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A Summer Celebration of Social Work Graduates

Wurzweiler’s 42nd Block Program Commencement Honors New Members of the Profession

Weissberg Commons rang with wise words and celebratory laughter as the Wurzweiler School of Social Work welcomed 42 new graduates into their community.

Group photo of the Wurzweiler graduates

After the processional, led by Dr. Selma Botman, provost and vice president of academic affairs, Rabbi Yosef Kalinsky gave the invocation: “We ask for his blessing and support in your noble endeavor to help the most vulnerable in our society. May you never forget or overlook oppression and approach the suffering in our world with compassion, expertise and humility. May you have the courage to speak the truth and to advocate for human dignity and the rights of all members of our community.”

After congratulatory remarks by Joan Katz, a member of the Wurzweiler Board of Overseers, Dr. Danielle Wozniak, Dorothy and David I. Schachne Dean, spoke with passion about the confidence she has in how well the new graduates will do as they move out into the world to do their work. “For the last 61 years,” she said, “Wurzweiler has been educating social workers who are knowledgeable, hardworking, competent and resourceful. You now join their the vital work of repairing a fractured world, a world that has been waiting for this day, and waiting for you.”

This idea of social work being akin to a calling was a theme that Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University, took up his remarks to the graduates. “What we do at Yeshiva University,” he said, “is disseminate our messages of kindness and caring and redemption. We are on a path to redeem the world. We think of ourselves in greater terms. And this applies to all of our students and certainly applies to our incredible graduates of Wurzweiler. How you are devoting your life in working to redeem the world one by one, caring for each individual, is truly holy work.”

Three graduates—Debbie Akerman, Soohyoung Lee and Atara Leah English—offered their perspectives as students, and a number of other graduates received awards and certificates.

In his benediction, Rabbi Dr. Ari Sytner, adjunct instructor at Wurzweiler, noted that the graduates, now charged to go forth in to the world, will “transform the world that is before seeing the beauty and the pure humanity in every fragile, tender, broken person you meet, the beautiful and perfectly imperfect amongst us. Use your training and education and power to transform this world one person at a time.”


  • DEAN’S AWARD: Benjamin Druce
  • FACULTY AWARD: Andrew Scott Kener