May 30, 2007 — At a ceremony that was at once intimate and momentous, Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration, held its first commencement exercises May 29.
Attended by degree recipients, family, friends, faculty, and administration, there was a palpable feeling that the participants were part of a large family celebration. The speakers addressed the pivotal role that Jewish education plays in the intricate fabric that is today’s Jewish community.
In an address to the enthusiastic gathering, YU President Richard M. Joel said, “The task of education is vast and we invest in it because our community will be led by nothing but the best.” President Joel went on to say, “I have many hopes for the world that my children and grandchildren will inhabit, and none of them can be fulfilled by me. They will be fulfilled by you.”
Of the degree recipients, six were awarded Doctor of Education degrees, six were awarded a Specialist’s Certificate in Education and 69 were awarded a Master of Science degree.
Dr. Scott J. Goldberg, director of the Fanya Gottesfeld Heller Division of Doctoral Studies at Azrieli, told the gathering that it was only a year ago that they were challenged to increase the numbers of doctoral students. Now, just a year later, those efforts have borne fruit that exceeds expectations not only in numbers, but in the quality of the applicants.
Azrieli Graduate School was established in 1983 in recognition of a major gift by the Montreal architect-builder and communal leader, David J. Azrieli. Since its founding, Azrieli has been a premier international center for the training of Jewish educators. Students come from every part of the United States, as well as Canada, Israel, and Europe Azrieli alumni serve at the helm of schools, educational agencies, universities, and communal institutions all over the world.
Dr. David Schnall, the school’s dean, spoke about the moral commitment and dedication that it takes to pursue a career in education in the face of more lucrative careers in such fields as medicine, law, and finance.
“All of you could have conquered any field of endeavor with ease,” he said, “and you chose another, more important path. Studies have shown overwhelmingly that the key to Jewish identity in the next generation is the Jewish day school.”
Azrieli’s mission is to train a cadre of Torah educators who will relay the rich knowledge and traditions of the Jewish heritage with warmth, joy, and intelligence. Its student body includes teachers and administrators, regardless of institutional or denominational affiliation, who seek to enhance their skills, and competencies while earning an advanced degree in Jewish education.