Local donors invest in Israeli higher education

Local donors invest in Israeli higher education

Jaffa-based college names building after Josh and Judy Weston

Staff Writer, New Jersey Jewish News

Josh Weston, left, in Israel with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, right, and Amir Shacham, director of UJC MetroWest’s Israel office.
Josh Weston, left, in Israel with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, right, and Amir Shacham, director of UJC MetroWest’s Israel office.

Montclair philanthropist Josh Weston was named an honorary fellow of the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yafo as part of a Nov. 16 ceremony dedicating the institution’s Josh and Judy Weston School of Management and Economics Building.

The edifice is the third to be erected on the new central campus of the college, which was founded in 1994 to serve able students who are economically or otherwise disadvantaged. The college is situated in Jaffa, a diverse neighborhood of wealthy and poor, Arabs and Jews, new immigrants and native Israelis.

Weston, who serves as president of the Tel Aviv Foundation and supports a variety of education initiatives in Israel, placed education high on his list of priorities for Israel.

“A key determinant of the success of the next generation of Israeli adults is their younger education,” said Weston in a phone interview. “What they are doing in school is important.”

But, he said, he doesn’t like what he sees, from public schools that let out at 1:30 every day to the country’s high teacher turnover. In one generation, he said, Israel’s ranking in worldwide high school science and math tests dropped from third or fourth place to 37th.

“That is quite a flop, don’t you think?” said Weston. “Science and math is not everything. But if you use it as an index, it’s a pretty bad indicator.”

Weston is retired from Automatic Data Processing after a long history of leadership. He joined the computing services business in 1970, serving as chief executive officer from 1982 to 1996 and also as chief operating officer and chairman and honorary chairman of the board, in addition to serving on the boards of a range of other companies.

In a brief video created for the dedication, he described strengthening Israel’s education sector as “even more important than straightening out things with Hizbullah and Hamas.”

“My biggest wish for Israel is for educational outcomes to be much improved,” Weston says in the video, in which he is interviewed by United Jewish Communities of MetroWest executive vice president Max Kleinman.

Weston became involved in the Tel Aviv Foundation through Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, whom he met in a “think tank” encounter organized by UJC MetroWest when Huldai was a high school principal.

The Westons are major contributors to UJC MetroWest and other area Jewish philanthropies. The Judy & Josh Weston Assisted Living Residence at the Lester Senior Housing Community in Whippany is named in their honor.

“Josh well deserves this honor,” said Kleinman. “He has been a passionate supporter, philanthropically and otherwise, of schools and programs that enhance the educational achievements of Israelis in robotics, science, and other fields that will help Israel maintain its greatest strategic asset: the quality of its human capital.”

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