Rabbi Charles Sheer

Director/Jewish Chaplain Emeritus, Columbia University and Barnard College, New York, NY

Mar 17, 2014

Charles Sheer served as Jewish Chaplain at Columbia University for thirty-four years. Under his leadership, Columbia/Barnard Hillel became one of the largest and most active Hillels in the country, with over 55 student groups and projects. It won many awards from Hillel and Columbia for outstanding programming. He oversaw a $13 million capital campaign and the creation of the six-story Robert K. Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life, dedicated in 2000. As Hillel Director, he was responsible for the management of the Center, with a budget of $1.6 million and an 18 person staff.

Rabbi Sheer has played many leadership roles on campus and in the broader Jewish community. He lectures on topics ranging from Jewish texts and thought, university life, Israel and the interface between Jewish Tradition and modernity, and was Professor of Jewish Studies (adjunct) at CCNY. Throughout his career he has taught the values of Modern Orthodoxy and a pluralistic approach to Jewish living. He was honored by Yeshiva College with the Revel Memorial Award (1994) for outstanding leadership in Religion and Religious Education, and by Columbia (1989) for his service to the University.

Rabbi Sheer was ordained at Yeshiva University in 1967. He had the privilege of studying under Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik and was a Kollel Fellow for advanced Talmud study for three years. He received his MA (1967) in Talmudic Literature from the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies at YU, and was awarded a Gottesman Fellowship for three years during his graduate studies. He received his BA from Yeshiva College (1965), was on Dean’s List and won graduation awards for excellence in history, Talmud, personal character, and service keys from the College and the Yeshiva.

After his ordination he served as Associate Rabbi at the Riverdale Jewish Center under Rabbi Irving Greenberg. During those years he was a Fellow at Yeshiva University in a research program headed by Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein.

Rabbi Sheer served on the executive boards of the Rabbinic Alumni of Yeshiva University and the Rabbinical Council of America; he is on the Advisory Council of Edah. He serves on the boards of SAR Academy and Riverdale Jewish Center, and has served on various commissions of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies. During his student days at Yeshiva University he was one of the founders of the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry. He later served on the boards of the Greater New York Council for Soviet Jewry and the National Conference on Soviet Jewry.

Rabbi Sheer lives in Riverdale with his wife, Judy Adler Sheer, and has three children – two of whom live in Israel - and ten grandchildren. In addition to Jewish study — his central passion — he is a serious classical music lover, enjoys fitness, playing the accordion and has a strong interest in the environment and nature.