Wednesday, March 29, 2023

From the first time he stepped onto the Bar-Ilan University (BIU) campus almost 50 years ago as part of his bar mitzvah celebration in Israel, Ronnie Stern knew that Bar-Ilan and its American Friends would always play an important part of his life and that of his family.  When he was recently elected as the new President of the American Friends of Bar-Ilan University in New York, it was yet another seminal moment in the Stern family’s multi-generational support. His mother, Jane Stern Lebell, an Honorary President of AFBIU was on hand for his election. His maternal grandfather, Charles Wolfson, was among Bar-Ilan first major supporters, and his father, Jerome, has funded The Jerome L. Stern Family Graduate Studies Classroom Building.

Stern’s commitment to Bar-Ilan was reinforced during the years he worked with Danny Abraham to build Slim-Fast into one of the world’s leading diet food companies. “It was inspiring to see Danny provide the funding and the vision to create the only Business School in Israel based on the Harvard case method model at Bar-Ilan. Danny was convinced that Israel needed trained businessmen to strengthen their economy and compete on the world market. It wasn’t the first Business School in Israel… but it was designed to be the best,” said Stern.

“Putting things together within a Jewish context” is an approach that makes Bar-Ilan such a special university. It builds on the legacy of Jewish people throughout history, who have been so successful because they learn from the best around them, then collaborated together to break through all barriers to improve the world,” said Stern.

A member of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan and The Hampton Synagogue in Long Island, NY, Stern said he likes the way both synagogues stress the importance of religious tolerance – just as Bar-Ilan does. “It’s wonderful to walk on the Bar-Ilan campus, and see religious Jews and secular Jews coming together in an environment that is welcoming to Jews of all backgrounds. Different opinions can be freely expressed on a campus that respects everyone’s point of view,” said Stern.

He is also excited to speak with more people about Bar-Ilan’s Medical School in Safed, which in only three years has already strengthened healthcare in northern Israel. “When people contribute to the Medical School, they get more bang for the buck because instead of having to build a new costly teaching hospital, Bar-Ilan affiliated the new state of art school with six existing hospitals in the Galilee! It was a brilliant move that makes use of Israel’s and donors’ resources. These hospitals are immediately benefiting from the School’s outstanding doctors, scientific researchers, community outreach programs and interns,” said Stern.

“The more people who know about Bar-Ilan’s tremendous innovation in all fields, the more supporters we will gain. The University can only continue growing if we build upon what past generations of supporters have made possible.”

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