Brandeis Alumni, Family and Friends

Grateful Alumnus Revises Planned Gift to Honor his Father

Long before Rabbi Herb Tobin ’75, P’16, became a Brandeis student, the University was part of his life. Now, over 40 years after his graduation, Herb and his wife have amended their wills to further support the fund they established more than a decade ago.

The estate-plan gift from Herb and Suzy will augment the Daniel Tobin Fund for Hillel Programming, designed to further enhance Jewish life on campus. Herb established the fund in memory of his father in 2000, the year of Herb’s 25th Reunion. Herb also continues to generously support both the Alumni Annual Fund and Hillel. His son, Larry, will graduate from the University next May.

“One of the values that I was brought up with was the importance of always giving back,” Herb said. “It is important to remember the individuals and institutions that helped you.”

Herb grew up just three miles away in Newton and could spy Usen Castle from his favorite childhood skating spot on the Charles River. As a young boy he accompanied his parents, Daniel and Lorraine, when they brought out-of-town visitors to campus to see “this great accomplishment of the Jewish people,” he recalled.

As a Brandeis student, Herb found the vibrant Jewish life he was seeking, both in and out of the classroom. While the depth and breadth of the courses in the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies (NEJS) exposed him to new perspectives and ways of thinking, Hillel supplemented his coursework by providing lively programming and engaging speakers.

He particularly enjoyed the NEJS courses taught by professors Nahum Sarna, P’75, and Michael Fishbane, PhD ’71. Professor Marshall Sklare served as Herb’s advisor for his senior honors thesis on a social history of the Jewish Catskills. He grew close with Rabbi Al Axelrad, Brandeis’ longtime Jewish chaplain and Hillel director.

“Rabbi Axelrad was what I could call a ‘Jewish impresario,’ ” Herb remembered. “He was very helpful as a mentor and thinking about Jewish things.”

Herb, a self-described “lover of reading and learning,” spent many hours in the Goldfarb Library. He learned that the Brandeis National Women’s Committee (now known as the Brandeis National Committee) had raised the money necessary to build the library and stock its shelves with books. “It was inspirational to me that these nice Jewish ladies provided us with such a wonderful library,” he said.

In recent years, Herb has served as a fundraising consultant to nonprofit organizations, including Hillel, Birthright Israel and the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education. He earlier worked as an executive with two Boston-area medical centers and several Jewish federations. A Reconstructionist rabbi by training, he holds a doctorate in theology from Boston University.