Senator Gillibrand Keynotes Hanukkah Convocation; Philip Friedman, Ira Mitzner and Stephen Siegel Honored
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand delivered the keynote address at Yeshiva University’s 87th Annual Hanukkah Convocation and Dinner on Sunday, December 11 at The Waldorf=Astoria in New York City. YU President Richard M. Joel bestowed an honorary doctorate upon Gillibrand, describing her as “a voice for vulnerable citizens” and her career as one in which “fervor for family fuels [her] political passions.” The New York senator is best known for her plans to help struggling working families, rebuilding the economy by creating jobs, championing higher education, strengthening America’s armed services and fighting against childhood obesity.
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“Whatever issue you bring, you bring from principle, not partisanship or ideology,” said President Joel. “You devote your professional career to opening the eyes of so many who don’t want to see.”
In her convocation address, a heartfelt message replete with both personal anecdotes and political aspirations, Gillibrand praised Yeshiva University for ingraining in all its students a defining mantra of giving and leadership, and inspiring students to reach out and make a difference in the lives of others all over the world.
“I am most grateful for the leadership taught here at Yeshiva University… a quality education built on a foundation of faith and values,” said Gillibrand. “When times are dark and unstable, this leadership is seen in its greatest light and we need to share these opportunities for vision and commitment.”
At the convocation, President Joel also conferred honorary degrees upon technology executive Philip Friedman, a member of YU’s Board of Trustees since 2009 and a former board member of YU’s SYMS School of Business; real estate developer Ira Mitzner, a trustee of YU since 2007 who established the David Mitzner Deanship of the CJF; and commercial real estate executive Stephen B. Siegel, a 25-year board member at YU’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
“These recipients of honorary degrees are a shining light on YU and the world, and their lights are life lessons to our students and to all of us,” said President Joel. “Tonight, we celebrate the successes of an amazing, noble enterprise, and resolve to keep it strong and sacred.
“Like the ancient Maccabees, and the YU Maccabeats, we reaffirm our commitment to life and values, to success and purpose, to faith and freedom, to teach and to touch, to rights and responsibilities,” he said. “Yeshiva teaches its students to dream and to achieve. The Jewish people, the United States, Israel, indeed the whole world, needs to reignite the passion of purpose, the belief in ideas, the access to achievement and the possibilities of tomorrow.”
During the dinner portion, President Joel also recognized eight Points of Lights—people who exemplify the mission of Yeshiva University—calling each one up to light a symbolic candle on the menorah. Read more about the Points of Light here.