Naomi Azrieli’s Powerful Tribute to Yeshiva University

On Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, at the 95th Annual Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation, Dr. Naomi Azrieli, Chairman and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation, announced an $18 million donation to the University. This is one of the largest gifts focused on Jewish education that Yeshiva University has received and will provide continued support of the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration as well as strengthen undergraduate scholarships.

Watch Naomi Azrieli’s moving tribute to Yeshiva University and the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration.

Hear Naomi Azrieli’s Powerful Tribute

Read the Transcript

My dear friends, you’ve heard Rabbi Berman speak – we are living in a period unlike anything the world has seen before. Technology, education, health, social habits, eating habits—there is hardly anything in life that has not and is not shifting around us, and at a pace and complexity that was absolutely inconceivable only a few years ago.

Embracing this change and bringing our Jewish traditions and values to it, to understand it, make it meaningful, more humane and align it with our core values, is a key imperative of our time.

And this brings to me to where I am right now, to Yeshiva University, right here, right now, on the eve of 2020. YU is at a critical moment in its history, as the world’s premiere Jewish institution for higher learning, and a critical moment in the history of the Jewish community and the Jewish world. And YU is uniquely positioned to lead at this inflection point by renewing its commitment to be forward-thinking and deeply rooted in Jewish values, embracing and preparing for the changed and changing world we’re in while bringing to bear the brilliance and wisdom of our tradition.

This 133-year-old institution is wisely developing an educational model that is and will better prepare students for success in this new era by putting special emphasis on science and technology as well as innovation and entrepreneurship, equipping its graduates to have impact in whatever they choose to do. By rooting their education in Judaism, teaching the values of tikkun olam, chesed, tzedakah and Torah, and by encouraging critical thinking in all fields, from Talmud to computer science to psychology, students gain the tools to ask necessary and difficult questions, to listen for and find answers, however complex they may be, so that they are prepared to be leaders once they leave YU.

This vision for YU in the 21st century resonated deeply with us. And having told you about my father and about my family and the work of our foundation, I am sure you can see why it resonated deeply. And this vision is the reason that tonight, I’m pleased to announce that the Azrieli Foundation is donating $18 million to Yeshiva University. [Applause, standing ovation]

This donation will provide scholarships to undergraduates, to provide scholarships to the Azrieli School of Jewish Education and to build the School’s endowment. Thirty-six years after our first donation to establish the School, it is with optimism and with joy that we make this further investment and with the conviction that the School and the University has the resilience to meet all the challenges ahead and to thrive for many years to come.