Dr. Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, professor of social medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and a renowned researcher, will be awarded the Presidential Medallion in recognition of her groundbreaking work in cardiovascular disease.
Ambassador Oren will also deliver the keynote address to the more than 2,000 graduate students in the fields of law, medicine, social work, education, Jewish studies and psychology, and undergraduate students from Yeshiva College, Stern College for Women and Sy Syms School of Business who will be awarded degrees.
“Each individual we are honoring embodies our university’s principles and commitment to Jewish values and to innovative thinking that impacts the greater community,” said President Joel. “It is our hope that our graduates will be uplifted and inspired by the magnitude of their accomplishments.”
A graduate of Princeton and Columbia, Ambassador Oren was formerly the Lady Davis Fellow of Hebrew University, a Moshe Dayan Fellow at Tel-Aviv University and the Distinguished Fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard, Yale and Georgetown.
Ambassador Oren has written extensively for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The New Republic, where he was a contributing editor. His two most recent books, Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East and Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present, were both New York Times bestsellers.
Raised in New Jersey, where he was an activist in Zionist youth movements and a gold medal-winning athlete in the Maccabia Games, Ambassador Oren moved to Israel in the 1970s. He served as an officer in the Israel Defense Forces, in the paratroopers in the first Lebanon War, a liaison with the US Sixth Fleet during the Gulf War and an IDF spokesman during the Second Lebanon War and the Gaza operation in January 2009.
Ambassador Oren acted as an Israeli emissary to Jewish refuseniks in the Soviet Union, as an advisor to Israel's delegation to the United Nations and as the government's director of Inter-Religious Affairs. He has testified before Congress and briefed the White House on Middle Eastern affairs and has served as Israel’s ambassador since May 2009.
Dr. Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller is a professor in the Department of Epidemiology & Population Health and head of the Division of Epidemiology at YU’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She has been an investigator in groundbreaking clinical trials in hypertension and in cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Smoller was the Principal Investigator in the Women’s Health Initiative, a multi-center study including over 160,000 women. She escaped the Holocaust with her parents through the efforts of Japanese Consul Chiune Sugihara and published a novel about World War II entitled, Rachel and Aleks based on her family’s history.