Over 700 Graduates Celebrate at Touro’s Lander Colleges Commencement

College President Urges Grads to Embrace Their Roles in Enriching Society, Projecting Jewish Values Onto Broader World

Date: May 31, 2018
2018 award winners
2018 award winners
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Elisheva Schlam
Executive Director of Communications

New York City—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 Schoolin 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% 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.

Students celebrate milestone event

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, ten-month machine learning program through the Israel Tech Challenge.

Goldmeier emphasized what the Lander education means to him. “Lander College stresses education,” he said. “But that's nothing special, as every college does that.  More importantly, Lander cultivates an environment rich with an understanding of why we educate.  The Rabbeim and faculty have taught us that education isn’t only about memorizing information or a number on a college transcript.  It’s about how that information translates into becoming a better person and a better oved Hashem, something GPA can never measure. “  

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. She said, “when one speaks of “changing the world," one tends to think of the great names in history: Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Christopher Columbus, and others who remind us of the momentous transformations one man or woman can effect. Contemplating one’s own abilities in comparison could well leave one with a sense of hopelessness. But, remember this -- changing the world always begins with changing one’s own immediate circumstances. Change starts small and with oneself, but then radiates outward to affect one’s family, one’s friends, and one’s community. When we look outwards, the results can be earth-shattering.”

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. “We have all heard of Thomas Edison, the brilliant inventor of the light bulb.  What many do not know is the number of times it took a young Thomas Edison to perfect the light bulb. After a particularly trying day at Menlo Park, Edison said, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” Edison would not allow his failures to interfere with his dream of success,” he said. 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.

About the Touro College and University System

Touro is a system of non-profit institutions of higher and professional education. Touro College was chartered in 1970 primarily to enrich the Jewish heritage, and to serve the larger American and global community. Approximately 18,000 students are currently enrolled in its various schools and divisions. Touro College has 29 branch campuses, locations and instructional sites in the New York area, as well as branch campuses and programs in Berlin, Jerusalem and Moscow. New York Medical College; Touro University California and its Nevada branch campus; Touro University Worldwide and its Touro College Los Angeles division; as well as Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Ill. are separately accredited institutions within the Touro College and University System. For further information on Touro College, please go to: www.touro.edu/news.