By: Nachum Lamm  | 

Gore to Speak at YU Dinner (Vol. 61, Issue 6)

Vice President Al Gore and Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone will be the featured speakers at Yeshiva University’s 71st annual Chanukah dinner. Gore will also be awarded an honorary doctorate at the dinner, to be held Sunday, December third, at The Waldorf-Astoria hotel in midtown Manhattan.

The dinner, YU’s largest event of the year, typically attracts six hundred to eight hundred guests, each paying five hundred dollars to attend. In past years, the inner has attracted such speakers as then-Vice President Dan Quayle, General Colin Powell, Senator Bob Dole, and other political leaders from both Israel and the United States. Titled an “Evening in Celebration of Learning and Leadership”, this year’s event will begin with an address by the Vice President at the pre-dinner “convocation”, after which he will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Also receiving honorary degrees will be YU board members and Benefactors S. Daniel Abraham, John D. Cohen, Max Grill, Charles A. Krasne, and Jack and Lewis Rudin. 

Sumner Redstone, chairman of the board of Viacom, which owns cable television companies, Paramount Communications, and Blockbuster Video, will speak at the dinner itself. Also featured at the dinner will be a tribute to the Mozes S. Schupf Foundation, which gave a ten million dollar donation to YU last year. Finally, YU President Norman Lamm will deliver a dvar Torah.

Dinner participants will also be able to make donations of 2,500 to 25,000 dollars and be inscribed in a “scroll of honor.” Their names will then be included on a tribute page in a special edition of the Schottenstein (ArtScroll) Gemara, Maseches Megillah.

According to YU Vice President for Development Daniel Forman, the event provides an opportunity to form “partnerships” and new friendships with potential donors to YU, even though there is no fund raising at the dinner itself, with the cost of admission just covering the cost of the dinner. In addition, the university dinner provides a framework for the individual schools’ (Yeshiva College, RIETS, the High Schools, and others) dinners, which will be occurring in the Spring.

Forman also stated that unlike events held by other institutions, the speakers will not be accepting any compensation. Keynote speakers are usually attracted through friends of theirs in the YU community. Sumner Redstone, for example, who has already spoken at Sy Syms, was invited by YU Academic Vice President William Schwartz, who is also a Viacom board member.

About twenty-five student leaders usually attend the dinner, which YU Director of Media Relations Bruce Bobbins called a “premier event" in Jewish society circles, as well.