The Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), an affiliate of Yeshiva University (YU), is holding its Annual Gala Evening of Tribute on March 8 at The Grand Hyatt in New York City to honor Jewish leaders and educators.
The dinner is to be held in honor of Herb Smilowitz z''l, who sat on the RIETS board for over 20 years and recently was vice chairman. He donated actively to the Jewish community, dedicating a beit midrash study hall and several Jewish day schools to the community of West Orange, New York.
Smilowitz received numerous awards through his work at RIETS, including the Father/Son Israel America Award in 2008 with his son Rabbi Mark Smilowitz of Beit Shemesh in Israel. In the event in March, his lifetime achievements will be celebrated and honored.
Describing RIETS, its chair Joel Schreiber said "vital in its approach and vibrant in its tradition, RIETS has provided an unsurpassed educational experience in the classic mold of the great yeshivot for more than a century. The seminary is a fountain of great Torah wisdom and a pre-eminent source of professional Rabbinic leadership for the next generation and beyond."
Aside from Smilowitz, the event is also to honor Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the Orthodox Union (OU) Kosher Division, and Rabbi Ronald Schwarzberg, director of the Morris and Gertrude Bienenfeld Department of Jewish Career Development and Placement at YU’s Center for the Jewish Future.
Rabbi Genack, a student of the famous Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, will receive the Harav Yosef Dov Halevi Soloveitchik z”l Aluf Torah Award for his positive impact on Judaism worldwide. As CEO of OU Kosher, he oversees the kosher certification of more than 600,000 products in 10,500 facilities in more than 80 countries, and has also published scholarly works as founder and general editor of OU Press.
Former US President Bill Clinton even called Rabbi Genack his rabbi in a forward written for the rabbi's recent book "Letters to President Clinton: Biblical Lessons on Faith and Leadership," and Rabbi Genack also studies weekly with former US Senator Joe Lieberman.
Rabbi Ronald Schwarzberg for his part is to receive the Distinguished Rabbinic Leadership Award. Rabbi Schwarzberg has served as director of the Morris and Gertrude Bienenfeld Department of Jewish Career Development and Placement for Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future since 2005.
Aside from serving previously as a community rabbi in Highland Park New Jersey, the rabbi developed Ahavas Achim University, an innovative and far-reaching educational endeavor that enlists top-tier scholars and religious leaders to teach at the synagogue.