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Not Only a Graduation But The Living Story of Jewish Destiny

Celebrating its graduates, the leaders of tomorrow, Yeshiva University awarded its highest honor for global leadership, the Presidential Medallion, to Brigadier General (Ret.) Dr. Daniel Gold, Head of Israel’s Defense Research and Development Directorate (DDR&D- MAFAT) at the Israel Ministry of Defense (IMOD) and Israel Defense Forces (IDF); and bestowed an Honorary Doctorate to Holocaust survivor, philanthropist and visionary Emil Fish. The ceremony took place on Tuesday, May 23, at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, with more than 5,000 in attendance.

(l-r) Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Mr. Ira Mitzner, Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, Dr. Daniel Gold, Mr. Emil A. Fish

Dr. Daniel Gold is one of the leading forces behind Israel’s defense and technology sector, overseeing all R&D, technology infrastructure, full-scale development and capabilities development, including special directorates (Space, UAVs, Missile/Rocket Defense, robotics/autonomous systems, AI/Cyber/Digital and Dual Use technologies). Dr. Gold holds two Ph.D.s, is a four-time recipient of the Israeli Air Force Prize, a recipient of the Singapore Defense Technology Distinguished Fellowship Award and in 2012 was selected “Man of the Year” by Forbes Magazine-Israel. Dr. Gold was honored to light the torch during the opening ceremony of Israel’s Independence Day in 2015. He is also the founder of Iron Dome, the lifesaving air defense system that protects Israel from incoming missiles, which was selected in a national competition on the occasion of Israel’s 70th Anniversary as “The Most Innovative Israeli Technology” since the establishment of the state of Israel.

Mr. Emil Fish receiving his honorary doctorate

“As Israel celebrates its 75th birthday, it is particularly fitting for us to host one of the heroes who stands as a role model for our students for his deep dedication to the Jewish state and impactful leadership in safeguarding its vitality and security,” said Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University.

“I am proud to be here today with the next generation of bright minds,” said Dr. Gold. “As Head of the Israel Ministry of Defense Research and Development Directorate (DDR&D-MAFAT), it is my privilege to witness what brilliant young people are capable of. Their creativity, innovation and drive result in cutting-edge technology developed thanks to their talent, but more importantly according to their values. The students here are receiving the tools and education they need to lead, and I look forward to their future accomplishments. It is an honor to be awarded the Presidential Medallion for global leadership from Yeshiva University, an excellent academic institution educating our future leaders."

Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman addressing the audience

Emil Fish survived the horrors of Bergen-Belsen and upon becoming a successful businessman in Los Angeles, dedicated himself to remembering the victims of the Holocaust. He founded YU’s Emil A. and Jenny Fish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, which educates today’s teachers to effectively transmit the history and lessons of the Holocaust from a Jewish perspective — a vital need to combat the alarming rise of antisemitism and Holocaust distorters and deniers.

Upon receiving his honorary doctorate, Emil marked Yeshiva University history as he was joined at commencement with his daughter Monique who earned a master’s degree in Holocaust studies and two grandchildren who were awarded their bachelor’s degrees, representing an amazing accomplishment of three generations receiving degrees simultaneously.

“Over my lifetime, I have seen not just a declining interest in the Holocaust, but a growing misrepresentation of what happened,” said Mr. Fish. “When I approached Rabbi Berman with the idea of a Holocaust education center, he immediately mobilized Yeshiva University’s resources. YU has always stood up for what’s right for the Jewish people, and it continues to defend and uphold our values. I am deeply honored to receive an honorary doctorate from this extraordinary institution and celebrate the manifold successes of my family at our beloved university.”

Brigadier General (Ret.) Dr. Daniel Gold

During the commencement ceremony, more than 1,700 degrees were awarded to students across four undergraduate and eleven graduate schools and programs. The event also featured a surprise performance by Yerachmiel Begun and the Miami Boys Choir, who sang their viral hit “Yerushalayim” as well as other songs.

“This is truly a milestone — not just for our students, but for the Jewish people at large,” said President Berman. “As the flagship Jewish university, honoring the innovation and leadership propelling the modern State of Israel, remembering the generations past and strengthening Holocaust education, and celebrating our students, the leaders of tomorrow, is not simply a graduation, it is the living story of Jewish destiny.”

Watch the recap video here.

Miami Boys Choir performing
Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman with a graduate