Wilf Family Celebrates Their Scholars

Luncheon Marks 31 Years of Family’s Scholarship Support at YU

The Annual Wilf Luncheon hosted in the President's Office on the Wilf Campus
Mark Wilf speaks with students.

Yeshiva University President Richard M. Joel hosted the annual Wilf Scholarship Luncheon on Monday, April 11, 2016. Forty student recipients of financial assistance from the Wilf Family Distinguished Scholarship Fund met with members of the Wilf family and senior YU administrators.

The Wilf family has been among the most generous donors to YU. In addition to providing scholarship assistance, the family named the men’s campus in Washington Heights and created a new cardiovascular research center at YU-affiliated Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Zygi Wilf and his wife, Audrey, were there, along with Leonard, Mark, Jonathan, Steven, and Brett Tanzman.

As President Joel noted in his opening remarks, “This luncheon marks 31 years of scholarship support from the Wilf family.” In 2015-2016, the program supported 96 students and disbursed $1,537,793.  “It has always been a small number of people who have lead society and civilization,” he said directly to the students. “The people who invest in you, invest in you because they precisely want that from you. You have leadership roles, and that’s why you’re here today.”

The Annual Wilf Luncheon hosted in the President's Office on the Wilf Campus
Natan Bienstock thanks the Wilf family for their support.

President Joel then introduced Natan Bienstock, a senior in the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program and a Wilf Family Scholarship recipient. Being at YU, Bienstock said, has made so many things possible. As often as he can, he tries to give back through volunteering and coaching. “This is just part of my attempt to repay the tremendous debt that I owe the Wilf family for believing in me and allowing me to fulfill my dream of attending Yeshiva University.”

Several students volunteered to speak about the ways their scholarships have helped them. Elan Teichmann, a senior, spoke with pride about how Torah Umadda has made him value intellectual openness. Through his actions, he said, he will strive to ensure that Judaism always plays a part in the great conversation going on in the world. Avital Shulman enjoyed the variety of options open to her, from research with her professors to taking a music course where her final composition was played by a professional quartet.

The Annual Wilf Luncheon hosted in the President's Office on the Wilf Campus
Avital Shulman speaks about her experiences at YU.

Alexander Maged’s life was literally changed by the scholarship, since it allowed him to connect with Jewish life in a way that has brought him great delight and direction.  Chana Bushee, from a small city in Wisconsin, echoed the same sentiment, thrilled that she had so many opportunities to pursue her passion for pre-med and research.

When Leonard Wilf took his turn at the podium to respond on behalf of the family, he marveled at the three decades of support his family has given the University, and described what he called his “philanthropic truism” about providing scholarships: “If you give a building, you give a building,” he said. “But if you give a scholarship, you not only invest in the University, you invest in people. In my way of thinking, we get a ‘two-fer’ for that investment – in you as a person and in the University as a whole.”

Mark Wilf, who received an honorary degree from YU at the 91st Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation in December 2015, added that “it gives us such hope and energy to know that the Jewish community and the future are in such good hands.”  He lauded President Joel for his leadership and promised that the family’s support will continue.  “We love coming and being with all of you, and we wish you all the best for many years to come.”

The Annual Wilf Luncheon hosted in the President's Office on the Wilf Campus
President Richard M. Joel (left) with the Wilf Family