(Courtesy of Yeshiva University) On Sunday, December 6, Yeshiva University was proud to celebrate its 96th Annual Chanukah Dinner. Reimagined this year as a virtual event, the dinner featured an interactive program allowing guests to choose their own event. The new format expanded the reach of the Chanukah Dinner with over 4,600 registered participants and created a platform to recognize YU’s supporters of our scholarship funds. In line with the opportunities that a virtual format presents, the dinner program was a centerpiece of this year’s strong fundraising efforts and will continue throughout the calendar year.
YU supporters including registered Chanukah Dinner guests, President’s Society members, annual supporters, student leaders, faculty and staff will have exclusive access to view the virtual dinner, an interactive program allowing guests to choose their own event content through the end of 2020. The Chanukah Dinner provides an opportunity to share in YU’s successes, thank donors for continued support and welcome back alumni and friends into the community.
The evening began with a foundational introduction that brought the historic past of Yeshiva University into our present. YU President Dr. Ari Berman then delivered a keynote address which laid out the future of Yeshiva University as continuing its rise and transformation to meet the opportunities of our time.
Following the address, Berman introduced the YU Conversations, six online panel discussions on a wide range of contemporary topics that provided an opportunity for the school’s world-renowned faculty, alumni and lay partners to lead engaging discussions. The discussions focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, lessons from the pandemic, Jewish values and medical ethics, and new opportunities emerging in the Middle East, and they demonstrate the type of thought-provoking content that YU students experience in the classroom and during other programming throughout the academic year.
“In a year that has presented unprecedented challenges and opportunities, we are thrilled that our esteemed faculty, rebbeim, thought leaders and lay partners were able to showcase the extraordinary discourse of YU during our virtual event,” noted Berman. “Through this program, the broader YU community had the opportunity to learn together and celebrate our values in support of scholarship funds for our students, the leaders of tomorrow. Our education—which is both deeply rooted in our 3,000-year-old tradition of values and forward focused in realizing the enormous opportunities of the future—is more necessary today than ever before.”
“The unique circumstances of 2020 allowed us to think differently about the strategies behind what the dinner can accomplish, including raising philanthropic support and recognizing our community of loyal and steadfast donors,” said Adam Gerdts, vice president for institutional advancement at YU. “Building on our successful launch of the President’s Society this fall, fundraising continued directly into our dinner-related efforts.”
Dinner participants were given the opportunity to participate in two of the YU Conversations. Panelists included:
Jewish Values in Professional Sports
Stan Kasten, president and CEO, Los Angeles Dodgers
Marc Lasry, co-owner, Milwaukee Bucks
Mark Wilf, owner/president, Minnesota Vikings
Moderated by Shira Yoshor, employment law and business law lawyer, Greenberg Traurig, LLP
Risks vs. Rewards of Bringing Cutting-Edge Science and Technology to the Market
Joe Jacobson, head of Molecular Machines group, MIT Media Lab
Anne Neuberger, director, cybersecurity at NSA
Jeremy Wertheimer, CEO, Biological Engineering Ventures
Moderated by Noam Wasserman, dean, Sy Syms School of Business, Yeshiva University
A New Era of Opportunity
Ambassador Danny Danon, Israel’s former ambassador to the U.N.; visiting professor in the department of political science, Yeshiva University
H.E. Ambassador Houda Nonoo, ambassador, ministry of foreign affairs, the Kingdom of Bahrain
Moderated by former U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman, Rennert Chair in public policy and public service, Yeshiva University
Medical Ethics During a Global Pandemic
Dr. Tia Powell, director, Montefiore-Einstein Center for Bioethics and of the Einstein-Cardozo master of science in bioethics program
Dr. Edward Reichman, professor in the division of education and bioethics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Halacha During a Global Pandemic
Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz, director, Joseph B. Soloveitchik semicha program, RIETS, Yeshiva University
Rav Hershel Schachter, rosh yeshiva, RIETS, Yeshiva University
Supreme Friendship in a Polarized Age: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia
Christopher Scalia, director of academic programs at the American Enterprise Institute, son of Justice Antonin Scalia
Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, director, the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, Yeshiva University
The virtual event concluded with an alumni video showcasing their connection to Yeshiva University that spans across the generations and a call to action from student leaders, our leaders of tomorrow.