of course Moshe Koppel’s timeless essay Yiddishkeit Without Ideology: A Letter to my Son. I miss the way he would always come late, make the most noise, ask the most questions, make the most people laugh, and do a little jig on top of it all—he stole the show in the most adorable way, putting on a ballet of intellectual discourse exposing just how much he knew and understood—all in the humblest of ways. I miss his penetrating ability to touch your soul and make you be the best version of yourself. He showed me how brilliant my own mind was, how incredibly lucky I was to have a mother who raised me with opera and show tunes, a father who raised me with science and math, a brother who challenged me by paving an impressive path, and a grandmother who struggled for me, who fought for her life as a Schindler’s List Survivor, so that my life could be what it is. Adler did this for anyone and everyone. He helped us all see what was right in front of our noses all along—the true lens.
Most of all I miss his wit. Senior year I was taking an ethics course with Linda Brown. Adler and I sat down to discuss ethics for a paper I was writing about Kant’s paradoxical obsessiveness with pure virtue. “Ya, Kant was a little uptight” he said, “he probably just needed to get laid.” We both died of laughter. Never did I ever see even an iota of arrogance in Adler, and it is obvious why. Adler never looked at the world in terms how much he knew or accomplished, but in terms of how much he could know and accomplish. Shifting perspective and adjusting the lens, Adler had a deep appreciation and respect for the universe and the billions of incredibly intricate biological reactions constantly choreographed and completed in chorus.
In my final class with Adler in my Junior year of College, Adler assigned me a special homework assignment—I was to prepare John Keats’ prolific piece Ode on a Grecian Urn (yes, this was for a Neuroscience course). I’ll never forget that day in class how he went line by line through the poem, dissecting its sentences into phrases into words into letters into punctuation. I’ll never forget how he found himself on the verge of joyful tears as he recited the final lines contrasting its similarity with the final verses of Ecclesiastes:

When old age shall this generation waste,
Though shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,--that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

And with my own rendition of Whitman I will end:

O Captain! my captain! our fearful trip is done
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
O Captain! my captain! you guided the perplexed
You showed us ways of looking so the lens could be convex
Posted by Matt Rosenblatt on December 13, 2016
We were saddened to learn of Norm Adler’s passing.
Here is the story of how Norm, when he was Dean of Yeshiva College, helped put our oldest son, Edward Rosenblatt ’03, on the right path.
Eddie was a Math major, but he was having difficulty with the Physics courses that go along with a Math major. Meanwhile, here in Maryland, Mrs. Shirley Stein was the secretary of our shul, the Randallstown Synagogue Center. Shirley was Sheila’s mother. Sheila and my wife, Tova (the former Tobi Slote), were classmates in the Stern Class of ’67. That year, Shirley was getting the family together for Sukkos, and Norm and Sheila would be coming from New York. When I told her that I’d like to talk to Norm, Shirley invited me to lunch on the second day of Sukkos. After services in Randallstown, I walked to Pikesville and ate in Sheila’s sister Adrienne’s sukkah. Norm and I spent some time talking, but not about Eddie. Instead, we reminisced about our time in college, living in Leverett House as classmates in the Harvard Class of ’62. After Yom Tov was over, before they gave me a ride back to Randallstown, Norm told me that he would talk to Eddie once he got back to Yeshiva.
What Norm told Eddie is that Physics is not the only science that goes with a Math major. He encouraged Eddie to try a few Economics courses. When Eddie followed Norm’s advice, he wound up graduating YU with a double major in Math and Economics. Today, Eddie is putting this knowledge to good use as an accountant. 
We will always associate kindness and good times with Norm Adler’s memory.
Posted by Donne Kampel on December 1, 2016
It was with deep sadness that I learned of the passing of Norman Alder. Norman was a friend and colleague of mine at Yeshiva University. He was truly gifted, generous, and had a great sense of humor. When I left YU, we kept in touch for a long time. His death is a real loss. The planet has lost a good man. But those of us who knew him will keep him forever in our hearts.
Posted by Tanya Stein on November 15, 2016
In honor of my father, I hosted a tehillim shiur given by Rebbetzin Landau.
My father was an amazing man, family and friends adore him. I would like to share a bit about the class:
The psalm chosen was 23. The psalm says that g-d is always with you. A person is never alone. He gives comfort and strength to whoever needs him.
David was a shepherd and a king. He played the harp and was inspired to reach spiritual heights as a shepherd. Not that he was close to g-d just because he was a king.
G-d determines our kind of life and oversees us as a shepherd.
I only mentioned a few points. My father was not g-d, but he always gave me and my family what g-d gives all of us. Securtiy, love and confidence we are not alone.
The point of this class was to honor my father, a man who loved art, music and education. I miss my dad horribly everyday.
May his neshama have an aliyah. I wish you were here, and making aliyah. But, I am so glad we all saw you a lot, I just wish it was for a longer time.
Love you, papa,
Posted by David Siscovick on November 6, 2016
I too was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Norm Adler. Others have commented on his good name, unique character traits, intellect, passion, and the impact he had on their lives. I write to share my story, in part, because it relates to a particular period in his life.

When I started as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania (1968), Dr. Adler was a junior faculty member in the Department of Psychology; and he was assigned to be my academic advisor. We met frequently during my four years at Penn; and he took a very personal interest in helping me both as a person and a student. Given my interests, he created an independent major "Psychobioloigy", so that I could pursue interdisciplinary studies in neuroscience as an undergraduate at Penn. I subsequently learned that I was the pilot for a much larger effort; he subsequently had created a formal interdisciplinary major at Penn, known as the "Biological Basis of Behavior".

During my years at Penn, I lived at the Jewish Residence House (JRH), first on Locust Walk and then on Spruce Street, with a group of 12 Shomer Shabosh male students, almost all of whom were pre-med. Norm would come over to the house; and, he developed friendships with many of the guys who lived in the JRH. It was a particularly tumultuous time in our country and at Penn. It meant alot to have a faculty member who was interested and supportive of our efforts to have an Orthodox Jewish presence on campus, with strong support for Israel and the student struggle for Soviet Jewry.

I have many fond memories of Norm. One that probably did the most to change the course of my life was when Norm lamented one day during one of our many meetings: "I didn't do one thing creative today". I think of his lament frequently. The statement also influenced me to pursue an academic career in Medicine and Public Health as a clinician-scientist.

More than 30 years after I left Penn, I was fortunate to have lunch with Norm at YU. Norm and I reminisced about the Jewish Residence House and our time together at Penn. I also had a chance to tell him about my family and the role he played in the development of my academic career. It also was an opportunity for me to show Hakaras Hatov to Norm for all that he had done for me and my family.

In short, Norman Adler was an incredibly important mentor and roll model for me and countless others who sought to maintain our Yiddishkeit whlle developing our academic interests at Penn. In many ways, he shaped my professional development and career not to mention my family. 

There is little doubt that his good name, meaningful life, and impact across generations will long be remembered. I thank Hashem for the time in my life when I was given the opportunity to be inspired by and learn from Dr. Norman Adler.

David Siscovick
Posted by Shalom Holtz on October 28, 2016
Norm and I would meet, always unplanned, in the hallways at YU and at services in Riverdale. Our conversation always picked up where it last left off-- the importance of the academic study of religion for understanding Judaism's sacred literature. Sometimes, I'd ask him something about Freud or Eliade, but usually he had a question for me about something he'd read or about his experience trying to bring ancient Near Eastern mythology to Yeshiva students. 
More than any of these learned conversations, however, the following two memories will remain forever ingrained in my mind. The first consists of the only two words I can quote from him directly. When we learned that we shared an alma mater, we asked each other which "House" we had lived in. When I told him I had lived in Eliot House, known to once have been the haven of Mayflower descendants and their social kin, he said, "You stinker!" The second memory comes from Friday night services in Riverdale. I would bring my children to a family-oriented service, and Norm would come there, too, on his own, without any youngsters in tow. He always participated in the kid-friendly worship with a huge smile of sheer religious ecstasy on his face. He once explained why he came, despite the profound age gap between him and the rest of us at the service, but his actual words have faded away, at least for me. But that look of joy can never fade; I imagine him still wearing it now . . .
Posted by Donald McEachron on October 24, 2016
I am deeply saddened to hear of Norm's passing. He was a great mentor and helped me get started in the academic world of Philadelphia. I would not be where I am today without his guidance and mentorship.

'An honest man here lies at rest,

The friend of man, the friend of truth,

The friend of age, and guide of youth:

Few hearts like his, with virtue warm'd,

Few heads with knowledge so inform'd;
If there's another world, he lives in bliss;

If there is none, he made the best of this.'
   - Robert Burns
Posted by Jonathan Berger on September 30, 2016
Norm was always so wonderfully unpredictable. Working with him, I always felt as if I was running through a maze with Norm in always in the lead, I, often breathlessly trying to keep up He was brilliant, wonderfully zany, learned, and above all, a true mensch.
It was an enormous privilege to get to collaborate with Norm - an association that started with the chance meeting of our respective wives in their spin class. I treasure all our exchanges, and will always be grateful for all he shared with me. I miss him.
My deepest condolences to Sheila and the family.
HaMakom yenachem et'chem b'toch shar avay'lay Tzion vee'Yerushalayim.
Posted by Seymour Adler on September 20, 2016
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,
Posted by Dovid Stein on September 20, 2016
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.
Posted by Moshe Glasser on September 18, 2016
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.
Posted by Tahg Adler on September 16, 2016
Memorial blog link that YU posted about my father:
Posted by marilyn selber on September 16, 2016
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
Posted by Jill Katz on September 16, 2016
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.
Jill Katz
Posted by Stanley Raskas on September 16, 2016
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
Posted by Lin Snider on September 16, 2016
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,.
Posted by Jacob Ukeles on September 15, 2016
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
Posted by Gordon Bermant on September 15, 2016
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
Posted by Jacob Lindenthal on September 15, 2016
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.

Sincerely yours,

Jacob Jay Lindenthal
Posted by Harriet Mandel on September 14, 2016
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
Posted by Tahg Adler on September 14, 2016
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?

Richard Garfield
Posted by Ira Piltz on September 14, 2016
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.
Posted by David Rettinger on September 14, 2016
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.
Posted by Tahg Adler on September 14, 2016
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. 
Paul (Rozin)
Posted by Isaac Chavel on September 14, 2016
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
Posted by Tahg Adler on September 14, 2016
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 (
Director, Biological Basis of Behavior Program (
University of Pennsylvania
Posted by Karen Bacon on September 13, 2016
Dear Sheila,

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.
Posted by Felix Wimpfheimer on September 13, 2016
Sincere sympathy on the passing of this unique man, Jew and scholar..It was a privilege to communicate with him.
Posted by Yosef Blau on September 13, 2016
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
Posted by Effy Unterman on September 13, 2016
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.
Posted by Daniel Billig on September 13, 2016
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.
Posted by Yona Reiss on September 13, 2016
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
Yona Reiss
Posted by Rochel Gelman on September 13, 2016
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.
Posted by Steven Bayme on September 13, 2016
Dear Sheila
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
Posted by Charles Gallistel on September 13, 2016
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.
Posted by Anna-Lisa Cohen on September 13, 2016
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.
Posted by Fred Sugarman on September 13, 2016
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.
Posted by Shalom Carmy on September 13, 2016
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.
Posted by Joyce Jesionowski on September 13, 2016
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 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
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Recent Tributes
Posted by Harriet Mandel on June 8, 2020
Music, art, anything cultural, especially the offbeat stuff that few "get", brings to mind Norman and his voracious appetite for analytical conversation about anything and everything. What times we had talking and enjoying, escavating the new and the old in ways that only Norman could. What would he make of today's world - Covid19 and the world marching to irradicate racism. We miss his insights that might have had the chance to solve all our problems. With Love, Harvey and Harriet
Posted by Joyce Jesionowski on June 7, 2019
I often think of Norman...of his humor, his creativity, his endless energy. I loved working with him. I miss him.
Posted by Jacob Lindenthal on June 7, 2019
I will always fondly remember Dean Adler. Attempting to specify his attributes risks the omission of many others.
Jacob Jay Lindenthal, Ph.D., Dr. PH
Professor Emeritus
Rutgers University
Recent stories

Dr. Norman Adler in memoriam

Shared by Ruth Bevan-Dunner on September 11, 2020

On this day, September 11, it is most fitting to recall Norm's lecture for the Schneier Program on "9/11: How Should A Nation Mourn? Psychologies of Religion and Responses to Tragedy"  which he presented at Yeshiva College on September 21, 2011.  Considering the current national (and international) malaise of multiple causes, I know Norm would have many
prescient and thought-provoking thoughts to share with us. Were he only here to share them with us!

Our dear friend vividly lives on in the memory of us, his loving friends. I miss you, Norm!
With love and respect,

Why I am alive because of Dr. Adler, literally

Shared by Ayden Jacob on January 5, 2018

Dr. Adler kept me alive while I was a student at YU. During my first year at YU, I struggled a lot with mental health issues. As a student in the honors program, I crossed paths with Dr. Adler very frequently, but my introversion and depression prevented me from ever speaking with him. After he heard of my intense interest in neuroscience, Dr. Adler came over to me and asked to talk. This conversation quickly switched from intellect to emotions, from professor- student to father-son mechanisms. He probed, gently. He cares, deeply. 

Fast forward a year: we became best friends. We emailed, spoke on the phone and in person every week. I’d go to his office once a week to chat about life, Neuroscience, and health- both his and mine. I worked in a lab down the hall from his office, and very frequently I’d see him working late; I’d pop into his office and remind him to go home and relax. 

Why do I say he saved my life? He pushed me- constantly- to deal with my mental health issues. He really pushed me. He’d email me reminding me to see a therapist or meditate that day. He forced me to care for myself beyond what I was comfortable with doing. 

After I graduated, the one person at YU I stayed in contact with was Dr. Adler. I had a deep love for this man. I cared for his well being, and the feeling was mutual. When things got hard in life, I emailed him for career and life advice. I can’t get into the details, but I must telll you one thing: when everyone else stopped caring, he didn’t. He cared so much. And he didn’t let politics or rumors get in the way. 

Yes, taking many courses with him at YU was superb. I have endless stories about those classes. But my story is far beyond his amazing classes; it’s about who he was. In my darkest time, a professor across the country took the time to guide and help me. 

I wish I could go into more detail as to why I say I’m alive because of him, but I can’t. But I’d like his family to know that Dr. Adler saved my life. He was a father figure to me. He never gave up on me. He pushed me. He made me grow. He was gentle and kind beyond words to me. I will always miss him. 

Tanach I received from my swearing in ceremony at the Kotel that I gave to Pop for his birthday

Shared by Tahg Adler on December 18, 2016

Sheila was going through my father's Judiaca books and came across the Tanach that I gave him that I receieved from my swearing in ceremony at the Kotel over 15 years ago.  This picture shows the inscription that I wrote to Pop when I gave him this Tanach:


I love you and wish that you will enjoy this Tanach that I received at the Kotel for my swearing in ceremony.

We will enjoy this together when we return to our Homeland.

Bahava v Shalom,

Tahg Khorin Adler