By: Rikki Zagelbaum  | 

YU Announces New Joseph Lieberman Center for Public Service and Advocacy

Yeshiva University is establishing a new Joseph Lieberman Center for Public Service and Advocacy. Still in its initial stages of planning, and announced at this year’s annual Hanukkah Dinner, this center aims to equip the next generation of Jewish leaders with the tools and values needed to cultivate impactful careers in politics and government. 

The center, also called the Lieberman-Mitzner Center by YU Director of Communications Hanan Eisenman in an email to The Commentator, is named for Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Jewish American politician and lobbyist who served as a United States senator from Connecticut from 1989 to 2013. The center was dedicated by the Ira Mitzner and Riva Collins families, with a gift of $10 million.

“The living legacy of Senator Lieberman as a model of faith in the public square and civility across the political aisle has long inspired the Yeshiva University community,” Eisenman told The Commentator. “We are thrilled that current chairman of the Board of Trustees Ira Mitzner, and his family, have generously gifted YU the opportunity to celebrate this impactful and inspiring leader of our community and role model for our students.” 

According to Eisenman, the center seeks to promote political engagement, deeply rooted in Jewish thought and values and a strong connection to Israel. In response to a question regarding what will make this center distinct, Eisenman said that each center at YU — such as the Fish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought and the Sacks-Herenstein Center for Values and Leadership —  has a distinct mission. Eisenman did not respond to questions about whether the center would teach classes or whether it would compete for students with Straus.

Sharon Poczter, chair of the strategy and entrepreneurship department at the Sy Syms School of Business, will be the center's founding director. 

“Dr. Poczter is a natural choice,” Eisenman said. “She will be working with the Senator and relevant faculty across our undergraduate and graduate schools as she builds out the vision for the Center in a collaborative manner.” 

Eisenman did not respond to multiple requests for comment about Poctzer’s past political experience.

The Lieberman Center is actively recruiting incoming honors students who have “demonstrated, during their high school years, a commitment” to Jewish advocacy and public service, Eisenman told The Commentator. Ideal cohort members are students who may have participated in internships with local or state politicians, volunteered with Jewish non-profit organizations, or initiated their own projects in public service, advocacy, or politics. Students accepted as Lieberman Scholars will receive scholarships of up to $25,000 per year for up to three years. 

“From the halls of Congress to the YU classroom, Senator Lieberman has long demonstrated a commitment to the values we hold dear at Yeshiva University,” Provost Selma Botman shared with The Commentator. “His personal warmth, passionate patriotism, and depth of devotion to embodying the very best of the Jewish tradition of statesmanship ensure that all those educated by the Lieberman-Mitzner Center, shaped in his image, will be deeply enriched by the experience.”