White House Chief Of Staff
Equal To Spain’s Abarbanel
ICHARD JOEL, president of Yeshiva
University, bestowed honorary degrees on four accomplished
individuals at the 88th convocation in December at
the Waldorf-Astoria. He presented honorary degrees of doctor of
humane letters to Stanley Raskas, Moise Y.
and Dianne Wassner.
Jack Lew, President
Barak Obama’s former chief of staff, received an honorary
doctorate of laws. "You are one of the highest ranking Orthodox
Jewish advisers to a head of state since the Abarbanel," Joel
said. [Don Isaac Abarbanel, 1437-1508, a financial genius
and biblical commentator, served as royal treasurer to
Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain prior to the
Stanley Raskas, chairman of
Yeshiva College board of overseers, was a member of the fourth
generation of a family that operated Raskas Holdings, the
nation’s largest manufacturer of private-label cream cheese.
Founded in 1888 in St. Louis, the family enterprise was sold in
2002 to Schreiber Foods for close to $100 million.
Stanley, 68, can claim his grandfather
was born in America, his father born in Europe, and Stanley born
It turns out that Stanley’s
grandfather, Louis Raskas, left St. Louis after his bar
mitzvah to continue his studies at the Slobodka Yeshiva in
Kovno, Lithuania. That’s where Stanley’s father was born. His
father returned to St. Louis, where Stanley was born.
Moise Safra was born 77 years ago in
Beirut into a Jewish banking family from Aleppo, Syria. Arab
riots following the creation of Israel drove the family to
Brazil where they established their banking empire. Today Moise
oversees M. Safra & Co. in Sao Paulo and New York.
Diane Wassner was born in Lvov,
Poland. When her family was arrested in the Shoah, she sneaked
morsels of food to her father and uncle. She was the only one of
her family to survive the Holocaust. Joel commended Wassner, the
national vice president of Yeshiva University Women’s
Organization, for her extravagant support of scholarships.
The YU dinner following the
convocation raised $3.8 million.