By: Chaim Book  | 

Belz Family Gives $20 Million Gift To Renovate, Rename Furst Hall

A $20 million gift by the Belz family will be dedicated to the renovation and rededication of Furst Hall on Wilf Campus, Yeshiva University announced on Monday, Jan. 31. The academic building will be renamed the “Belz Building."

The renovation will focus on updating all classrooms and administrative spaces as well as the interior and exterior of the building. The donation includes a private collection of Judaica and artwork valued at $6 million, which will be put on permanent display on the first floor of the new building in what will be known as the Belz Collections and Galleries. 

A permanent memorial to Sol and Hilda Furst, the building’s previous namesake, will be established in the lobby “with the full support of the Sol and Hilda Furst Foundation,” the press release noted. In October 1962, the building was designated as the Sol and Hilda Furst Hall after the couple gave $1 million to the university’s expansion program at the time. 

The Belz family’s gift provides a significant boost for “Rise Up: The Campaign for 613,” YU’s recently announced campaign that will “fund scholarships, facilities and faculty to help move Yeshiva University into its next great era.” According to its website, the Rise Up campaign has already raised over $256 million. 

“Their lifelong dedication to educating our students, the leaders of tomorrow, reflects the multigenerational partnership between the Belz family and Yeshiva University,” President Ari Berman said in the press release. “I am deeply grateful for our personal friendship and for this extraordinary gift which will profoundly elevate and enhance the YU experience for our students, faculty and entire community.”

The Belz family, founders of the  Belz Museum of Asian & Judaic Art in Downtown Memphis, is famous for their art and philanthropy in their hometown Memphis and throughout the Jewish community. A longstanding supporter of YU, Philip Belz established the Belz School of Jewish Music in 1984 and sat on YU’s Board of Trustees. His son Jack, a trustee emeritus on YU’s board since 1986 and member of the Sy Syms School of Business Board of Overseers, has now furthered his father’s philanthropic legacy.

At the conclusion of the press release, Jack Belz shared, “We have always recognized and admired Yeshiva University and its national and international reputation as the flagship Jewish university that provides a remarkable multifaceted education for its men and women students in their pursuit of excellence in both Jewish education and general education as they pursue such varied careers as rabbinics, law, medicine, psychology, science, finance and other areas.”

Faculty members look forward to the advanced workplace. “I am thrilled that what is now Furst  Hall will be substantially modernized to provide high quality classrooms , offices and other spaces to enhance our educational environment,.” said Karen Bacon, dean of the Undergraduate Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “The Belz Family gift of their Judaica collection represents a true treasure.”

Editor's Note: This article was updated on Feb. 9 to more accurately reflect that the $20 million gift by the Belz family was composed of $14 million and artwork valued at $6 million, not a complete $20 million.

Photo Caption: The building was named Sol and Hilda Furst Hall in 1962.

Photo Credit: The Commentator