Dr. Ben Chouake, Norman Sternthal, Mark Wilf and Rabbi Dr. Herbert Dobrinsky to be Honored at YU’s 91st Hanukkah Convocation
The Honorable Governor Andrew M. Cuomo will be the keynote speaker and receive an honorary degree at Yeshiva University’s 91st Annual Hanukkah Convocation and Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City on Sunday, December 13, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. YU President Richard M. Joel will confer honorary degrees upon Dr. Ben Chouake of Englewood, New Jersey; Norman Sternthal of Montreal, Quebec; and Mark Wilf of Livingston, New Jersey. President Joel will also honor Rabbi Dr. Herbert Dobrinsky, of Riverdale, New York, with the Presidential Medallion.
“We are thrilled to confer the University’s highest tribute on this year’s group of honorees who exemplify and are a wonderful reflection of many of our own values,” said President Joel. “In addition to his own merit, we take particular pride in honoring Governor Andrew Cuomo with the same degree that my predecessor, President Lamm, conferred upon his father, the late Governor Mario Cuomo, in 1983.”
The annual Hanukkah Convocation and Dinner draws nearly one thousand of the country’s leading Jewish philanthropists and community leaders. Past speakers at the black tie gala have included former President George W. Bush, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; former Secretary of State and then-Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Vice President Al Gore and Senator John McCain.
Andrew M. Cuomo, re-elected the 56th Governor of New York State in 2014, has a lifelong commitment to public service and the proven leadership skills to make government work for the people of the state. Prior to his election as governor, Cuomo served four years as New York’s attorney general. As U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary, Cuomo made fighting racial discrimination a key focus and brought 2,000 anti-discrimination cases all across the country, earning the department the prestigious “Innovations in American Government Award” from the Ford Foundation and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University on three different occasions.
Dr. Benjamin Chouake, the national president of NORPAC, the nation’s largest pro-Israel political action committee, first became involved with Yeshiva University when his son, Jason ’07YC, attended Yeshiva College. Chouake is a board member of both Yeshiva College and the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. He and his wife, Esther, established the Esther and Ben Chouake Scholarship at Yeshiva College in 2003. In addition to his roles at YU and NORPAC, Chouake also sits on the boards of Touro College, New York Medical College, the Orthodox Union, the Frisch School, and the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey, and he serves as vice president of the Zionist Organization of America, and as the secretary of the American Jewish Congress.
Norman Sternthal, an active member of Montreal’s Jewish community, serves as a member of the Yeshiva College Board of Directors and director of the Canadian Friends of Yeshiva University. He is co-founder of Groupe Fairway, a Montreal-based real estate and development firm. Together with his wife, Johanne—a renowned theatrical producer, author and philanthropist—they established the Johanne and Norman Sternthal Foundation in Montreal to support Jewish agencies, human services and education and the Joel and Sarah Sternthal Rabbinic Fellowship. The Sternthals recently made a benefactor-level gift to Yeshiva University–affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) to support a special training initiative for pulpit rabbis, known as the Norman and Johanne Sternthal Halakhah L’Maaseh Program.
Mark Wilf, co-owner and president of the Minnesota Vikings football team, serves on Yeshiva University’s Board of Trustees. His support of YU is not just a personal cause but also a family legacy. As the son of Joseph and Elizabeth Wilf, and the nephew of Harry z”l and Judith Wilf z”l, Wilf was born and raised in one of YU’s “first families,” a birthright to which he and his wife, Jane Frieder, have proudly adhered and instilled in their four children. Wilf serves as a principal of Garden Homes Development, a family-owned real estate business founded by Joseph and Harry in 1954. He is a YU benefactor and serves as a member of the Yeshiva University Institutional Advancement Committee.
Rabbi Dr. Herbert C. Dobrinsky ’50YUHS, ’54YC, ’57R, ’80F began his Yeshiva University career in 1962 at RIETS, first serving as assistant director and then as associate director of the Max Stern Division of Communal Services. In 1973, he was named executive assistant to then YU president Dr. Samuel Belkin, and later to Dr. Norman Lamm, YU’s third president, who named Dobrinsky vice president for university affairs in 1981. He is co-founder of the Sephardic Studies Program and the Sephardic Community Activities Program and established the Sephardic Council of Overseers. In 2010, he received the Harav Yosef Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik zt”l Aluf Torah Award at the RIETS Chag HaSemikha Convocation. During his 53 years of service to the University, he has played a major role in the establishment of 38 professorial chairs and has secured hundreds of scholarships throughout the United States, Canada and abroad, for all of YU’s high schools and undergraduate and graduate schools.
To learn more about the Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation or to participate in the Scroll of Honor, please visit www.yu.edu/hanukkah.