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Steinberg Steps Down as Hillel President and Executive Director

By Xi Yu, Crimson Staff Writer

The Harvard Hillel Board of Directors announced earlier today the retirement of Hillel President and Executive Director Bernard Steinberg, who has led the religious non-profit organization for 18 years.

An e-mail sent to undergraduate members of the Hillel community by Hillel Undergraduate Steering Committee President Nell S. Hawley ’10-’11 explained that Steinberg will be tending to “new projects” that engage individuals in meaningful Jewish discourse.

“My work at Harvard Hillel for nearly two decades has been a labor of love,” Steinberg said in a press release. “It has truly been a joy to collaborate with students, faculty, and alumni to build a mission driven pluralistic community on the Harvard campus.”

At their meeting today. the Board of Directors elected Carl S. Sloane ’58, professor emeritus at Harvard Business School, as the board’s new chairman and Economics Professor Benjamin M. Friedman ’66 as the organization’s new president.

Robert Beal, the former chairman of the Board, praised Steinberg’s “extraordinary” leadership over the years and commended him for turning Harvard Hillel into one of the “largest, most active, and most visible student organizations at Harvard.”

During Steinberg’s tenure, he helped create a new leadership education program to foster interaction between diverse communities within Harvard, according to the press release.

This May, he received the Covenant Award, a prize that celebrates Jewish educators who have impacted Jewish life by taking an innovative approach to education.

“[Steinberg] has been able to connect and guide students, both Jewish and non-Jewish, on campus,” said Hillel Director of Annual Giving and External Relations Rachel Van Emon. “The students will really miss him.”

Steinberg’s administration faced controversy in 2008, when Hillel discovered financial reporting irregularities, according to a letter sent to the organization’s student community by Steinberg and Beal that year.

Harvard Hillel accountant William O’Brien, who was hired by Hillel in 2003 through the financial management contracting agency Insource Services, was charged with larceny, forgery, and false entries in corporate books in connection to the fraud. He pled guilty last month to stealing nearly $780,000 from the religious nonprofit.

Steinberg will serve as acting executive director until Jan. 1, 2011 and remain executive director emeritus from then on. A search committee will begin looking for a new executive director over the course of the year, according to Hawley’s e-mail.

—Staff writer Xi Yu can be reached at

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