Apr 30, 2009 — Prof. David Shatz, professor of philosophy at Yeshiva University’s (YU) Stern College for Women, will deliver the keynote address at YU’s 78th commencement ceremony at Madison Square Garden’s WaMu Theater in New York City on Thursday, May 14 at 11 am. Prof. Shatz, editor of The Torah u-Madda Journal and series editor of MeOtzar HoRav: Selected Essays of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, will receive the YU presidential medallion, the highest honor bestowed on a member of the faculty or administration for excellent service.
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, will be awarded degrees.
After graduating as valedictorian of his class at Yeshiva College in 1969, Prof. Shatz was ordained at YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and earned his Ph. D. with distinction in general philosophy from Columbia University. He has edited or authored twelve books and has published over sixty articles and reviews, dealing with both general and Jewish philosophy. His work in general philosophy focuses on the theory of knowledge, free will, ethics, and the philosophy of religion, while his work in Jewish philosophy focuses on Jewish ethics, Maimonides, Torah and science, and 20th century rabbinic figures. Prof. Shatz has been chosen five times as outstanding professor by the senior class of Stern College for Women.
Each year, YU confers honorary doctorates upon individuals who have exemplified true leadership and philanthropic values. This year President Joel will confer honorary degrees upon Rabbi Dr. Jacob Haberman; Sylvia Axelrod Herskowitz, former director of the YU Museum; Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld of Young Israel of Kew Garden Hills, New York; and Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator and star of the Broadway hit, In the Heights.
A 1950 graduate of Yeshiva College, Rabbi Dr. Jacob Haberman is an attorney who specializes in real estate. After receiving his ordination from RIETS in 1954, Rabbi Haberman went on to obtain a Ph.D. from Columbia University and a J.D. degree from New York Law School. In 1966, he formed Haberman & Haberman, a real estate ownership and management company, in 1966. He has been joined in the business by his sons, Brook YUHS ’79 and Sinclair.
Rabbi Haberman has served as rabbi of Congregation Torei Zohov. He is a member of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCS) and his publications include The Microcosm (1954) and Maimonides and Aquinas: a Contemporary Appraisal (1979).
On February 1, 2009, Sylvia Axelrod Herskowitz retired as director of the Yeshiva University Museum, a position she held since 1976. Ms. Herskowitz saw the nascent museum as partner of the University, and – working closely with philanthropist and benefactor Erica Jesselson – she gave it a special identity, shaping it as a teaching museum that would collect, interpret and exhibit the art, artifacts and material culture of Jews the world over.
Mrs. Herskowitz recognized the importance of offering contemporary artists grappling with Jewish themes a venue where they could show their work and communicate their ideas to the visiting public. Over the years the YU Museum has become a magnet for Jewish artists from New York, Israel and around the world.
Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld, recipient of the Orthodox Union’s National Rabbinic Centennial Medallion Award, serves as rabbi of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, New York—a position he has held with distinction for 54 years. Rabbi Schonfeld graduated from the University of London and received his ordination from RIETS in 1952.
He serves as president of Poalei Agudath Israel of America, and is a former president of the RCA and past chairman of the Council of Young Israel Rabbis. Rabbi Schonfeld is also the founder of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens.
Gifted young playwright, Lin-Manuel Miranda, is the creator of the phenomenally successful musical, In the Heights. Mr. Miranda composed its score and starred in the hit play, both on and off-Broadway. Born and raised in a close-knit Puerto Rican family in Washington Heights, he captured and celebrated the vibrancy and diversity of the neighborhood that is also home to YU’s Wilf campus.
Mr. Miranda conceived of In the Heights in 1999, during his sophomore year at Wesleyan University. In 2008 the play was honored with four Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score. At the February 2009 Grammy Awards, it won the award for Best Musical Show album.
Awarding an honorary degree to Mr. Miranda gives YU the opportunity both to recognize a prodigiously talented young man at a peak moment of accomplishment, and to connect with the neighborhood it calls home.