June 14, 2024
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Touro Celebrates 50th Annual Commencement

The university bestowed an honorary degree on Rep. Mike Lawler, the keynote speaker.

(l-r) Touro EVP Rabbi Moshe Krupka, Touro President Dr. Alan Kadish, Keynote Speaker Rep. Mike Lawler, Alumnus of the Year Moshe Oiring.

(Courtesy of Touro University) Amidst the backdrop of war and rising antisemitism around the world, Touro University graduated nearly 600 students last Sunday at the 50th Annual Commencement Exercises, held at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center. The mood was at once somber and festive as many families, friends and faculty came directly from the Salute to Israel Parade. It was a day to stand up for Israel and the Jewish people while celebrating the individual and collective achievements of the graduates and offering hope for the future.

In his message to the graduates, Touro University President Dr. Alan Kadish shared his insight on responsibility and freedom. “We know that we are required to say, ‘the world was created for me.’ That is not meant to make us feel egotistical; it is intended to make us feel responsible. We are required to see every one of our actions impacting not only ourselves, but also our communities and the world at large … your choices and the things that you contribute — especially at this turbulent time — truly matter,” said Kadish.

“As graduates, you are free from the day-to-day responsibilities of classes and maintaining your grades. You are free now, free to work for your families and communities … free to help klal Yisroel and free to build a better world,” continued Kadish.

Numerous awards were presented for community service as well as high academic achievement in math, accounting, biology, finance, psychology, computer science, political science and more. The 2024 Alumnus of the Year award was presented to Morris Oiring, a leader and innovator in the healthcare industry. Founder of the Oiring Group and longtime COO of Pleet Homecare, Oiring is paying it forward with scholarships to help the next generation of Touro students succeed.

Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY-17) received an honorary degree and served as keynote speaker. His words resonated with the audience of hundreds and he was stopped throughout the speech for applause.

Lawler, who introduced the antisemitism awareness bill in Congress, began his speech with a quip that got a laugh from the crowd, “Rashida Tlaib is sorry she couldn’t join us today.”

He then turned serious stating, “Touro University has equipped each and every one of you with the skills, knowledge and experience necessary to make your own mark in the world. However, it’s not just the degrees and certificates we all celebrate today, but also the character, values and sense of community you have cultivated during your time here.

He continued, “These challenges of antisemitism test our ideas and they compel us to question which way is the best path forward. But it is precisely in these moments that we must act with moral clarity and conviction. The rampant antisemitism we’ve seen across the country since the horrific attacks on Oct. 7 is abhorrent and must be condemned wherever it rears its ugly head. As the representative of the 17th Congressional District of New York — home of one of the largest Jewish communities in America, I will never be silent and never back down. It’s why I’ve led the fight to stand up for our Jewish community here in America and combat antisemitism and Jew- hatred,” continued Lawler.

He added, “Recently, we passed my bill, the Antisemitism Awareness Act through the House of Representatives, which aims to stop the pervasive antisemitism we’ve seen on other college and university campuses across the country. We will not tolerate antisemitism and Jew-hatred anymore — and in the same way they would crack down on racism or bigotry of any kind, they must do so with antisemitism.”

Lawler affirmed his support for the state of Israel to thunderous applause and encouraged graduates to look to the future with the courage to surmount the unique challenges of the times. He received a standing ovation from the crowd.

The Touro graduates are headed for careers in top firms in technology, finance, accounting, cybersecurity and more. Many will enter graduate and professional schools in law, medicine, dentistry and psychology, where they have acceptance rates of over 95%. Others will pursue health science careers as physical and occupational therapists, physician assistants and pharmacists through Touro’s Integrated Honors Pathway.

One of the valedictorians, Bracha Gluck of Touro’s Lander College for Women, shared her thoughts on attending a Jewish institution as well as her personal wisdom for the future.

“At Touro, there was a seamless integration of our Jewish identity with our higher education. I never felt divided over being both academic and Jewish. It is for this reason that I am excited to continue pursuing my dream of becoming a doctor in the Touro University system at New York Medical College. Especially during these past few months, Touro’s voice of Jewish pride stands as a powerful beacon of hope and guidance, setting an institutional example of how we should approach our own personal lives,” said Gluck.

Other valedictorians included Ariel Goodstein and Chana Birnbaum of Touro’s Lander College of Arts & Sciences. Goodstein is headed to Harvard Law School this fall and Birnbaum, who is currently conducting rheumatology research, plans for a career in the medical field.

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