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December 14, 2011 8:13 pm

Senator “Dr. Gillibrand” Celebrates Yeshiva University’s 87th Convocation

avatar by Maxine Dovere

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Yeshiva University President helped adjust the "hood" of Honorary Doctor Senator Kirsten Gillerbrand. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

Leaders of the Jewish and secular worlds of academia, business, and technology gathered at New York’s Waldorf Astoria for the “treasured tradition” of the annual Yeshiva University Chanukah convocation and dinner. The December 10th celebration included the conferring of honorary degrees on four individuals “who have demonstrated committed leadership and dedication to education.” Recipients included Philip Friedman, Founder, President and CEO of Computer Generated  Solution, who dedicated his honor to the memory of his mother; Ira Mitzner, Chair of YU’s Center for the Jewish Future and President of RIDA Development Corporation, who addressed his remarks to his father, speaking to him with warmth and emotion, as though alone in the room, noting his love and respect for yiddishkeit and humanity; Stephen B. Siegel, Chairman of Global Brokerage, CB Richard Ellis, called “one of the 100 Most Influential Business Leaders in New York City” by Crain’s, and founder of the Stephen Siegel Program in Real Estate Law at Cardozo; and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who the Daily Beast called “one of the 150 women that shake the world.” Gillibrand served as Keynote Speaker.

Gillibrand, says The New York Times, has brought a “quiet touch of revolution” to Washington.” The Senator has fostered great access and ease of accessibility to her office. Appointed in 2009 to fill the remainder of Hillary Clinton’s term in 2009, she was elected with a 63% majority in her initial senatorial run. Gillibrand was a driving force for the passage of the Zagruda Bill, providing health care for 911 First Responders and community victims, and is considered a vocal advocate for working families and the middle class.

“The Senator,” said President Richard Joel “has taken New York and Israel into her family.” She has, he said “developed a career devoted to opening the eyes of those who might not want to see. He noted that she is “steadfast defender of Israel.”

“The generosity of the human spirit is more important now than ever,” said the Gillibrand. “In dark and unstable times…to provide leadership what is most needed is a quality education of the kind given at Yeshiva University, to prepare and inspire students… and teach the spirit of tikkun olam.” Regarding American-Israeli cooperation, The Senator called Israel the closest and most historic ally in the region. “I assure you that the United States must, and always will, stand arm and arm with Israel.” “Security is always very personal to me. As a mother, I cannot imagine sending a child to school and not knowing if the child will come home…We cannot take our eye off the ball for Israel’s overall security.”  She emphatically stated that the only path to peace is through direct negotiation, not unilateral action.

Applause greeted the Senator’s words throughout her speech, including when she stated “Iran is our biggest threat. We cannot and will not ever tolerate a nuclear Iran.” Sanctions she said must be “crippling” or they will not be effective. Kirsten Gillibrand closed her remarks with a reminiscence of her grandmother from whom she “learned that women’s voices matter, that women’s voices can make a difference.”

President Richard Joel presented the University's eight "Points of Light," outstanding representatives of the undergraduate, graduate, medical and law schools. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

Senator Kirsten Gillerbrand, keynote speaker, shared a moment of prayer with Yeshiva University President Richard Joel. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

Yeshiva University President Richard Joel accompanies past President Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm during the academic recessional. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

Professor Cantor Joseph Malavony led the singing of the Star Spangled Banner at the annual Dinner and Convocation. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

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