In Memoriam: Marcel Perlman – Yeshiva University News

Dr. Marcel Perlman

Yeshiva University mourns the passing of Dr. Marcel I. Perlman. He was a beloved educator at Yeshiva University, guiding generations of YU students through the study of psychology, and a proud alumnus of the University, where he earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate. degrees.

Born in 1934 in Prague, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic), and named by his mother after the writer Marcel Proust, he arrived in the United States with his family in 1939 at the age of four. The Perlmans made their way from Brighton Beach to Borough Park, from Washington Heights to Mount Vernon, where he spent most of his childhood. At the age of 18, he crossed the border from Westchester to New York to begin his college career at New York University, attracted by an accelerated academic program they offered. “But I found NYU to be too big and impersonal for me,” he observed. “So in my sophomore year, I signed up for Yeshiva Collegeand I have never regretted that decision.

Perlman decided to stay with the YU family and continued his studies in what would later become the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. He earned an M.A. and Ph.D., and in doing so, unexpectedly discovered that he loved teaching. As a third-year student, he was working as a teaching assistant when the instructor, Boris Levinson, suffered a sudden heart attack. The then Dean asked Perlman to teach the rest of the class: “I was scared to death but found out I really liked it.”

He became a full-time faculty member in 1958 and has taught at YU ever since, in part because of a very important discussion he had with Dr. Samuel Belkin, YU’s second president. “Twenty years into my teaching career,” he recalls, “I was offered a professional opportunity to start a new program at a major hospital, but that would have meant leaving YU.” He couldn’t decide whether to stay or go, so he arranged to discuss the matter with Dr. Belkin, a man he deeply admired.

After stating the facts, “Dr. Belkin looked at me and said, ‘Perlman, where are you going? You have a house here. And he was absolutely right: I had a house in YU. And so, I stayed and never looked back.

He retired from teaching in 2017, although he continued to maintain his private practice in midtown Manhattan until shortly before his death.

in memory of the late marcel perlman
Dr. Perlman in his teacher element

In an interview with him upon his retirement, Dr. Perlman noted that “Right now, psychology is an exciting field, and it’s this excitement that I try to convey to my students in every class that I teach. .

In fact, Perlman felt that his true legacy at YU was the students who became professionals in the discipline “because of something they heard or something they experienced while being in my classes or discussing things with me”.

“I’m so happy when my former students tell me, ‘I’m in this business because of you, because you made us think,‘” he said. For Perlman, it didn’t matter whether they became psychologists, psychiatrists or social workers. “I’m agnostic about discipline,” he said. “What’s important is that people improve the whole field of mental health and all its clinical aspects, and I am happy that my students can participate in this work.This is my tangible legacy.

While at YU, Perlman taught classes on every campus, mentored and supervised hundreds of students, and served on several committees, including the research committee that originally brought in Dr. Karen Bacon, Mordecai D .and Monique C. Katz Dean of the Faculty of Undergraduate Arts and Sciences, at the University as Dean of Stern College for Women, an achievement he felt very happy about. “I’m very proud of Dean Bacon,” he said at the time. “She’s what I would call ‘quietly strong.'”

“There are only a few faculty members who, during their careers, are considered by their colleagues to be ‘old statesmen’, both knowledgeable and wise,” Dr. Bacon said. “Marcel Perlman falls into this category, and during his tenure at YU, he has earned a reputation as someone to turn to on issues large and small. ‘Colleague’, ‘friend’, ‘dedicated teacher and “faithful YU alumnus” are words that come to mind when I think back to the life and career of Dr. Perlman, a record to be applauded and admired, and I salute him.

As for his retirement, he said: “I don’t think it will be that different from what I do now. I will write, see my patients, teach. I am, and have been, a lucky man.

A celebration of his life is planned for the spring.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Guiding Eyes for the Blind at


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