By: David Chriqui  | 

Senator John Fetterman Receives YU’s Presidential Medallion at 93rd Commencement

Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania received Yeshiva University’s presidential medallion, the school’s highest award, at YU’s 93rd commencement at Louis Armstrong Stadium May 29. 

Fetterman, a Democrat, was first elected to the Senate in November 2022, defeating Republican candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz in the only Senate race of the year to flip control of a seat. Fetterman previously served as lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania from 2019 and mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania for over thirteen years. 

Since his election, Fetterman has emerged as a strong supporter of Israel in the Senate, voting to condemn Hamas and Iran’s attacks on Israel and supporting increased military aid. Fetterman has consistently emphasized publicly his support of a strong alliance between Israel and the United States and has been critical of anti-Israel politicians and activists, even of his own party, publicly condemning anti-Israel demonstrations and encampments on college campuses.

In his speech, Fetterman emphasized the importance of combating rising antisemitism and supporting Israel in its war against Hamas. “My voice and my office will stand with Israel,” he proclaimed. Fetterman later spoke about the importance of bringing all of the hostages home. “I will not stop speaking out until every last hostage is brought back home now.”

During his address, Fetterman removed his academic hood of his alma mater, Harvard University, to express his disappointment with the university’s failure to address antisemitic incidents on campus. After removing the hood, Fetterman received a standing ovation.

“Today, I have been profoundly disappointed [by] Harvard’s inability to stand up for the Jewish community after Oct. 7,” he said. “And for me personally, I do not fundamentally believe that it’s right for me to wear this today.” 

Fetterman also reiterated his commitment to stand by the Jewish community. “The Jewish community everywhere deserves our support, and I promise you will always have mine,” Fetterman stated.

YU President Ari Berman introduced Fetterman during the ceremony, highlighting the senator's commitment to the Jewish community. “In a time when so many are content to mow the words of justice while shrinking from its demands, your actions are a beacon in the nights, they call us to a higher standard, a higher purpose,” he said. “That is the constant of your career, a commitment to do the right thing regardless of whether it’s popular. Since Oct. 7, that commitment has led you to become perhaps the single greatest friend on Capitol Hill to the State of Israel, the Jewish people, and to all people of good conscience.”

Berman, Provost Selma Botman and Chairman of YU’s Board of Trustees Ira Mitzner also spoke at the ceremony. The commencement included a concert with Mordechai Shapiro as well, during which Fetterman joined in dancing with graduates.


Photo Caption: Sen. Fetterman removing the academic hood of Harvard University while addressing graduating students

Photo Credit: Yeshiva University