Yeshiva University News » 2010 » June » 01

Jun 1, 2010 — Addressing the more than 5,000 people in attendance at Yeshiva University’s 79th commencement, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael B. Oren declared that the bond between his country and the U.S., as well as between Israel and YU, is inextricable.

“Whenever difficult decisions had to be made and intrepid answers rendered, religious Zionists were ready,” said Oren. “And in America, no institution better represents this readiness, the commitment to combining Jewish and secular scholarship, the dedication to preserving Israel and defending its essential relationship with the United States, than this remarkable university.”

While Oren admitted that life after graduation would pose difficult challenges and questions, he told graduates that the decision to stand with or even move to Israel was something they would never be questioned about.

“Here, I know that you know the answer—intrinsically, intellectually, and spiritually. You have always known the answer….examine any facet of Israeli life—in governance, finance, academia, defense—and you will find Yeshiva graduates,” he said. “And little wonder. Every year, six hundred of you study in Israel under Yeshiva’s auspices, and fifteen percent of all of you receiving degrees today will make aliya, enriching and strengthening our State.”

With the same emphasis on preserving and expanding Jewish and Israeli heritage through a Yeshiva University education, President Richard M. Joel said to the graduating class, “Yeshiva University’s success lies not in what it can become, it rests in what you are. For you are the blossoming flower of our tomorrows, of your parents, your people, your loved ones, and your children.”

Oren was one of four notables in the Jewish community who received an honorary doctorate at commencement from YU President Richard M. Joel. The other recipients were Rabbi Moshe Gottesman, a respected Jewish educator who served as dean of Hebrew Academy of Nassau County (HANC) for 16 years; Alfred Henry Moses, a philanthropist, communal leader and former US ambassador to Romania, and Zygmunt Wilf, Yeshiva University trustee and chairman of the Minnesota Vikings.

Dr. Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, professor of social medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and a renowned researcher, was awarded the Presidential Medallion in recognition of her groundbreaking work in medicine.
The commencement honored undergraduate students from Yeshiva College, Stern College for Women and Sy Syms School of Business. Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, whose daughter received a bachelor’s degree from Stern College, delivered the invocation.

“This unique university has educated these graduates so well in timeless values of Torah Judaism, the thrilling opportunities of a modern secular knowledge and the ways in which these two streams can be combined,” said Lieberman.
Fay Burekhovich, valedictorian of Stern College spoke of the way that Yeshiva University had provided countless opportunities for students to showcase their talents and to go out as leaders of their nation, while her closing remarks echoed Ambassador Oren’s call for Jews to come together as one nation, no matter where they are.

“Too many categories serve to separate us; instead, we need bridges that bring us together, irrespective of where we originated, how we conduct ourselves religiously, or even how we act towards others,” she said. “We need unity not because of our similarities, but so that we can appreciate our differences with greater clarity, so that we recognize the inherent beauty in having so many different types of Jews working together for the sake of the common good.”

In all, more than 2,000 graduate students in the fields of law, medicine, social work, education, Jewish studies and psychology, as well as undergraduate students from Yeshiva College, Stern College for Women and Sy Syms School of Business, are being awarded degrees this commencement season.


Jun 1, 2010 — Alfred H. Moses, a philanthropist, communal leader and former U.S. ambassador to Romania from Washington D.C., was presented with an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Yeshiva University. YU President Richard M. Joel bestowed this honor upon Moses at YU’s 79th Commencement ceremony held Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

In conferring the degree upon Moses, President Richard M. Joel said, “Mi Moshe ad Moshe lo haya k’Moshe. Between Moses the lawgiver and Moses Maimonides, there was no one else like Moses. Today we honor our own Moses, who shares with his namesakes a commitment to law and Jewish life, wisdom and Jewish thought.”

Moses is currently senior counsel with the law firm of Covington & Burlington. He was previously a partner from 1965-1994 and 1997-1999. He is also currently co-founder, senior partner and chief operating officer of Promontory Financial Group, LLC and affiliates. The firm provides consulting services to financial companies.

Moses has had a distinguished career in public service spanning more than three decades. He served as special advisor and special counsel to President Carter, and in 1994, President Clinton appointed him Ambassador to Romania where he served for three years. In the 1970s, he represented the organized Jewish community in Romania in negotiations with the Ceausescu regime to facilitate the emigration of Romanian Jews to Israel. He has lectured extensively on European and Middle East issues with articles appearing in prestigious publications such as The New York Times, Washington Post and Jerusalem Post.

The recipient of many awards, Moses received the Marc Cruce Medal, Romania; the Pentru Merit Award, Romania; and the Frizis Award from the National Coordinated Effort of Helenes. Ambassador Moses was elected four times as national president of The American Jewish Committee – the longest serving president in more than three decades. He has held numerous other leadership positions, including former president and current chairman of the Centennial Committee and Advisory Council; Hebrew College, chairman of the National Board; Project on Ethnic Relations, chairman; Council on Foreign Relations, member; Jewish Publication Society, former director; Haifa University, former director; Golda Meir Association, former national chairman; and Georgetown University, former Board of Regents member.

Moses has created a philanthropic fund to support Yeshiva University’s Fund for Women’s Leadership and a Fellowship Fund at Stern College for Women.