UB’s Department of Jewish Thought was delighted to host its 2019 graduation and awards celebration for its graduating students and award winners. The event took place on Tuesday April 30, 2019 at 7 pm in the Samuel J. Friedman Library in Clemens Hall.
The evening was dedicated to honoring one of our major supporters, Gretchen Gross and the late Gordon Gross. The vision of an internationally recognized Department of Jewish Thought at UB devoted to the academic study of the Jewish tradition would not have come to fruition without their dedication and support. We were extremely gratified that so many members of the Gross family were able to come.
Along with presenting a special diploma to three of our graduating students and two of our award winners, we gave our students the chance to speak. Sofia Paulino, who is currently a BA Nursing and Minor Jewish Studies and 2018 winner of the Irving M. and Marilyn C. Shuman Scholarship, highlighted how “whenever I went in to see any of the Professors, they always began with ‘How are you? How has your day been?’ And you don’t see that a lot.” She emphasized that “whatever you believe in, you are welcome in this department.” Louis J. Eisenhauer, who is graduating with a BA in Jewish Studies, reminisced about all the positive experiences he has had, stating that “I love this place. I am sad not to be coming back for classes.”
We also were fortunate to have our alumnus, Logan Woodard (‘17) give the keynote address. He is currently the Coordinator of Jewish Student Life and Ezra Fellow at the University at Buffalo Hillel. Reflecting on his college journey, he spoke about the difficulty of predicting one’s future and the constant surprises in life. He shared a lesson he learned from studying Mussar—the importance of stepping outside one’s comfort zone and embracing change, to run towards success even among life’s constant ups and downs.
We also welcomed two of our newest minors, Fahema Ferdous and Peretz Shuman. Fahema is working on a research project with Prof Dolgopolski on conformity and social media. Peretz spoke about the importance of striving to improve the world, especially after participating in UB Hillel’s Alternative Spring Break volunteering in Miami.
We were so thankful to have so many members of the community join us to both honor Gordon’s memory and to help celebrate the achievements of our students. We hope that all our guests will keep in touch and know that they are always invited to come to lectures, audit classes and be part of the ongoing life of the department.