Dec 17, 2008 — New York State Governor David A. Paterson paid tribute to the values of charity and public service that guide Yeshiva University’s mission as the keynote speaker at its 84th Annual Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation at The Waldorf=Astoria on Dec. 14. President Richard M. Joel awarded honorary degrees to five leaders whose lives have embodied these values: philanthropists David Feuerstein and Roslyn Goldstein; Elliot Gibber, president and CEO of Deb-El Food Products; Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, rabbi of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun and head of the Ramaz School; and Governor Paterson.
“We joyously celebrate five outstanding men and women who exemplify the breadth and depth of this University,” President Joel said.
The convocation and dinner, the University’s main annual fundraising event, raised $3.2 million this year, just over $1 million more than last year.
“After 122 years and only four presidents, this university is thriving,” Governor Paterson said. “President Joel is pursuing the opportunity to fulfill the true meaning of education: a higher knowledge and a greater spirit.” He was introduced by Sheldon Silver, Speaker of the New York State Assembly and a 1965 alumnus of Yeshiva College.
Governor Paterson spoke about the nature of public service, saying it was not for the sake of “the congratulations but the people whose lives we change.” He drew a direct parallel to the charitable work done by Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, who were killed in the recent Mumbai terrorist attacks.
The dinner portion of the evening showcased the Points of Light, a group of students, faculty, alumni and donors who represent the excellence that YU is known for.
They were Stern College student and physics major Malka Bromberg, who is conducting in-depth research as a Kressel Scholar; Yofi Jacob, a junior at Yeshiva University High School for Boys, whose family plays a crucial role in supporting the Jewish community in Mumbai; Professor Leon Wildes, director of the Immigration Law Externship, and Professor Peter Markowitz, director of the Immigration Justice Clinic at YU’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law; Yeshiva College senior Avi Amsalem, co-president of the student-run Medical Ethics Society; Rabbi Ari Zahtz, a fellow of the Dr. Lamm Kollel L’horaah at RIETS and assistant rabbi at B’nai Yeshurun in Teaneck, NJ; Dan Kelly, a 2008 Einstein graduate, who founded a national nonprofit, the Global Action Foundation, and built a free clinic for amputees and other victims of Sierra Leone’s devastating violence; and Sofia Gordon, a student at Stern College and a Wilf Scholar, who discovered her true Jewish identity as a young Russian immigrant in Germany.
“The brilliance of our faculty, students, researchers, alumni and philanthropists inspires us and brings the promise of light and hope to the world around us,” said President Joel.