July 18, 2024
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Yeshiva University Commencement Has Special ‘Golden’ Touch

Yeshiva University 50 year alumni reunion.

Yeshiva University’s 2024 commencement ceremonies were extra-ordinary for 11 of the participants. These were people of different backgrounds, professions and social brackets. Perhaps they were acquainted with each other during parts of their lives or knew each other very well. However, on May 29, 2024 they all enjoyed a special bond. These 10 men and one woman were celebrating their 50th and 51st anniversary of graduating from Yeshiva and Stern Colleges in 1974 and 1973 respectively.

The long awaited occasion was celebrated by the university in regal fashion. Months previously these alumni were questioned about their current professions, higher degrees earned, height and head diameter. This information was used to determine what kind of cap, gown and hood each would receive upon arrival.

They, along with any spouse who accompanied them, were all feted to an appetizing buffet lunch replete with time to acquaint or reacquaint with each other. The anomaly in this group was the only Stern-YU couple in the assemblage who, although not acquainted during their four years of college, met shortly thereafter in an apartment building that Yeshiva students often sublet in the summers.

Dressing for the occasion was accomplished with the help of male (featured in the group shot as the tall, young gentleman in the back extreme left) and female alumni staff employed by the university. Wearing beret-style caps and difficult-to-maneuver hoods was simplified by the assistance of the staff. The rather circuitous route to the floor of the Louis Armstrong Stadium required the expertise of the staff to guide the 50th anniversary alumni to the proper staging area. Through an elevator and lengthy labyrinth of ramps, the group arrived early enough to allow first the female and then the male undergraduates to march down the central aisle to their seats as the assembled audience cheered. The 50-year alumni were the last group to march to their assigned area of the arena.

The ceremony began with the singing of both the Israeli and American national anthems led by Mordechai Shapiro. Throughout the ceremony he sang other Jewish melodies; spontaneous dancing by the undergrads even erupted at one point. The video that Yeshiva had created centering on former alumni that had been instrumental in Israel since October 7 emphasized the ironclad connections between Israel and YU. Many Yeshiva students were portrayed as studying, learning and permanently living there. Humbling vignettes of 10 other alumni who made the ultimate sacrifice for Israel were also portrayed; they were memorialized during the video.

Subsequent to the video, Dr. Rabbi Ari Berman, dean, introduced Senator John Fetterman by explaining how inspiring this man was when speaking about Israel. Rabbi Berman described his reaction when he went to visit the senator in his Washington office. The dean was completely taken aback seeing all of the hostage posters covering the walls of Senator Fetterman’s personal office in the capital. It was with this image in mind, and innumerable other attitudes and statements lauding Israel and the Jewish people, that Yeshiva University granted the Presidential Award to this great leader. A long standing ovation for the senator from Pennsylvania followed this presentation.

No less astounding was the senator’s acceptance speech, which also received a long and strong standing ovation. Senator Fetterman referred to his own graduation from Harvard University years ago which he now regretted so much that he removed the red Harvard hood from around his neck and forcibly threw it to the ground. This action reiterated his distinct disdain for the unabashed disregard Harvard had for the rights and feelings of its Jewish students and professors.

Near the conclusion of the graduation ceremony but before the undergraduates were awarded their diplomas, the group of “golden” alumni were recognized and applauded. Truly a magnificent celebration for all who attended, Yeshiva University’s 2024 graduation will long be remembered by its 1973 and 1974 graduates.


Anita Kolat graduated from Stern College in 1973. She met her husband David in an apartment building in Washington Heights frequented by YU alumni when he graduated from Yeshiva College in 1974.

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