When Phil Friedman, CEO of Computer Generated Solutions (CGS), learned Hebrew for his bar-mitzvah, he had to do so in secret. He lived in the Soviet Union, and any outward expression of Jewish religion was not only discouraged but potentially dangerous for a Jew.
Phil, a member of the Yeshiva University Board of Trustees, knew then that religious education was something that every Jew should have the privilege of pursuing, regardless of external factors.
Phil's commitment to Jewish learning stayed with him throughout the years. After arriving in the United States in 1976, he took the $500 he had in his pocket and, with much hard work, perseverance and education, turned it into CGS, an international technology company that has a global presence, with 18 offices and over 3,000 employees.
This hard work and dedication earned him the means to become a generous supporter of YU. In 2009, he endowed the Alexander Friedman Scholarship Fund in honor of his father, and which awards five need-based scholarships each year, complete with offers of paid summer internships at CGS for the students and possible full-time employment once they graduate.
"Jewish causes have always been close to my heart," explains Phil, "since my days in the Soviet Union, when a Jew was not allowed to practice his religion openly. Jewish education is one such cause that I feel is extremely important, and I don't believe that Jewish students should be denied an education that teaches them their religion and beautiful heritage."
He continues, "Being involved in YU, the most prestigious and visibly Jewish institution of higher learning, gives me great pride. I feel very grateful to be able to give back and make it possible for many people who might not have had the chance to pursue Jewish studies to do so in such a fine place as YU."