The Honorable Nir Barkat, mayor of Jerusalem, received an honorary degree and delivered the keynote address at Yeshiva University’s 92nd Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation on Sunday, December 11, 2016, at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.
In his introduction of Barkat, YU President Richard M. Joel lauded the mayor for his business skills and his commitment to public service, as well as his success in creating a Jerusalem of peace, safety, and wholeness. “With the eclectic variety that the population of Jerusalem maintains, you’ve elegantly shown that unity without uniformity is possible to achieve. You share and model the attributes of commitment to the Jewish people, professional acumen and determination, centrality of family and profound public service.”
In his keynote address, Barkat spoke movingly about his deep personal connection to Jerusalem and his determination to do his best to enable the city to reach its highest potential. “I am so proud and so optimistic. When you walk our streets – where kings and prophets walked thousands of years ago – today, you see the diverse people of our city living together, thriving together, in our restaurants and theaters, in our hospitals and universities. You understand that Jerusalem is fulfilling its role in the world more and more.”
At the convocation, President Joel also conferred honorary degrees upon Joseph Appleman, Gitta Nagel and Joshua L. Muss.
Attorney Joseph Appleman graduated from the Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy/Yeshiva University High School for Boys (MTA) in 1943 and Yeshiva College in 1947. He received his LLB from New York Law School in 1960. As a proud alumnus, he served as president of the Yeshiva College Alumni Association, and he is currently an honorary member of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law Board of Overseers.
Gitta Nagel is a community leader admired for her devotion to Jewish education, Holocaust remembrance, and the State of Israel. Together with her husband Jack Nagel, chairman of Decron Properties and member of the Yeshiva University Board of Trustees, the Nagels have been active and generous donors to many organizations, including Shaare Zedek Medical Center, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, YULA High Schools, Bar-Ilan University, Israel Bonds, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and Yeshiva University where they created the Nagel Family Atrium and Student Commons and the Nagel Scholarship Program for California students. Gitta received an honorary doctorate degree from Bar-Ilan University in 2001.
Joshua L. Muss – who serves as principal of Muss Development, a family company founded by his grandfather, Isaac, in 1906 – has a rich history with Yeshiva University. He graduated from MTA in 1958, Yeshiva College in 1962 and Harvard Law School in 1965. Muss continues his relationship with the University by serving on the YU Board of Trustees, Yeshiva College Board of Overseers, YU Executive Committee and YU Recruitment and Admissions Committee, and he chairs the YU Real Estate Committee. He and his wife, Harriet, are YU benefactors whose contributions support the Rabbi Hyman Muss Torah Learning Center and Beit Midrash Complex, Yeshiva College and Yeshiva University as a whole.
During the dinner portion, President Joel recognized eight Points of Light – students, faculty and alumni who exemplify the mission of the University – calling each one up to light a symbolic candle on the menorah. In his introductory remarks, President Joel said that he was proud to honor these “exemplars of Yeshiva University, who dream dreams and awaken the world with their commitment.”
The Points of Light were Ira Bernstein and Meir Uretsky, the oldest alumnus of MTA and a current student there, respectively, representing the school’s centennial; Leslie Newman, professor of law at Cardozo; Noam Safier, a student at Yeshiva College; Dr. Harris Goldstein, associate dean for scientific resources at Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Tiffany Rodriguez and Dr. William Salton of the Asylum Program at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology; Rabbi Dan Cohen of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary; Tzivya Beck, a student at Stern College for Women; and Manny Dahari, a student at Sy Syms School of Business.
Approximately $4 million was raised at the dinner and convocation, which serves as the University’s main annual fundraising event.