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Solomon Scharfstein and Sen. John McCain

Marcy and Sy Syms

Daniel Kurtzer and Richard Joel

Chancellor Norman Lamm and
President Richard Joel

Morry Weiss, Ronald Stanton and
Sen. John McCain

Arnold Penner and wife, Madaleine Berley, with
Sen. John McCain


McCain Vows West
Will Defeat Terrorism

By Tim Boxer

ESHIVA University president Richard Joel handed an honorary degree to Ktav publisher Solomon Scharfstein, but it took some effort to place the hood properly over his head.

"Don’t worry," Joel said. "This is a hooding, not a hanging."

At the 82nd annual Hanukkah convocation at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, Joel conferred honorary degrees also on Yeshiva College graduate Daniel Kurtzer, the former ambassador to Egypt and Israel; Felix Leo Glaubach, founder of Personal Touch Home Care; Ronald Stanton; Marcy Syms, and real estate investor Arnold Penner.

Penner had several friends help lay the hood properly around his shoulders. President Joel turned to the 800 assembled guests and asked, "Anybody else want to come up?"

In presenting a degree to Syms, Joel said that he had obtained his tuxedo at her apparel store. He noted that there are 40 Syms discount stores nationwide – "wherever there is a primary."

That elicited a grin from Senator John McCain, who got a diploma too. "Only in America," he said, "can an Episcopalian, who finished fifth from the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy, receive an honorary doctorate from the country’s great Jewish university."

Having spent his stock of humor, the senator launched into a political analysis worthy of a Republican contender for the 2008 race to the White House.

In spite of the threat of armies and terrorists, he said, Israel has prospered in the most dangerous neighborhood on earth. "There will always, always be an Israel."

He supported Israel’s refusal to talk with the Palestinian Authority as long as it is led by Hamas, which he said is "a terrorist syndicate." He called Iran "a possibly deranged and surely dangerous regime." In Lebanon he warned that Hezbollah must not be deployed in the south and that is must be disarmed.

"We will defeat terrorism against America, and we will stand with Israel as she fights the same enemy," he said.

McCain called for spreading democracy and ending the traditional support of pro-American dictators. "If the despair, the alienation and the disenfranchisement wrought in Middle East autocracies contribute to the horrors of international terrorism, we owe it to ourselves and the world to promote change."

Ronald Stanton, founder and chairman of Transammonia, a company that distributes petrochemicals and crude oil, merited extraordinary recognition for his recent gift of $100 million to YU.

Joel commented, "As his late mother would say, ‘$100 million isn’t what it used to be.’"

Stanton remarked that the number 2 has special meaning in his life. He has two children and two grandchildren. He had two jobs in his life. He has two tuxedos. And he’s had two wives.

"I was hoping you’d say $200 million," Joel sighed.

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