Jul 24, 2007 — It is with deep sorrow that the Yeshiva University community mourns Dr. Lana Schwebel, dear friend, colleague and spirited teacher, who died on July 7, two days after an automobile accident while traveling with a group of tourists along the shores of Lake Baikal in southern Siberia.
“Dr. Schwebel was a natural for Stern College,” says Karen Bacon, PhD, The Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean of Stern. “Her intelligence and zest for life, her commitment to Torah Judaism, and her honest approach to her academic discipline were reflections of our mission as a college and of our aspirations for our students. She was admired and beloved for so many reasons.”
Formerly an assistant professor of religion and literature at the Institute of Sacred Music and Yale Divinity School, Dr. Schwebel had been an assistant professor of English at Stern College since 2006. She is survived by her parents, Philip and Lilly Schwebel, and her sisters Elizabeth Wind (and Shalom) and Pamela Swickley (and Gary).
Ann Peters, a colleague of Dr. Schwebel’s in the English Department, says of her late friend and fellow teacher: “She was not only an expert on literature, but on dance, theater, New York restaurants, modern art, China, obscure Russian orthodox religious practices—really, there seemed to be nothing she hadn’t explored. Yet, she never passed on information in a way that made you feel she was showing off. Her teaching came out of a generous need to communicate.”
Another colleague, Dr. Laurel Hatvary, describes Dr. Schwebel as “brilliant, funny, loving, creative, deeply spiritual, thoughtful, and always curious.”
“She was thirsty for life,” Dr. Hatvary says, “for new experiences, new people, new landscapes. She wanted to encompass the world. Iceland and China last year—Siberia this. Wherever there was new life, she drank it in and felt it through.”
Dr. Schwebel, who held a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA from Barnard, taught Survey of English Literature, Love and War in Medieval Romance, Elementary Latin, Women in Medieval Literature and Masterpieces of World Literature. Dean Ethel Orlian remembers Dr. Schwebel, as “a witty, vivacious, adventurous young woman who made the literature come alive.”
Stern College student Tikva Hecht says that taking a course with Dr. Schwebel “was a life-changing experience.”
Sadly, as Dean Bacon says, “We do not have adequate words or understanding to explain her death.”
But she reminds us, “We do have the collective will to remember her always.”