Celebrating Those Who Celebrate YU

Four Honorees Receive Awards at Inaugural Volunteer Appreciation Event

The enthusiasm and devotion of volunteers are often the elements that make the difference between a good and a great institution. On Tuesday, January 10, the offices of Alumni Affairs, Annual Giving, the Career Center and the President organized the inaugural Volunteer Appreciation Reception to celebrate some of the volunteers who have made Yeshiva University an exceptional institution.

Four people were given awards for their outstanding service as volunteers: Ben Blumenthal ’12SB, Relationship Builder of the Year; Benjamin Kohane ’15YC, Recent Alumni Volunteer Award; Adam Lauer ’08SB, Alumni Partner Award; and Dina Sterman ’84YUHS, Community Leadership Award.

Four Volunteers: Ben Blumenthal, Ben Kohane, Adam Lauer, Dina Sterman

In his opening remarks, President Richard M. Joel lauded the assembled volunteers for the work they have done to promote the University to the wider world. “It’s always hard to do lay leadership in a university,” he noted, “but tonight we honor alumni who, in addition to being wonderful alumni, step forward and say, ‘I can matter in this institution.’”

Suzy Schwartz, assistant vice president for alumni affairs and strategic development, seconded President Joel’s admiration for the volunteers.  “The impetus for the event,” she explained, “came from the fact that we have so many wonderful people doing such wonderful work. But we all don’t know one another and we felt it important to acknowledge you because you are giving back so much and represent the very best of YU.”

The awards were presented by Marc Goldman, executive director of the Career Center; Susan Bauer, director of employee and alumni relations in the Career Center; and Alan Secter, executive director for annual giving and major gifts.

In their remarks, the awardees articulated several common themes about why they do their work: the dynamism of YU graduates, the importance of YU to Modern Orthodoxy and the Jewish world, and the positive effects of a devoted lay leadership committed to giving back.

Lauer, a director at Credit Suisse, praised the alumni network’s “natural cohesiveness,” joking that “all you need to do is spend a weekend in Teaneck to see it action.” Sterman, who is also an active volunteer at the Young Israel of New Rochelle, saw YU as central to the Jewish world: “Much of our world is made up of YU grads – every school has teachers from YU, every principal is from YU, and people want rabbis from YU – and this makes it a privilege to do work on behalf of the University.”

Both Kohane, who works at BNY Mellon, and Blumenthal, managing director at Norman Bobrow and Co., drew upon the Torah to explain their motivations for giving back. “Like Joseph rising up through the ranks and pulling others along,” Kohane explained, “I’m going to reach out to those who need help and make sure they have the preparation they need as a way of thanking everyone who helped me.”

For his part, Blumenthal drew upon the teaching that every resource a person has been granted should be employed in repaying the help he or she has received. “If we as volunteers can open doors for the people doing the heavy lifting in the University to raise the resources,” he said, “then the success of Yeshiva University will ultimately mirror the input from the people in the grassroots, the foot soldiers, and bring back strong and renewed interest.”

Though none of the volunteers did what they did in the expectation of winning awards, it gave everyone involved great pleasure to acknowledge their contributions and hold them up as models of the positive impact alumni can have in strengthening their alma mater and helping students develop their careers.

To see a gallery of photos of the event, visit our Flickr page.

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