86th Annual Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation

Newark Mayor Cory Booker Delivers Keynote Address, Record $4.1 Million Raised

Cory A. Booker, mayor of Newark, NJ, delivered the keynote address at Yeshiva University’s (YU) 86th Annual Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation at The Waldorf=Astoria in New York City on December 12. The mayor implored members of the audience, and the Jewish community at large, to be true to themselves, to their faith and to their heritage.

“This world needs Jews who are manifesting the truth of who they are, who recognize that yes, there is a ‘chosen-ness’ in Judaism but it necessitates in the individual making a choice.”

In an address replete with references to Jewish history and the Torah that brimmed with humor, warmth and wisdom, Mayor Booker sought to outline exactly what that choice means.

“We are in a world that cries out for redemption; there is pain and suffering all around us. Why am I so drawn to Judaism? Because this world needs people who will choose to live those values, instill them in their hearts and manifest them in their actions.”

Recently re-elected as Newark’s mayor with a clear mandate for change, Mayor Booker understands the importance of working with and depending on others.  He noted that his bold vision for Newark could not have been set into motion without vital outside help and cooperation. And he sees in YU opportunities for cooperation and unity and restorative hope that must continue to be carried out.

“We are sitting here in homage not to individuals but to a tradition at a university that at its very core is that mission. Why I am so honored to be here, why I feel the gravity of the gift of kindness that you all have shown me, is because this university is answering that call.”

President Richard M. Joel conferred the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree on Mayor Booker, and honorary degrees were also awarded to Emanuel Gruss, a prominent investment executive and philanthropist, and Benefactor and honorary trustee of Yeshiva University; business executive Arthur N. Hershaft, a Benefactor and member of the Board of Overseers of YU’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine; attorney and community leader Murray Laulicht, a YU alumnus and Benefactor and member of the Board of Overseers of the University’s Stern College for Women; and philanthropist and civic leader Laurie M. Tisch, a Benefactor and significant supporter of YU’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

The convocation and dinner, the University’s main annual fundraising event, raised a record $4.1 million this year.

Echoing the words of Mayor Booker, President Joel summed up the evening with these words: “Nights like tonight are so important for those of us who dream about the Jewish future. We must continue working with other people of goodwill to advance civilization; that’s our sacred mission, and that’s what we are celebrating tonight and what we will continue to celebrate in the days and months and years to come.”

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