By: Ariel Kahan  | 

YU Hosts 98th Annual Chanukah Dinner

Over 500 guests attended Yeshiva University’s 98th annual Chanukah Dinner at The Glasshouse on Dec. 4. 

At the dinner, President Berman announced that with an additional $100 million raised this year, the Rise Up Campaign had passed its half-way mark to raising 613 million dollars, with the current sum standing at 350 million dollars. 

The dinner had a different format than past Chanukah Dinners to accommodate the goal of showcasing the impact of the Rise Up campaign on Yeshiva University. 

“The change in format this year was part of a change in fundraising strategy,” Ellen Finkelstein, Yeshiva University's chief strategy officer told The Commentator. “We opted to use the dinner as a stewardship tool — inviting donors in the President’s Society to join us as a thank you for their generosity and to encourage our donors to increase their annual gifts. All President’s Society gifts made in the current fiscal year were honored this way.” 

The annual dinner, which dates back until at least 1928, has historically taken place at a hotel in Midtown and is intended to raise funds for the university, which are subsequently directed towards student scholarships, raising faculty salaries and university projects. 

The dinner was planned and run by the Office of Institutional Advancement with input from the Office of Events, the President’s Office and “engaged lay leaders,” Finkelstein told The Commentator. 

According to Finkelstein, the dinner took months to plan, and many venues were looked at before they ultimately chose the Glasshouse, “which felt fresh and exciting for our new format.”

The planning team also spent months preparing the specific program for the evening, which included holograms of students speaking about the impact of scholarships on their experience at YU, a 3D model of the newly announced Belz Building, touch screen installations and a pop-up theater showcasing videos of the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, all made highlight the impact of the gifts given to Yeshiva University. 

The program also featured an introduction of President Berman by Rise Up Campaign chairs Anita Zucker and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who announced record success in the first year of the campaign, and entertainment by Chris Norton and his band, which played several sets together with Shulem Lemmer.

YU also made tickets available at a discounted price to alumni under 30 years old, resulting in over 80 attending. 

The decision was welcomed by some alumni, such as Dovid Simpser (SSSB ‘18).

“It's heartwarming to see YU investing in its young alumni. For those of us just starting our careers, having an affordable option was truly appreciated,” said Simpser “It was truly a pleasure reconnecting with old friends, classmates, teachers and administrators.”

The Rise Up campaign, announced last year, seeks to raise $613 million over the next five years to meet the evolving needs of YU students and faculty, create more innovative and entrepreneurial initiatives and develop state-of-the-art facilities.

Senator Joe Lieberman told The Commentator that the dinner “captured the spirit of the new YU and moved it forward.”

“The YU Chanukah dinner captured the spirit of the new YU and moved it forward,” said Lieberman. “There were many new faces there, and the food was creatively prepared and presented,The event locale at The Glasshouse on the West Side is spectacular. All in all, a great event for YU and everyone there.” 

President Berman also emphasized the importance and the campaign and dinner and the effect it had on our community. 

“Our driving emphasis on our students’ success is inspired by our holy mission to live in God’s image and spread God’s values to the next generations and our broader society,” said Berman.
 “The celebration at the Hanukkah Dinner and continued success of the campaign are a testament to how much our YU community believes in our students as the leaders of tomorrow who will spread the light of God to the world. It’s critically important for their future and the larger mission of the Jewish people to ensure that they have the scholarships, faculty and facilities that will enable them to succeed professionally and personally. We have a higher calling: ha-kol lechvodo.”

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Photo Caption: President Berman speaks at YU’s 98th annual dinner

Photo Credit: Yeshiva University