At the 122nd Graduation Exercises of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC- JIR) in New York, Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman, HUC-JIR President, will award the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, to a group of outstanding individuals for their unique contributions to human understanding and ethical beliefs. The honorary D.H.L. recipients are Betty Friedan, Miles Lerman, Arno Allan Penzias, and John H. Slade.
President Zimmerman will also bestow earned degrees, including the Doctor of Ministry, Master of Arts in Hebrew Literature, Master of Sacred Music, Master of Arts in Religious Education, and Master of Arts in Judaic Studies to 36 graduate students of the College- Institute. Graduation ceremonies will be held on Thursday, May 15, 8:00 pm in the Minnie Petrie Synagogue of HUC-JIR, located at One West 4th Street, Manhattan.
Miles Lerman, one of the honorary D.H.L. recipients, will be the Graduation Speaker. A businessman in the Petroleum Industry and Real Estate, Lerman fought as a partisan in the forests of southern Poland during the Holocaust of World War II, and was appointed by President Clinton in 1993 as Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. In 1980, he was appointed by President Carter to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. He served as Chairman of the Council's Committee of International Relations and was instrumental in the negotiation of formal agreements with the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union, the governments of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and East Germany, which allowed the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to bring to Washington D.C. authentic artifacts of destruction such as a barracks from Birkenau, and a railroad car used to transport Jews from Warsaw to the death camp of Treblinka. Lerman also served as National Chairman of the Campaign to Remember and led the effort to raise $190 million to build and equip the Museum in Washington, D.C. He served as National Vice Chairman of the Israel Bond Organization and in recognition for his distinguished service, he was presented by the Prime Minister of the State of Israel with the medal of achievement.
A renowned spokesperson for women's rights, Betty Friedan's 1963 book, The Feminine Mystique, sent shock waves through the country and is now regarded as the catalytic work of the women's movement. She is a founder of the National Organization of Women (NOW), National Women's Political Caucus, and National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), She is currently an adjunct Scholar at the Wilson International Center for Scholars at the Smithsonian and Distinguished Professor of Social Evolution at Mount Vernon College. She is also the author of The Second Stage and It Changed My Life. Her most recent book, The Fountain of Age, is based on 10 years of research on changing sex roles and the aging process.
Nobel Prize winner Dr. Arno A. Penzias is Vice President and Chief Scientist of Lucent Technologies, Bell Lab Innovations. As a scientist, Penzias is best known for his work in radio astronomy. Through an instrument he and Robert Wilson developed, they were able to detect radiation remains from the origin of the universe, which grounded the Big Bang theory in scientific observation and led to radically new developments in astrophysics and cosmology, earning them the 1978 Nobel Prize for Physics. Penzias received his Doctorate in Physics from Columbia University and began his scientific career in 1961 when he joined Bell Laboratories, where he conducted research in radio communication and participated in the pioneering Echo and Telstar(R) communications satellite experiments. He is a sought-after speaker on emerging trends and has written articles on information technology and its impact on business and society. He is the author of Ideas and Information and the recent Digital Harmony: Business, Technology and Life After Paperwork.
John H. Slade is the Senior Managing Director of the investment house of Bear, Stearns and Co., where he started as a runner in 1936. Born Hans Schlesinger in Frankfurt, Germany, he was an outstanding athlete as a youth and a candidate for the country's field hockey team in the 1936 Olympics. The Nazis barred him from the team because he was Jewish, and he fled to the United States a short time after. In World War II, he served with distinction, receiving a Bronze Star for Bravery. Following the war, he was the goalie for the United States Olympic Field Hockey Team at the London games. Slade is a strong supporter of American Jewish and Israeli educational, cultural, and philanthropic organizations.