Sep 23, 2008 — Nearly 700 people attended Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) Annual Dinner of Tribute, held this evening at The Grand Hyatt in New York City. Rabbi Zevulun Charlop, dean emeritus of RIETS and special advisor to the President on Yeshiva Affairs, was honored for his extraordinary achievement in Torah learning and leadership over 35 years as the seminary’s dean.
Herbert Smilowitz and his son, Rabbi Mark Smilowitz, were the inaugural America/Israel Dor L’Dor [generation to generation] Award recipients. RIETS also paid recognition to members of its tenth, twenty-fifth, and fiftieth anniversary classes (1958, 1983, and 1998). More than $1 million was raised for the Seminary.
The evening was marked by warm tributes and a celebration of RIETS. In recognizing Rabbi Charlop, Yeshiva University President Richard M. Joel said, “You have raised all of us to be your wonderful family, and you’ve done it just by being Rabbi Zevulun Charlop.”
“He has set the pattern for the needs, and for filling the needs, of the modern rabbi in the modern community,” said Rabbi Julius Berman, chairman of the board of trustees of RIETS.
“Rabbi Charlop has left us with a legacy of excellence, a legacy of integrity, a legacy of erudition, a legacy of honor, and a legacy of kindness and compassion and sensitivity towards all students,” said Rabbi Yona Reiss, who succeeded Rabbi Charlop this year as Max and Marion Grill Dean of RIETS.
“I wouldn’t be who I am without the support of Rabbi Charlop,” said Rabbi Reuven Brand, a RIETS alumnus who came to the dinner from Illinois, where he is rosh kollel of The Yeshiva University Torah Mitzion Kollel in Skokie. “There’s a magic in RIETS, and a magic in what we have in this room. Thank you, Rabbi Charlop, for helping us to share this magic with others.”
President Joel announced that a wing of the Jacob and Dreizel Glueck Center for Jewish Study – now under construction on YU’s Wilf Campus in Washington Heights – would be named for Rabbi Charlop, thanks to gifts from a group of YU supporters.
“The Smilowitz family has a deep and long-standing connection to RIETS,” said Dr. Norman Lamm, Chancellor of Yeshiva University. “Blessed is the father who has such a son, and blessed is the son who has such a father.” Dr. Lamm hailed Herbert Smilowitz as “a quiet giant,” and noted that Mark Smilowitz is “a superb politician – not in the vulgar sense of the word, but in the Arisotelian sense: he has an intuitive knowledge of human relationships.
Herbert Smilowitz, honored tonight as “a humble man of faith,” joined the RIETS Board of Trustees in 1994 and now serves as its vice chairman. He received the RIETS Eitz Chaim [Tree of Life] award in 2002. Mr. Smilowitz and his wife, Marilyn, are Benefactors of YU and reside in West Orange, NJ.
Rabbi Mark Smilowitz, who was cited for his rabbinic leadership and educational commitment, graduated from Yeshiva College in 1992 and earned his master’s degree from YU’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration. He received semikhah from RIETS in 2002. Rabbi Smilowitz resides in Beit Shemesh, Israel with his wife, Michelle, and four children.
Founded in 1896, RIETS is the leading center for education and ordination of Orthodox Rabbis in North America. For more information or to support RIETS, please call 212-960-0852 or visit www.riets.edu.
For over a century, RIETS has educated and trained the Rabbis who have shaped our Jewish world. Combining the highest levels of Torah learning in the legacy of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik zt”l, an unmatched program of professional preparation for the rabbinate, and an impassioned commitment to impact the Jewish community, RIETS continues to produce the finest rabbinic leadership for the next generation and beyond.