Haifa University honors Mass. governor

BOSTON (JTA) — Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick received an honorary doctorate from the University of Haifa.

The honorary doctor of philosophy degree, which was awarded Oct. 6 in a statehouse ceremony, cites Patrick, the state’s first African-American governor, for his leadership and contribution to social equality, protection of religious freedom and civil rights, and promoting friendship with Israel.

In June 2008, Patrick signed a landmark 10-year, $1 billion life sciences law that authorized joint academic and industrial research and business exchanges with Israel.

“Governor Patrick has committed himself personally to acting upon his dedication to civil rights and against discrimination and to ensure religious freedom,” university President Aaron Ben-Ze’ev said during the hourlong ceremony.

Patrick joins a list of 141 past honorees including Tony Blair, Jimmy Carter, Vaclav Havel, Chaim Herzog and Elie Wiesel. Past Boston-area awardees include Myra Kraft, and Barry Shrage, president of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies, both of whom spoke at the event.

In his remarks, Patrick recalled the challenge of growing up on the south side of Chicago. He praised the university for its focus on community service and fostering mutual respect between Jews and Arabs in the time-honored quest for knowledge.

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