Wurzweiler School of Social Work Graduation

Lamport Auditorium Filled with Graduates Along with Their Friends and Family

On Thursday, May 16, 2019, the walls of the storied Lamport Auditorium on the Wilf campus of Yeshiva University rung with cheers, words of wisdom and applause as the Wurzweiler School of Social Work conferred degrees upon its 2019 graduates.

Dr. Jay Sweifach, associate dean and director of the PhD program, proved an able master of ceremonies for the assembled crowd of family, friends, faculty and administration. Dr. Selma Botman, provost and vice president for academic affairs, led in the procession as Chief Marshal, and Daniel Pollack, professor of social work, gave the invocation, in which he asked the “Master of the Universe” to bless and strengthen the graduates: “May you grant them opportunities to spend more time with their spouses, children, and loved ones than they think is reasonable; may you open their eyes to pay attention to all of their habits, because our habits, very quickly, become our lives; and, finally, may you help them to realize that, even though life isn’t always tied up in a nice, pretty bow, it’s all a wonderful gift.”

Greetings were given to the audience by Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University, and Froma Benerofe, chair of the Wurzweiler Board of Overseers, along with remarks by Wurzweiler students Nafees Alam (PhD Class of 2019), Bonnie Pollak (PhD Class of 2019), Michelle S. Davis-Levy (MSW Class of 2019) and Jenesis Perez (MSW Class of 2019). Alam captured the spirit of the students’ remarks when she said that it is the duty of social workers “to protect and preserve everyone’s right to the freedom of speech, the freedom of thought, the freedom of expression.”

The keynote speech was given by Benjamin Kallos, New York City Council Member, District 5. In her introduction, Dr. Danielle Wozniak, Dorothy and David I. Schachne Dean of Wurzweiler, admired Kallos for being “driven by the burning desire of public service and the yearning for social change. The necessity of Tikkun Olam—the Jewish concept of ‘Repairing the World’—propelled Council Member Kallos into politics. He does not hold his position to acquire fame but to service the thousands of constituents who live in his district.”

In his remarks, he told the assembled graduates that “for as long as I am here, you have a friend and ally in government dedicated to making it work for everyone. Change won’t come on day one, but it will come if it involves people like you—dedicated, passionate and effective.”

AWARDS AND PRESENTATIONS
SHELDON R. GELMAN NASW STUDENT AWARD (Presented by NASW-NYC Chapter): Zachary Johnson

DEAN’S AWARD: Crystal Diamond Pinero, William Carl Parker

FACULTY AWARD: Jenesis Perez

ESTHER AND WALTER LENTSCHNER AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN WRITING: Raquel Gersten, Rachel Wertentheil

EDWARD GRUPPER MEMORIAL AWARD TO FIRST-YEAR STUDENT: Robert Reiser

AARON H. BECKERMAN RESEARCH AWARD: Jenna Alisa Springer

ELAINE SCHOTT ADVOCACY AWARD: Evan Cohen

FREDDA S. LEFF AWARD FOR SERVICES TO THE JEWISH COMMUNITY: Shayna T. Itzhak

M. JOANNA MELLOR MEMORIAL AWARD FOR SERVICES TO THE ELDERLY: Robin D. Sabater

OUTSTANDING LEADERSHIP AWARD: William Carl Parker

2019 Wurzweiler Commencement