Belda K. Lindenbaum z"l
Of the voices from the last half century that spoke for Modern Orthodox scholarship, Belda K. Lindenbaum's rang out clearly for the role of women as she established her place as an advocate for serious women's learning, agunot, and women's leadership in the Jewish community. Born in 1938 in New York, Ms. Lindenbaum attended the Ramaz School and Finch College, a women's college in Manhattan. As a young mother to five children--Nathan, Matthew, Bennett, Victoria and Abigail, she was encouraged by her husband, Marcel Lindenbaum, to redefine her relationship with Orthodoxy and model a pathway to observance for her daughters. Together, the Lindenbaums founded and supported many Jewish organizations that defined a new order for scholarship and Jewish practice, most notably Midreshet Lindenbaum yeshiva for women, Drisha, JOFA, Yeshivat Maharat, Darkhei Noam, and Machon Siach at SAR High School.
Young women who studied at Drisha or participated in JOFA found in Ms. Lindenbaum an impressive figure guiding important institutions and yet an engaged and accessible mentor who pushed them to fulfill their potential and overcome their fears at challenging the establishment. Ms. Lindenbaum, herself, was not afraid to raise her voice when necessary to be her own advocate, famously calling out "Kaddish" from the women's gallery of a synagogue when the men below failed to recognize that she wished to say the mourner's prayer. Her courage caused them to stop and take note and her prayer proceeded.
In May 2015, Belda K. Lindenbaum z"l died, leaving a remarkable legacy in the world of Jewish scholarship and particularly Jewish women's scholarship. In her memory, the Lindenbaum family came forward with a major gift to SAR High School to fund Machon Siach based on conversations with Belda Lindenbaum at the end of her life. She viewed SAR High School as taking on the mantle of Modern Orthodox leadership and felt that building a strong, vibrant, Modern Orthodox community requires a school with a vision of thought leadership from administration, faculty, and alumni. Her commitment to SAR is also shared by her children. Nathan, Victoria and Abigail all have children who attended or currently attend SAR High School. Each of Belda’s children and grandchildren, exhibit the energy and commitment to the Jewish community that was modeled and lived by Belda during her lifetime.
Click Here to read a tribute to Belda Lindenbaum z"l by Ms. Lisa Schlaff
(on the occasion of shloshim memorial commemoration)
Tribute Film by Elena Neuman Lefkowitz in memory of Belda Lindenbaum z"l
(with appreciation to JOFA for use of footage)