NEW YORK (Mar. 9)
More than 1,500 persons crowded into the Nathan Lamport Auditorium of Yeshiva University today to witness the conferring of an honorary doctorate upon President Zalman Shazar of Israel who arrived here yesterday on behalf of various Israeli fund-raising drives. At a special convocation at Yeshiva University, Dr. Samuel Belkin, president of the university, conferred the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree upon Shazar who received an enthusiastic and prolonged standing ovation from the audience. Addressing the gathering of university administrators, directors, faculty, students and friends, Shazar said: “The most fearful danger threatening communities in affluent countries is ignorance of Jewishness on the part of both masses and intellectuals.” He cited Yeshiva University as among the “pioneers” whose “efforts in study and education” caused “Jewish learning to flourish in America.”
The 81-year-old statesman noted that many scholars who had been trained in the university have been “successfully absorbed into the cultural and communal life of Israel” and expressed his hope that a branch of the university be set up in Israel, a possibility much discussed amongst Y.U. officials. The honor accorded Shazar, who also holds honorary degrees from Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, Bar-Ilan, the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York and Dropsie University in Philadelphia, came after some eight years of “seeking to match schedules” according to Dr. Belkin Since May, 1963. when Shazar was elected President, the Israeli leader and the university sought the one day they might join together, Dr. Belkin related. The warm emotional exchange between the Israeli President and those who came to honor him climaxed the eight-year waiting period. The convocation began with a processional of Yeshiva University administrators, trustees and faculty members who marched down the aisles to the strains of the popular Israeli melody, second only to “Hatikvah” “Yerushalayim. Shal Zahav” (Jerusalem of gold).
Bowing his head to receive the traditional hood from Dr. Belkin, Shazar told the audience that the reason he was receiving this honor was not for his own merits, but “because of the central position in Jewish life held by the State of Israel which I serve to symbolize.” The twinkling-eyed gray-haired leader accepted the honor and told the audience that he prayed for the day “when the spiritual radiance of the Holy City of Jerusalem will shed its unifying blessing upon all our scattered people, whatever their particular creed or shade of opinion.” He begged those “endowed with the gifts of learning, talent and understanding of the eternal values of our people and the present-day needs of this generation” to make “aliya” to Israel and “give it their wisdom and scholarship.” The ceremonies ended with the moving singing of the Israeli national anthem “Hatikvah.” Members of the recessional stepped lively to the popular tune “Am Yisroel Chai” (The Nation of Israel Lives) played with “soul” by the Yeshiva University band called “The Chosen Ones”