Six Americans to Receive Bar-Ilan's Presidential Award of Distinction

Awards to be Presented on May 14th in Israel

As it celebrates its 60th anniversary, Bar-Ilan University (BIU) has inaugurated the Presidential Award of Distinction. The University has chosen six Americans to receive this Award – Eli Hirmes, of Lawrence, NY and Bal Harbour, Florida; Laurie Moskowitz Hirsch, of Aventura, Florida; Dr. Don Lebell, of New York, NY; Gary Ran, of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; Dr. Joseph D. Rosenblatt, of Hollywood, Florida, and Alice Neuman Schoenfeld, of Beverly Hills, California.

In making the announcement, Rabbi Prof. Daniel Hershkowitz, President of BIU, said, “I am delighted that the University is recognizing the impressive contributions of these individuals, who share a profound commitment to the mission of Bar-Ilan and have demonstrated inspirational communal leadership and generosity. In addition, they all appreciate the importance of higher education in shaping the Jewish future. They share with us an abiding love for Israel and the Zionist values upon which it was built.”

Alice Neuman Schoenfeld — 
Supporting Bar-Ilan for Over 35 Years

For Alice Neuman Schoenfeld, this is a particularly emotional moment in her life as she thinks back on her childhood, when her family was forced to hide from the Nazis. She was nine and living with her parents and sister, Edith, in Slovakia when the Nazis occupied her town. Her life story is well documented in her inspirational autobiography, From Ungvar to Beverly Hills, One Survivor's Journey. It was this life-altering experience that led Alice and her late beloved husband, Oscar, z”l, to support many religious Zionist causes. They were among the original founders of the largest synagogue in Beverly Hills, Beth Jacob Congregation, and have been supporting Bar-Ilan University for over 35 years.

Dr. Don Lebell — 
Advancing Doctoral Scholarships and Strategies for Growth

World War II also helped to shape the early life of Dr. Don Lebell, who served as a Naval Officer during the War. After earning his PhD in Systems Engineering from UCLA, Don went on to serve as USC’s University Research Coordinator and adjunct professor of Engineering and Management before launching his successful consulting firm.  Don is the author of three books, most recently, Weapons of Mass Survival.  He now provides pro-bono consulting for non-profits concerned with weapons proliferation, anti-Semitism, and education challenges. At Bar-Ilan, Dr. Lebell advances doctoral scholarships and strategies for self-sustaining growth of science, medicine and the liberal arts.  He is married to Jane Stern Lebell, Honorary President of the American Friends of Bar-Ilan University (AFBIU).

Eli Hirmes —
Driven by a Love of Judaism and Zionism

Eli Hirmes’ long-time support for Bar-Ilan University has been driven by the mutual core values he shares with the University – a love of Judaism and Zionism. Eli and his wife, Greta, have been exemplary supporters of BIU for many years - annually providing scholarships for students at The Ludwig and Erica Jesselson Institute of Advance Torah Studies, often called “The Machon.”  The Hirmes have sponsored a classroom in the Midrasha in memory of Greta's parents.  A long-time Board member of the American Friends of Bar- Ilan University, Eli has also played a pivotal role in securing major gifts for the University.  Among the other causes the Hirmes support are the HAFTR School, Yeshiva University, Congregation Beth Sholom in Lawrence, NY, and Emunah of America.  Eli is a past chairman of The Five Towns Jewish Council.  In his professional career, he was a successful CPA.

Gary Ran  — 
Energizing the Detroit Jewish Community's Support for BIU and its Medical School

Gary Ran is being recognized for the leadership role he has played in re-energizing the Detroit Jewish community’s support for BIU and its new Medical School. The grandson of the University’s first Global Chairman, Phillip Stollman z”l, he has carried on his family’s multi-generational support for Bar-Ilan. A founding Partner of Telemus Capital, Gary serves as the firm’s Chairman. Prior to forming Telemus in 2005, Gary served as a First Vice President of Investments at Merrill Lynch and as Senior Vice President of Investments at UBS Financial Services. He has been repeatedly selected as one of “America’s Top 100 Advisors” and “America’s Top Independent Advisors” by Barron’s magazine. Gary is active in many local and national charitable causes.

Laurie Moskowitz Hirsch — 
Continuing a Strong Family Legacy of Support for BIU

Laurie Moskowitz Hirsch is also continuing a strong family legacy of support for BIU. The daughter of Dr. Irving and Cherna Moskowitz, who established the Chair for the Land of Israel Studies at BIU (one of many generous gifts), Laurie is highly active in BIU affairs. She is a leader of the AFBIU’s Southeast Region, and serves as a member of the AFBIU Board of Overseers. In addition, Laurie serves on the Boards of Americans for a Safe Israel, the Israel Committee of Greater Miami and Aventura, Nefesh b'Nefesh, the Hebron Fund, Yashar L'Chayal, the Statesmanship Center for Strategic Planning, and the Cherna and Dr. Irving Moskowitz Foundation.

Dr. Joseph D. Rosenblatt  —
Visionary Consultant to the BIU Medical School in Safed

Joseph D. Rosenblatt, M.D. has been a visionary consultant to the BIU Medical School in Safed since its inception, continually demonstrating his commitment to advancing the School’s work to improve the quality of healthcare in the Galilee. He is a Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology and Chief of the Hematology-Oncology Division at the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, with a special interest in the development of cancer research programs and the delivery of cancer care both in the United States and Israel. Dr. Rosenblatt is a member of the Israel Cancer Research Fund’s Scientific Review Panel, which includes prominent physicians in North America. He and his family are members of Young Israel of Hollywood-Fort Lauderdale.

All the recipients will be presented with the Award at the opening ceremony of BIU’s 60th Anniversary Mission and Board of Trustees Gala Dinner taking place on May 14th in Jerusalem.

To learn more about the Bar-Ilan projects being supported by the Presidential Award winners, call Howard Charish at 212-906-3910 or email


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