Yeshiva University will hold its 90th annual commencement in person at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens on Wednesday, May 26, at 1 p.m. Former White House Middle East envoy Jason Dov Greenblatt of Teaneck, a YU alumnus, will deliver the keynote address.
The commencement is the first major event to be held at Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center since the onset of the pandemic. It will give the undergraduate class of 2021 an opportunity to celebrate together with their family and friends in person. The ceremony also will be livestreamed, so observers can join remotely. YU’s announcement was made a week after New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo announced updated commencement guidelines, which allowed gatherings like this one to begin on May 1.
The graduation will follow all of New York State’s strict health and safety protocols and guidelines for commencements and graduations, which include requiring face masks, social distancing, health screenings, and collection of contact tracing information. Attendees will be required to show proof of a recent negative covid-19 test result or proof of completed immunization before being allowed into the stadium.
This year’s ceremony will honor the dedication of YU’s students, rabbeim, faculty, staff, and administrators, who have demonstrated resilience since March 2020, when YU became the first university to shift to virtual learning because of the pandemic. The YU community has led by example, following the school’s values as its compass to ensure the students could have a safe and strong academic year and a large on-campus presence.
“As we have often repeated from the beginning of this journey, our values are our compass, and a ceremony that highlights our values and celebrates the achievements and resilience of our graduates is best done in person,” YU’s president, Dr. Ari Berman of Teaneck, said. “We have had to make repeated adjustments throughout the year due to the changing circumstances, and we are so happy that the new commencement guidelines will enable us to once again celebrate in person with family and friends.”
Mr. Greenblatt also will be presented with an honorary doctorate for his contribution to the historic Abraham Accords. A member of the Trump administration, Mr. Greenblatt was one of the chief architects of the “Peace To Prosperity” plan between Israel and the Palestinians and between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Mr. Greenblatt worked at the White House for three years and was a key player in laying the foundation for the Abraham Accords, through which the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Bahrain, Sudan, and the Kingdom of Morocco normalized relations with Israel. He now focuses on creating what he calls a Middle East 2.0, building economic bridges between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
Mr. Greenblatt is graduate of Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy and Yeshiva College. In 1992, he received a Juris Doctor degree from New York University School of Law. He was a real estate lawyer for Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, was a lawyer for the Trump Organization, and was an adjunct professor of management at YU.
“I am a proud graduate of Yeshiva University and have significantly benefited from its Torah Umadda worldview,” Mr. Greenblatt said. “In accepting this honorary doctorate, I am honored and humbled to join the growing list of Yeshiva University graduates who have played their part in mankind’s never ending quest to make this world a brighter place.”
Mr. Greenblatt joins a long and distinguished list of people who have received honorary doctorates from the university, including former U.S. presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, former Vice President Al Gore, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Israel’s former Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Danny Danon, and former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
In all, more than 1,700 students from Yeshiva College, Stern College for Women, and Sy Syms School of Business, as well as graduate students in law, medicine, social work, education, Jewish studies, and psychology will be awarded degrees from Yeshiva University during its commencement season.