Rabbi Joshua Fass, a Yeshiva University alumnus and executive director of Nefesh B’Nefesh, will deliver the keynote address and receive an honorary doctorate at YU’s 82nd Commencement Ceremony on Thursday, May 30, at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, NJ.
YU President Richard M. Joel will also confer honorary doctorates upon entrepreneur Tony B. Gelbart, businessman and philanthropist Abraham Naymark, and Merryl H. Tisch, chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents.
Together with Gelbart, Fass co-founded Nefesh B'Nefesh, an organization that has helped thousands actualize their dream of aliyah (immigration to Israel). Under his leadership, Nefesh B’Nefesh has assisted more than 36,000 western olim and has maintained a retention rate of 97 percent.
Fass has received several prestigious awards, including the “Light Unto the Nations” Award in 2002, the “Menachem Begin Award” in 2004 and “The Moskowitz Prize for Zionism” in 2011.
Gelbart is a serial entrepreneur who has founded, grown and successfully led several companies in various industries through exits to both public and privately held buyers. He was appointed by President George W. Bush as a council member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and has served as vice chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition, as a board member of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and continues to serve as a member of national board of directors and advisor to the president of the Jewish National Fund.
As co-founder and chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Gelbart has raised more than $120 million to help the organization fulfill its goals.
A YU benefactor, Naymark is the owner of Parsons Properties Inc. His contributions to Yeshiva University have included the establishment of the Naymark Scholarship Fund at the Sy Syms School of Business. Naymark’s philanthropic endeavors include the North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System, where he funded the Abraham & Ruth Naymark Pavilion, and the Young Israel of Holliswood / Holliswood Jewish Center, where he funded the Abe and Ruth Naymark Building.
Tisch has served on the New York State Board of Regents since 1996 and was elected chancellor in 2009. She also serves as chairperson of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty. With an annual budget of $100 million, the Metropolitan Council has gained national recognition for its work in the areas of youth and family services, housing, poverty programs and neighborhood preservation. Previously, Tisch served as chairperson of the Mt. Sinai Children’s Center Foundation.
“Commencement is a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate the education of our children. We have an extraordinary graduating class that is ready to make a difference in the Jewish community and the world,” said President Joel.
“Our honorees represent courage, dedication, lay and professional achievement, and reflect Yeshiva University's commitment to the future of education, the Jewish people and the State of Israel,” he added.
In all, more than 1,600 students from Yeshiva College, Stern College for Women and Syms School of Business, as well as graduate students in the fields of law, medicine, social work, education, Jewish studies and psychology, will be awarded degrees from YU during its commencement season.