By: Jonathan Levin  | 

Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand Secure $1.5 Million in Funds for Lamport Auditorium Renovations

New York Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand secured $1.5 million of federal funding for renovations of the Nathan Lamport Auditorium on Wilf Campus this December.

The funds are from an appropriations package included in the Fiscal Year 2023 omnibus bill and will be used to improve user experience and for renovations of historical parts of the room, which are beginning to deteriorate due to age.

“The project,” Jon Greenfield, YU’s director of government relations, told The Commentator, “is expected to include the installation of new air-conditioning, upgrades to lighting, acoustics and audiovisual capacity, and the restoration of the stained-glass windows and ceiling.”

The auditorium was built in 1928 and is housed in Zysman Hall, built in the same year and home to Yeshiva University High School for Boys and some Undergraduate Torah Studies shiurim. The auditorium’s architecture emphasizes the art deco style, popular in the 1920s, as well as the Moorish style, also popular in the ‘20s, to a lesser extent. This is the opposite of the facade of Zysman, which puts a greater emphasis on Moorish style than art deco style. The auditorium can seat nearly 1000 people.

The funding that Schumer and Gillibrand secured was included in the FY 2023 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill, which was signed into law as part of the FY 2023 federal omnibus bill by President Biden on Dec. 29. 

While it is not clear when the auditorium was last renovated, nearly everything inside, including the seating, chandeliers, and large clock, is original to its construction nearly a century ago. Recent renovations to Zysman in 2017 did not include the Lamport Auditorium.

The university has yet to announce when renovations are expected to begin, as the project is currently in its planning stages.

Both Gillibrand and Schumer told The Commentator that they were proud to get the funds for the renovations. 

“I’m proud to have brought Yeshiva University this investment that I fought hard to secure,” said Gillibrand. “These funds will help restore Yeshiva University’s Lamport Auditorium, which will allow the school to continue hosting premier cultural events for its students and the surrounding community as well as provide a critical gathering and activities space.”

Schumer told The Commentator that he felt similarly.

“I am proud to have secured this funding for Yeshiva University to modernize Lamport Auditorium with cutting-edge technology and restore its historic architecture," said Schumer. “Lamport Auditorium is a piece of New York’s Jewish history and its restoration and modernization will enable many more decades of hosting cultural figures, dignitaries and local community events important to the Washington Heights community. 

“I’ll continue fighting for the federal resources to support Yeshiva University, its faculty and staff, students and the broader community,” he added.

Yeshiva University is grateful for both senators’ support, Greenfield told The Commentator.

“We are thankful to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for their steadfast support in securing funding,” said Greenfield, “which will ensure this historic auditorium continues to serve as a gathering place for generations to come.” 

Lamport Hall, designed by architect Charles Meyers, has hosted many YU events over the years. Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Rosh Yeshiva of Rabbi Issac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) from 1941-’85, used to give a yearly speech in Lamport on his father’s yahrzeit, and the room was once used for YU’s undergraduate graduation ceremonies. YU has also hosted world leaders there, as well as Rep. Adriano Espaillat’s local swearing-in ceremony in 2017.

In the past year, the space has been used for university events like Stomp out the Stigma, graduation ceremonies for some of the institution’s graduate schools, an Israeli-Independence day ceremony and for the inaugural event of the Sacks-Herenstein Center.

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Photo Caption: The Nathan Lamport Auditorium on Wilf Campus will be renovated with a $1.5 million grant secured by Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand

Photo Credit: The Commentator