Jon Gurkoff Elected Chairman of American Friends of Tel Aviv University Thursday, June 2, 2011
New Jersey business exec approaches the post with energy, commitment, and a plan for growth
With unanimous consent, Jon Gurkoff was elected Chairman of the Board of American Friends of Tel Aviv University on May 23, 2011. For the past year he has served as Treasurer of the organization.
Gurkoff is the CEO and a principal shareholder of Ada Products Company, Inc, a manufacturer and distributor of dental products.
Accepting the post, he called it "an uplifting challenge" — but one that would be impossible without the support of his still-active predecessors and the members of the Board. Noting that he has "large shoes to fill" in replacing William F. Cohen, he applauded the course Bill steered during his very productive service as national Chairman. He spoke highly of his friend and advisor, Chairman Emeritus Alan Aufzein, and paid tribute to Chairman Emeritus Mel Taub, his father-in-law and role model.
Observing with affection that AFTAU is fortunate to have Jon in the chairman's post, Taub spoke of his true love for Tel Aviv University and for Israel, calling him "a bulldog for his passions."
Planning an active term
Central to Gurkoff's vision for the next two years, he says, is "to build on the strong foundations we have, and to grow our Board," raising TAU's visibility to enhance fundraising in America.
"This organization is poised to make a significant leap forward, and I'm gratified to have wonderful partners who are committed for our success," Gurkoff notes. TAU Board of Governors Chairman Harvey Krueger "will be most important in providing leadership for TAU, and his support will be immeasurable," as will that of AFTAU's active Secretary Marshall Polk and newly elected Treasurer Michael Shaoul.
Applauding the recent addition of President & CEO Gail Reiss to lead AFTAU's skilled and dedicated professional staff, Gurkoff says, "All the ingredients are there to grow our organization and tell the story of TAU effectively throughout the country. This should be an exciting time for AFTAU."
Gurkoff also serves on the Tel Aviv University Board of Governors, its primary governing body, and has visited the campus numerous times over four decades.
A deep connection to Israel
Since his first visit to Israel in July 1967 just after the Six Day War, Gurkoff has been deeply committed to the State of Israel. As a young college graduate in the early 1970's, he worked for the United Jewish Appeal's University Programs Department, travelling to college campuses around the country to start or enhance UJA campaigns. He also led several student leadership and Young Leadership missions to Israel, and during successive summers, lived in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in 1973 and 1974.
Those experiences had a profound impact on him, shaping his conviction that developing a relationship between Jewish youth and Israel is vital. Tel Aviv University's TAU International study abroad program is an ideal vehicle for this, he suggests. "Inspiring students to choose TAU's overseas program will have a long-term impact on our ability to grow awareness and commitment from Americans in the future."
A commitment to community
In America, Gurkoff has long been active in Jewish communal organizations.
He is a past President and General Campaign Chairman of the Jewish Federation of Greater Clifton/Passaic, NJ; past Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Passaic Beth Israel Hospital in Passaic, NJ; past member of the National Young Leadership Cabinet of the United Jewish Appeal; past member of the Board of Trustees of The Daughters of Miriam Center for the Aged, Clifton, NJ; and a past member of the Israel Birthright Committee of New Jersey's MetroWest Jewish Federation.
He and his wife, Stevi — who is also a committed friend of TAU — are residents of North Caldwell, New Jersey.