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Yeshiva University Honors Emil A. Fish of Los Angeles, California for work in Holocaust Education

The University recognized the founder and benefactor of the Emil A. and Jenny Fish Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies and will confer Honorary Doctorate at YU’s Commencement

(Photo Credit: Jonah Light Photography)

NEW YORK, NY March 20, 2023—More than 270 guests celebrated the leadership and commitment of Emil A. Fish, founder and benefactor of Yeshiva University’s Emil A. and Jenny Fish Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies, which was founded in 2019. The dinner, which took place on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, at Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica, California, raised more than $400,000 to further the work of the Center, which strives to build a cadre of teachers, professionals and lay leaders committed to Holocaust education and remembrance, and ready to meet the challenges that the field is facing.

Guest Speaker was Chana Stiefel, the award-winning author of The Tower of Life: How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt Her Town in Stories and Photographs, a moving biography of the woman who created The Tower of Life, a powerful exhibit at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. On March 13 and 14, she visited five Jewish day schools in Los Angeles to speak about her inspiration and journey to publication. She also spoke about Yaffa Eliach’s mission of restoring humanity to the victims of the Holocaust — a mission much aligned with Mr. Fish’s — through the Tower of Life. Mr. Fish gifted each student who attended Mrs. Stiefel’s presentation a copy of the book. 

During the dinner, Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University, announced that the University will award Mr. Fish an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at its 92nd Annual Commencement, which will take place at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. During Commencement, three generations — and four members — of the Fish family will receive degrees from Yeshiva University, including his daughter, Monique Mogyoros, who will receive a master’s degree from the Fish Center; his grandson, William, who will receive his bachelor’s degree from the Sy Syms School of Business; and his grandson, Zachary, who will receive his bachelor’s degree from Yeshiva College.

Mr. Fish believes that it is critical to provide educators with the resources and programs needed to impart the relevancy of the Holocaust to a new generation of students who know less and less about this catastrophic period in contemporary history. Located on YU’s Wilf Campus in Washington Heights, New York, the Center offers interdisciplinary graduate programs in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and an advanced certificate in Holocaust education designed for public and private school educators in grades 6-12 who seek effective, age-appropriate methods and materials for teaching about the Holocaust. Its mission is to apply the lessons learned from the Holocaust and other genocides to combat prejudices, hateful ideologies and future atrocities.

Mr. Emil A. Fish

A Holocaust survivor from the small town of Bardejov in Slovakia, Mr. Fish is the founder of the Bardejov Jewish Preservation Committee. In 1944, as a 9-year-old boy, he and his family were captured and arrested by the Gestapo. His father was sent to Buchenwald concentration camp and survived. He, his mother and sister were sent to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where they were liberated in 1945 by the British Army. He and his family immigrated to Los Angeles in 1955.

The founder of Emil Fish Enterprises and Regency Park Senior Living, Inc., he has served as president of Congregation Shaarei Tefila, Hillel Hebrew Academy and the Union of Orthodox Congregations, West Coast Office. Mr. Fish has also served as a member of the Jewish Community Relations Committee of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation.

In 2006, he founded the Bardejov Jewish Preservation Committee, which was established to preserve and document the Jewish heritage in his hometown and to memorialize and honor its Holocaust victims.

In 2009, Mr. Fish was appointed by President Barack Obama to the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad, on which he still serves. He currently resides in both Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Among his many achievements, he is most proud of his three children and 12 grandchildren.

Mr. Fish’s generous gift was made through the University’s comprehensive campaign, Rise Up: The Campaign for 613, which was launched in December 2021 with the goal of raising $613 million over five years. Funds support YU’s four strategic areas of focus: values and leadership, science and tech, entrepreneurship and innovation, and great jobs and impactful careers.