Mendel (Mendy) Friedman of West Rogers Park in Chicago was named 2013 valedictorian of Lander College for Men (LCM) and was one of the student speakers at the Lander College commencement at Avery Fisher Hall, held on May 26.
“Mendy is one of those rare, multitalented prodigies who will make his mark upon the world and whom we were privileged to educate,” said Dr. Moshe Sokol, dean of LCM “But perhaps as remarkable, given his gifts, is his character. He is modest, friendly, contributes his time to help other students, and is beloved by all.”
Graduating with a 4.0 GPA, Friedman was presented with the math award at commencement. In 2011 he received the highest score in New York in the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, widely considered the top university-level math competition in the world. With approximately 4,440 students from close to 600 colleges and universities in Canada and the U.S. participating in the Putnam, Friedman placed 22nd.
“I like to develop a lot of areas which I think help me as a thinker and a problem solver,” he told the New York Daily News last year, which, along with 24-hour news channel NY1, profiled Friedman for his performance in the competition and his decision to attend LCM over Ivy League colleges.
His star was already on the rise in high school, where Friedman was the grand prize winner in the National Kaplun Essay Writing Competition and a finalist in the U.S. Mathematical Olympiad. He was a National Merit Scholar and an Illinois State Scholar, scored a 36 out of a possible 36 composite score on the ACTs—one of only 69 perfect scores in the U.S. for that date—and a 2380 on his SATs.
Friedman is proficient in French, Hebrew, and Yiddish. When he was interested in reading the works of Russian writer Leo Tolstoy in its original form, he learned Russian, too. He is also a self-taught piano player.
In his commencement address, Friedman, who studied at Yeshivas Ohr Hachaim during the day and attended LCM for his college studies, thanked his rosh hayeshiva and Touro chancellor Rabbi Doniel Lander for demonstrating the importance of maximizing one’s potential. Friedman told his fellow graduates to learn from the example set by Rabbi Lander, as well as the faculty and staff of LCM.
“As we move on, whether to become doctors or lawyers, accountants, psychologists or actuaries, our mission is to always remain honest in our professions, to emulate the dedication displayed by our mentors here in the Touro community and most importantly, to never stop growing and learning,” he said.
Friedman graduated in January with a degree in mathematics and a minor in finance and is now spending a year studying at the Mirrer Yeshiva in Jerusalem. He is an editor of books in both Hebrew and English, including a recently published sefer on Hilchos Eiruvin, and he directed the editing of Yeshivas Ohr HaChaim’s Torah journal, Toras Chaim.
Established in the fall of 2000 and located in Queens, the Lander College for Men is grounded in a dual curriculum of intensive Torah study and a wide range of academic programs, and students major in professionally oriented disciplines. Lander College for Men provides students with an environment that produces ethical, mature, and well-rounded professionals committed to scholarship and career growth. Dedicated to Touro’s mission of perpetuating the Jewish heritage, Lander College for Men prepares students to uphold the ideals of Torah and pursue positions of professional and communal leadership.v