Monday, January 21, 2019

(Courtesy of Touro College) The rain couldn’t dampen the smiles when Touro’s Lander Colleges celebrated their 44th Annual Commencement at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall. Six hundred fourteen students graduated with bachelor’s degrees and 111 students earned associate degrees, as an audience of 1,900 family members and friends joined the celebration.

As well-wishers looked on, the graduating students accepted their diplomas from Touro College and University System President Dr. Alan Kadish, Chairman of the Board Dr. Mark Hasten and the Lander College deans—Dr. Robert Goldschmidt of Lander College of Arts & Sciences in Flatbush, Dr. Moshe Sokol of Lander College for Men in Queens and Dr. Marian Stoltz-Loike of Lander College for Women—the Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School in Manhattan.

Dr. Kadish, who gave the commencement address, told the graduates, “We—the Jewish people—have a job to do in this world. We must project our greatest and most humane values outward into society, leading the culture in being reflective and constructively critical of our way of life. “

Dr. Kadish focused on the increase in anti-Semitic events, a 57 percent rise documented by the Anti-Defamation League. He told graduates that they enter a complex, wider world and called upon them to make a difference. “Historically, it has been mightily challenging for the Jewish people in every society and every generation. But our story has always been, and always will be, one of progress and ascent.”

“And so, as you take your leave of Touro, I ask you: What will your place be in this story? How will your generation contribute to our upward trajectory and harness Jewish optimism and faith to make our story, as well as the broader world’s, a more beautiful and humane one?” Dr. Kadish asked.

“It is time for you to take your spots in that broader scheme and determine the parts you’ll play in enriching our society. I have no doubts that, with the education you’ve received, yours will be robust and beautiful contributions,” he concluded.

Touro’s valedictorians took Dr. Kadish’s message to heart and responded in kind.

Joshua Goldmeier, the valedictorian of Lander College for Men, flew in from Israel to attend the program. After finishing classes in January, Goldmeier moved to Israel to pursue a career in artificial intelligence. He is currently enrolled in an elite, 10-month machine-learning program through the Israel Tech Challenge.

Helene (Chanie) Weinreb, the valedictorian of the School for Women at Lander College of Arts and Sciences in Flatbush, will start a doctoral program in physical therapy at Touro’s School of Health Sciences this fall.

Betzalel Krasnow, the first second-generation student valedictorian of the School for Men at Lander College of Arts and Sciences in Flatbush, reminded his peers that achieving their dreams requires determination and grit. This fall Krasnow, a father of two, will start dental school.

Ayelet Schwerd, valedictorian of Lander College for Women—The Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School, aspires to synthesize psychological tools and Torah principles and mores to elevate behavioral standards in the frum community. Next year, she plans to begin a PsyD program at Rutgers University, one of the top-ranked programs in the nation. Her ultimate goal is to specialize in child and adolescent psychology. “Touro College programs insulate students while providing them with the tools and the strength to go into the world and thrive—the gumption and confidence to be a member of society but on our terms,” she explained.

Dr. Kadish congratulated the students as the ceremony concluded, and students joined their families and friends to celebrate their successes.