AFTAU Gala Raises $2 million for Campus Initiatives
American Friends of Tel Aviv University (AFTAU) raised over $2 million for TAU initiatives, including scholarships, medical research and the Center for Combating Pandemics, at a virtual gala last week.
Hosted by American journalist, author, and TAU alumnus, Jake Tapper, the gala honored Dr. Anita Friedman with the Visionary Leadership Award. Friedman, the Co-chair of TAU's Global Campaign, is a distinguished public service leader dedicated to Jewish and community causes in the U.S. and Israel. In addition to her numerous philanthropic, non-profit sector and advisory roles, she is Executive Director of Jewish Family and Children's Services of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin & Sonoma Counties and President of the Koret Foundation. A speaker, lecturer, author and Holocaust and genocide education expert, Friedman played an instrumental role in forging TAU's recent collaborations with Bay Area institutions, including Stanford University, the Gladstone Institute at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), the Buck Institute, and University of California, Berkeley.
During the event, gala co-chairs Dr. Kathy Fields and Dr. Garry Rayant announced the Fields-Rayant Scholarship Fund in honor of Dr. Anita Friedman to support TAU students. Fields and Rayant are also members of TAU’s Global Campaign Cabinet.
AFTAU also honored second-generation TAU supporters Maya Kadar Kovalsky and Nadav Kadar at the gala with the Changemaker Award. Both TAU alumni and active board members of their family's Naomi Foundation, the Kadar siblings were recognized for their deep ties and generous contributions to the University.
For its third honor of the evening, the gala presented the Trailblazer Award to Israeli author, actress and activist, Noa Tishby.
In acceptance of her Trailblazer Award, Tishby said, “Tel Aviv University encompasses [all of] these values: democracy, diversity, freedom, ingenuity and intelligence. That’s why we are here to support Tel Aviv University tonight, and that’s why the world needs to support Israel.” She continued, speaking to the virtual audience, “You know this and you understand this. Now it is our job to share the truth and beauty and importance of Israel with everyone we can.”
Among the special guests at the gala were President of Israel Isaac Herzog, Mayim Bialik, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Andy Cohen, Gal Gadot, Bill Maher, Debra Messing, and Gideon Raff.
"I fondly remember my years studying at Tel Aviv University’s law school,” said President Herzog, who along with his wife, Michal, is a TAU alumnus. “My studies there pointed me in the right direction and presented avenues I could otherwise never have imagined. When you step up for the University, you step up for the State of Israel."
In his address to the gala, TAU President Prof. Ariel Porat highlighted that each day TAU is advancing the world through innovation, education and impact. “It is a gift to come to this campus every day and know I am surrounded by the most brilliant minds in the world," he said.