Dr. Naomi Azrieli, Chair and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation, announced a gift of $18 million to Yeshiva University at the 95th Annual Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation on December 8, 2019.
The gift will provide continued support of the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration as well as strengthen undergraduate scholarships. It is one of the largest gifts focused on Jewish education that Yeshiva University has received and stands to have lasting impact on generations of YU students.
The Azrieli Graduate School was established in 1983 by the Canadian builder and visionary businessman David J. Azrieli. Since opening 36 years ago, Azrieli has educated over 800 students from around the world. Every day, our graduates are teaching in hundreds of classrooms, camps and Jewish places of learning, helping to shape the next generation of students. They have a lasting impact on their students and infuse both passion and skill into their classrooms. Graduates have demonstrated leadership both in the classroom and through service to their communities and are shaping the landscape of Jewish education across the globe. This gift will help provide opportunities for undergraduates and graduates to receive a world-class education based in foundational Torah values and will enable faculty to continue innovating and enhancing programs.
“This historic gift to Jewish education and Jewish educators is transformative for the future of our communities,” said Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University. “The Azrieli family is the gold seal in philanthropy, and this gift reflects their true partnership and commitment to the essential work of Yeshiva University.”
The announcement was made at Yeshiva University’s 95th Annual Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation, which took place at the New York Hilton Midtown Hotel in New York City. During the evening, the University presented the Azrieli family with its Legacy Award, celebrating 36 years of transformative partnership with Yeshiva University and honoring the Azrieli Foundation’s three decades of impact philanthropy.
“We are honored to receive this recognition, which would have meant so much to my father,” said Dr. Azrieli. “He held a deep belief, which we share, in the redemptive power of education. He also felt that his support of education wasn’t charity, as it was giving back what education had given to him.”
During the evening, Dr. Berman conferred an honorary degree upon philanthropist Howard Jonas, founder and chairman of IDT Corporation, Genie Energy and IDW Media and chairman of the board of directors at Rafael Pharmaceuticals. Jonas and his wife, Debbie, support a variety of causes in the Jewish community. Their family foundation supports health and hospitals, education, poverty relief, addiction treatment, religious outreach and the disabled, primarily in Israel and the United States.
The evening also featured recognition of the Yeshiva University Women’s Organization (YUWO), which provides scholarships to students in need, sponsors educational Shabbat programs and funds chesed [charity] programs. YUWO also offers stipends for undergraduate students with basic needs not covered by scholarships, such as food, clothing, textbooks and healthcare.
The Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation drew guests who are among the country’s leading Jewish philanthropists and community leaders. Past speakers and honorees 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, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senator John McCain.