Congratulations, Graduates!

Class of 2013 Celebrates at  Yeshiva University’s 82nd Commencement

More than 600 students from Yeshiva University’s undergraduate schools were presented with their degrees at YU’s 82nd commencement exercises, held at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, NJ on May 30.

Excitement for the future was in the air as students and their families hugged and snapped pictures outside the crowded box office area. Miriam Barth, who received a degree in political science and Judaic studies and will begin graduate work at YU’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work this summer, decorated her cap with the words ‘Woohoo 2013!’. “It’s exciting and wonderful to spend the day with your family and the friends who have been with you your whole college career,” she said. “I’m very thankful to my parents and all my professors for the opportunities I had at YU, in academics and in student life.”

Zev Delott had two graduations to celebrate—his own and that of his wife, Erica Hasten. Their relationship developed while they were both students at YU and the two planned their academic schedules so they could graduate together. “It’s going to be surreal hearing our names called,” said Delott, who will pursue a career in marketing at a collection agency while Hasten begins her PhD studies at YU’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the fall. “This is a moment I’ve anticipated for so long.”

A shared sense of purpose and empowerment was an essential theme of the day’s celebration.

“Your experience at Yeshiva has been exciting, varied, formative and informative in magnificent ways,” YU President Richard M. Joel told the new graduates. “But as you look back now, realize that you’ve done something else—you’ve lit a candle. You’ve spun your own unique wicks from a variety of threads, ancient and modern all bound up in one, one informing the other, and both ignited by your drive to matter in the world and to make a difference.”

In his keynote address to the Class of 2013, Rabbi Joshua Fass—a proud alumnus of YU’s Marsha Stern Talmudical AcademyYeshiva College, Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, and Azrieli Graduate School for Jewish Education and Administration—reflected on the way his own YU education had equipped him to pursue his difficult but world-changing vision as co-founder and executive director of Nefesh B’Nefesh, an organization that has helped more than 36,000 Western olim [immigrants] actualize their dream of settling in Israel.

“Heroically and astonishingly, YU transmits a unique and noble approach, a derekh ha-chayim [way of life], a mesorah [tradition] that resonates this extraordinary synergy,” he said. “We have been taught to open our eyes and see the myriad number of concerns that need to be addressed and repaired in our community and beyond, to have the fortitude and courage to make those changes, while being grounded securely in Torah and halakha [Jewish law].”

Urging the new alumni to remain engaged and active as members of the Jewish community andstaunch advocates of the State of Israel, Fass added, “As YU graduates, you are uniquely positioned to make a difference—you have the talent, conviction, passion and ideological drive to script the future story of our people.”

President Joel conferred an honorary degree upon Fass, as well as on Tony B. Gelbart, co-founder and chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh and a serial entrepreneur who serves as a member of the nationalboard of directors and adviser to the president of the Jewish National Fund; businessman and philanthropist Abraham Naymark, whose contributions to YU include the establishment of the Naymark Scholarship Fund at the Sy Syms School of Business; and Merryl H. Tisch, chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents and chairwoman of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty.

Meirah Shedlo, valedictorian of Stern College for Women, echoed the message of engagement and responsibility in her remarks to her classmates. “As we, the Class of 2013, depart from the house of learning that is Yeshiva University, we have been charged with the mission of using our personal development in service of our communities,” she said. “At YU, we’ve had the opportunity to gain a stellar education and achieve a high level of accomplishment in our respective fields. Now we’re all starting on new paths that will build upon the ideas, challenges and triumphs we have encountered here.”

Dr. Mark Skier ’83YUHSB, ’87YC and ’91E, flew in from Milwaukee, WI to watch his son Rafi graduate Yeshiva College. “I’ve been a member of the YU family for a long time and when the time came to send our kids to college, we didn’t look anywhere else,” he said. “Where else could my son earn a world-respected education in a top-level academic environment, surrounded by other religious Jews, minyanim and Torah learning? I’m excited for the opportunities and mentorship he’s had here and I know they could only have happened at YU.”

To Alexa Rosenberg, who received a degree in linguistics and plans to pursue a career in government, the most important part of the day was that her father, Bill, got to see her graduate. “It’s a big accomplishment,” she said. “My dad put a lot of time and effort into helping me succeed in my college career and I’m excited to make him proud today.”

The reunion classes of 1963, 1973 and 1988 were recognized at the graduation ceremony for their 50th, 40th and 25th reunions, while in all, more than1,400 undergraduate students from Yeshiva College, Stern College for Women and Sy Syms School of Business, as well as graduate students in the fields of law, medicine, social work, education, Jewish studies and psychology, were awarded degrees from YU during its commencement season.

Phyllis Siegel ’63S couldn’t wait to watch her granddaughter, Lauren Berger, march down the aisle. “I’m very proud that she chose to attend Stern because YU serves a very important mission in the Orthodox world; it enables students to learn in an environment that supports Jewish values academically and professionally,” she said. “YU creates a sense of a greater family and community.”

In addition to celebrating Berger’s graduation, Siegel was excited to meet up with former classmates at her 50th class reunion. “It will be wonderful to see old roommates and friends again.”

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